Thursday, December 8, 2011

Going Round in Circles



I had a difficult time choosing a topic for today's post. I could talk about why the University of Kentucky men's basketball team decided not to participate in the Maui Invitational Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend (or was it that they weren't invited?), but I don't know that it matters to anyone but me (and that's only because I enjoy shoveling pecan pie down my gullet while camped in front of a UK game).

Then there was the UK vs UNC game last week (also known as the game where I actually stopped breathing for 45 seconds) but an early season game is not necessarily an indicator of how we'll perform the next time we meet them...so no reason to get too excited and begin throwing around words like number one and NCAA Champions.

But the story that caught my eye was actually a 30 second blip on CNN International about a horse race in Hong Kong. And my take-away from that clip was that they race their horses clockwise in Hong Kong. That threw me. Because I'm used to watching my horses run counter-clockwise. I know it's counter-clockwise. I realize every decent day at the track is fueled with bloody marys and mojitos (or is it mojitoes?), but I'm pretty sure that even when I'm 6 sheets to the wind (note to self: look up why that's a euphemism for being wasted), I know which direction is clockwise. And we ain't got it.

So, the question is...which one of us is doing it wrong?

Thank God for Google.

From Askville.Amazon.com (although I'm mad at Amazon right now because they have apparently launched a campaign to underbid the small business, but that's a totally different post on a completely different blog):

Particularly horse racing is often run clockwise outside the US such as England, Continental Europe, Australia, and Hong Kong. The decision to run horses counterclockwise in the US dates to the American Revolution era. In 1780, the first circular US race track was established by William Whitley near his home in Lincoln County, Kentucky. A staunch supporter of the Revolution, Whitley insisted that horses race counterclockwise, as opposed to clockwise as was the custom at the time in England. Some but not all American tracks followed the change immediately. Belmont was run clockwise from its opening until 1921. Today about 30% to 40% of English horse racing is now counterclockwise like all horse racing in the US.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I learned that a Kentuckian was behind it all. So, yes...New York and California, you may try to boast that you are the horse racing capital, but it's right there in black and white...Kentucky determined which direction you would race your pretty little horses. And that pretty much settles the debate in my mind.

But it raises one other question. Y'know how, when you walk in the same direction on the track all the time, you get a little...er...unbalanced? I have always wondered if the same happened to jockeys...always racing in the same direction. So, now I'm intrigued. Do they pick up a few races outside the U.S. just to even themselves out a bit? I really need more jockey friends to ask these sorts of questions.

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