Who would’ve thought that the United States, let alone the entire world, would be where it is now? What was only a blip on many Americans’ radars a month ago is now the largest pandemic in recent history, halting school, work and the topic of my column, the Olympics. Since North and South Korea split in 1948, the animosity between the two nations and horrific ramification of the split have been well documented. For 70 years, the North and South traded threats and assassination attempts while simultaneously trying to emerge from extreme poverty. Rewatching both countries march into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium together gave me a sense of hope this past week, and given the times we live in now, it was greatly needed. However, for one fleeting moment, this changed when the North and South Korean teams marched together waving a Korean unification flag at the 2000 Summer Olympics. The two teams still competed separately, but the move represented a gesture for unity and peace that Koreans had not seen for over half a century. In what would be the beginning of one of the most successful eras for any Olympic athlete, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt came into the Beijing 2008 Olympics with hopes of establishing himself as the fastest man in the world. And in fact, he did just that, winning three gold medals in the process and breaking the world record in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100-meter relay. Take that all in for a second. North and South Korea march together — several times Michael Phelps finishes his star-studded career at Rio 2016 Bolt ended his career with eight gold medals and swept through the competition again at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. His performance in 2008 introduced him to the world and brought track and field a level of attention it hadn’t seen in a long time. There is never a dull moment when watching Michael Phelps. Phelps entered the 2016 Summer Olympics after having competed in every iteration of the games since 2000 — when he was only 15 — winning 22 Olympic medals and shattering dozens of world records in the process. I, like many of you, felt considerably dejected when I heard the news that the 2020 Summer Olympics would be officially postponed. Though it was the right decision, I can’t help but feel a sense of longing for one of my favorite sporting events in the world. What sticks out to me even more about Bolt’s 100-meter run is that it was one of the first sporting events I ever watched. Before the 2008 Olympics, I didn’t care much about sports, but my dad insisted that I watch the race. I distinctly remember Bolt crossing the finish line and feeling a rush of excitement I had never felt before. I was too young to witness this moment, but I have seen its follow-up acts. At the 2018 Winter Olympics, the North and South marched together again, bringing tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program to a temporary simmer. Usain Bolt dominates at Beijing 2008 Nathan Hyun is a sophomore writing about the 2020 Olympics. His column, “Going for Gold,” typically runs every other Wednesday. This is the only event on the list that isn’t a jaw-dropping athletic feat, but it’s here for good reason. So, in the interest of providing some much needed nostalgic relief, here are my personal top three Olympic moments from my lifetime. As someone of Korean descent, I found this moment especially moving. I finally could begin to relate to my great-grandmother, who used to tell me stories about escaping North Korea during the Korean War. I could finally see how powerful and meaningful the prospect of unification was. Phelps qualified for six events and ended up with five gold medals as a 31-year-old in 2016. This surprised absolutely no one, but the near-superhuman performance Phelps put forth, showing zero sign of physical regression after nearly two decades of competition, was a feat that won’t likely be seen again for a long time.
