Belmont Stakes, Chaos, and the Singularity

This is cross-posted at The Singularity Watch. Sorry for the repeat, but I’m away this weekend and so have to reuse material. Also, by the time this hits the stands, Rachel Alexandra’s fate re: the Belmont Stakes may be decided. If that’s the case, consider reading this in a historical state of mind.

It’s hard to imagine what the Triple Crown will be like in a completely digitized world. There’s so much money to be made in horse racing that player/owner/trainers try to spike the outcome any which way they can. There’s already a steroid problem. What if events could be controlled by a programmer rather than the natural abilities of athletes and riders and morning rituals? Would it still be sporting?

Take the Belmont. It could never be as interesting as this year’s. If Rachel Alexandra runs, there will be two contenders to watch this time around. Neither can win the Triple Crown, but the race on June 6th will be as exciting to watch as if they could.

You can’t plan these types of things. They have to evolve out of the chaos of breeding, nutrition, genetic mis-matching, upbringing, and the quirky way muscles and brain tissue develop on their own. And I’m not just talking about the horse. I’m talking owner, trainer, rider, and the little girl down the road that sneaks carrots in unobserved. Not to mention weather patterns any time, ever. They all contribute to the surprises that bring us horses like Mine That Bird and the filly. Fillies aren’t supposed to be there at all. If we can control the environment and cell division rates, would we still have such exciting possibilities for the Belmont? I just don’t think a programmer would be so creative.

Did Rachel Alexandra win only because it was her track: short and clear? Would Mine That Bird have won if he’d a few more lengths of time? Surely, but maybe not. Calvin Borel is cheeky. He’d have figured it out. Maybe. He said Rachel Alexandra was the best racing horse ever (and don’t forget he rode Mine That Bird in the Derby). Maybe she is the best horse ever, but maybe Borel was just being superlative in the flush of victory. Who didn’t think Rachel Alexandra was the best horse ever at that point?

It will be hard to know who to root for. Much as I love to see a filly win (especially since she gets her hair done so nice before the race), I love a horse that comes from behind. Mine That Bird does that oh so well. The question is, did he lose the Preakness because it wasn’t his track: narrow and short? Hopefully we’ll be able to find out on June 6th.

Somehow I don’t think this type of suspense would be as exciting if I knew it was all preplanned by some committee somewhere. Like with the surprise endings of the Lost episodes. I’m astonished, shocked maybe even, when we find out that John Lock’s dad is Sawyer’s dad as well, or that Sun’s baby might not be Jin’s, but I don’t brood about it for more than half a day. It all makes sense in a Hollywood soap opera kind of way. This race, this Belmont Stakes, is for real and no one knows the outcome. No one’s planned it and there is no right or wrong way for it to end. There’s no guarantee of an ending to generate higher ticket prices next year. And keep in mind there are no stud fees riding on this race.

Stud fees. Who would put a gelding against a filly in a match? Boy are the stallions pissed. They got beat by a eunuch and a girl. If this was a post Singularity world, we’d blame the democrats for such equal opportunity. This situation here, today, is simply pure chaos, just the way we like it.

See you on the 6th.

Sue Lange
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Belmont Stakes, Chaos, and the Singularity — 2 Comments

  1. I was at Belmont when Secretriat won the triple crown. I never cashed in my ticket. You are totally correct. No computer could give a thrill anything like that.