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Rest peacefully, Beach

The View

I’ve had the honour of writing numerous columns in TROT Magazine. And I’ve had the true privilege of sharing my thoughts about harness racing over those years. This one is not easy to write.

In 2008, I wrote a column about Somebeachsomewhere – in fact it was an open letter. In it, I shared the accomplishments of this incredible horse, whom I believed should be named the recipient of the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s Athlete of the Year.

He was not simply a horse above all other horses. He was an athlete above all other athletes. No player from any major sport, and no human in any other endeavour, came close to matching him that year, or his accomplishments.

The story was read more than 140,000 times on the Standardbred Canada website. 987 people commented on that open letter. Of course, all 987 of them supported Beach for Canada’s top sporting honour.

Reading through those comments today, 10 years later, brings tears to my eyes.

Despite our pitch being heard across the country, and discussed on CBC’s, The National, among other places, Beach would be denied. The debate made it to the Lou Marsh Committee, before Committee Chair, Silken Laumann passed a law, banning animals from the award.

I wrote about Beach when I pleaded for the industry to figure out how to keep three-year-olds on the track. Selfishly I wanted to see him race again and personally experience that high, one more time, of cheering for him in the stretch.

I wrote about Beach when Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame changed their rules, not allowing animals to be inducted. An athlete is an athlete, I wrote. And Beach was the best I ever saw.

As we mourn the loss of Somebeachsomewhere, far too soon, I can’t shake the feeling that we’ve lost so much more than a great racehorse. When thousands crowded Canadian tracks to catch a glimpse, and cheer him on as he pulled away from his competition, they did so because he inspired them.

We cheered not for the owners, the trainer or the driver, although we liked them all. We cheered not for the other fans or the people around us, although we loved to see them smile. Despite what we may have thought at the time, we didn’t even cheer for the benefit of Somebeachsomewhere – who surely would have tried his heart out with or without us watching him do it.

We cheered for the benefit of ourselves. We cheered at the idea that anything is possible, and that greatness can be pure and inspiring. We cheered for what we are each capable of. And we cheered for courage, bravery and the never-quit attitude that we saw in front of our eyes.

We cheered because in Beach we saw something truly special. And that doesn’t happen very often.

It is with great sadness, that we must say farewell to our inspiration.

But Somebeachsomewhere has left us with so much more than memories. His courage and his spirit has been passed on to his sons and daughters. And despite a relatively short breeding career, his offspring will carry on his bloodlines through thousands of horses in the years to come. We will raise those elite athletes, and we will cheer for them through the stretch.

Rest easy, Somebeachsomewhere. You were put here for a reason. You changed the world.

Darryl Kaplan
[email protected]

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