After winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, `I’ll Have Another’ was favored to win tomorrow’s horse race at Belmont becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. However, he has been pulled from the race due to a leg injury.
No one has won the Triple Crown since a young teenager from Walton, Kentucky, affectionately know as “The Kid,” won the coveted triple races in 1978 riding `Affirmed.’ The young unassuming boy was Steve Cauthen.
Cauthen’s first race was at Churchill Downs in May, 1976… he came in last. And, a week later he came in first. His rise to prominence was meteoric. He was the nation’s leader in race wins in 1977 with 487. And, it was recognized – Steve was Sports Illustrated’ Sportsman of the Year; Sporting News’ Sportsman of the Year, Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year.
The December 1977 issue of National 4-H News feature Cauthen on it’s cover and had an interview with him inside. Steve started 4-H when he was nine years old and was a member until he was 16 and started racing. His project: horses. He showed his horse at 4-H shows and the state fair. He went to the state fair four times, placing in the top three each year.
In the 4-H News interview Steve says that “4-H has been a part of my learning. The thing I can say for it is that it helped me see how groups work together. My friends were in 4-H and we did things together. We had duties and responsibilities in the club. When asked what advise he could pass on to others his own age, the young man stated, “when you find something you want to do, nothing’s going to stop you from doing it, if you want to do it bad enough. It’s just important that you do your best at all times. That’s one thing I try to do. Whenever I do anything, I try to do the best I’m able. I work hard at whatever it is I do. Not just riding, but also just being a nice guy. I try to do my best. All through my career I’ve had good people around me. I’ve had my parents behind me all the way. You know, I’ve been lucky.”
As Cauthen said this week as he was heading up to the Belmont from his home in Kentucky, “it’s time for another Triple Crown”… but, it just won’t be this year. “The Kid”, now at the “old” age of 52, still rules.
From National 4-H History Preservation Program.
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