Gender (three major possibilities): The most obvious thing. A horse can be a female, male or gelded male. Age (three): Another basic. A horse can be a 2-year-old, a 3-year-old or an “older” horse at any one moment. Track surface (three): A horse can be better on dirt, better on turf, or the same on each. Let’s wait and if there turns out to be “synthetic track” horses too. Off-track tendencies (three): A horse can be a mudder, a mud-hater, or the same in wet weather as dry. Distance preference (four): Sprinter, middle distances, long distances, or all of the above. Better to explain what makes every horse unique in the more objective terms associated with performance on the track. Off the top of my head, I wrote down a dozen characteristics that can define a thoroughbred’s career. Then I multiplied the number of variable traits and was stunned by the sheer volume of possible combinations. When you think about it this way, any racehorse is likely to be one rare individual – especially an undefeated Kentucky Derby winner. ARCADIA – Since Barbaro’s death, cynics have complained about all the tears shed for a mere horse, and racing fans have struggled to explain what made this horse special. I’ll tell you how not to convince people that a particular horse is unique. Do not talk about the funny way he likes his peppermints served, his preference for the music of Herman’s Hermits, or his arm-biting habit that’s really a sort of playfulness. The hard-hearted will not be swayed if you sound like one of those cat owners who insist Mittens is practically human. Running style (three): Front-runner, stretch-runner or versatile. Training (two): Some work enthusiastically in the mornings, some less so. Career arc (three): Precocious, late-blooming, or steady. Consistency (two): Depending on physical or mental factors, some horses fire every time, some are in and out. Health (two): Possibly related to the factor above. A horse can be sound, or injury-prone. Breeding (two): A horse can have a recognized high-quality pedigree, or more modest bloodlines. The good ones tend to race better but not as long, because their breeding value means earlier retirements. Class (two): A horse either has or doesn’t have this ill-defined quality that we’ll use as a catch-all for competitiveness, physical bravery and other characteristics that allow some to pull out close races. Consider the possibilities. Multiply the variables: 3times 3 times 3 times 3times 4, etc. … and you see how many combinations of traits there are. It comes out to a grand total of 93,312 different combinations. Ninety-three thousand! According to The Jockey Club statistics, about 73,000thoroughbreds compete in the typical year. So, theoretically at least, every single one of them could have a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. And remember, we’re talking about characteristics that matter on the track, not silly things like a horse’s color and nickname around the barn. Barbaro? In almost all of our dozen variables, he had the preferable qualities, given the goals of the typical U.S. horse owner. He was male, a stakes winner on dirt and turf, a stakes winner on muddy and dry dirt, a dominant winner from 1 mile to 1 (he never tried sprints), able to press the pace or come from behind, a good enough worker to win the Kentucky Derby after one prep race in three months, and so on. The one thing Barbaro wasn’t was healthy, but that didn’t become a dramatic issue until after he won the Derby. Put it all together, and you see not only why Barbaro became an undefeated Derby champion, but why the loss of this rare specimen was widely mourned in the sport. Maybe the cynics will see it too. The weekend: The 23 horses available for Kentucky Derby parimutuel future-book wagering through Sunday include four who will be in action this weekend. Circular Quay, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up to Street Sense, and Notional, the Doug O’Neill-trained San Rafael Stakes winner, are among 14 3-year-olds in Saturday’s Risen Star at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Lawrence The Roman runs in Saturday’s Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct. Dreaming of Anna runs in Saturday’s Old Hat Stakes for fillies at Gulstream Park. At Santa Anita on Sunday, the field for the San Vicente Stakes is expected to include Half Famous, Law Breaker, Noble Court and Vaunt. The 7-furlong San Vicente’s winners include 1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm. The future wager’s morning line has Nobiz Like Shobiz as the 8-1 favorite. Kevin Modesti is Daily News columnist. His horse racing column appears on Fridays. [email protected] (818) 713-3616 SANTA ANITA LEADERS JOCKEY, WINS Garrett Gomez 43 Victor Espinoza 34 David Flores 20 Corey Nakatani 17 Aaron Gryder 15 Richard Migliore 14 William Antongeorgi III 12 TRAINER, WINS Doug O’Neill 16 Bob Baffert 15 John Sadler 15 Bobby Frankel 9 Jack Carava 8 Paddy Gallagher 8 Steve Knapp 8 ON THE STAKES SCHEDULE SANTA ANITA Saturday $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes, 3-year-old fillies, 1 mile. $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap, 4-year-old-and-up fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles. Sunday $200,000 La Canada Stakes, 4-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles. $150,000 San Vicente Stakes, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs. GOLDEN GATE FIELDS Saturday $100,000 California Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles. FAIR GROUNDS Saturday $300,000 Risen Star Stakes, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles. A WEEK AT THE RACES Jorge Ricardo, a Brazilian unknown to most U.S. fans, became the world’s winningest jockey on Monday in Buenos Aires when his 9,591st career victory put him one ahead of Russell Baze. This means Baze, who passed Laffit Pincay on Dec. 1 with No.9,531, can lay claim only to the North American record. That is, at least until Baze returns from a rib fracture at Golden Gate Fields, and tries to take the mark back from Ricardo. Baze is 48, Ricardo 45. Corinthian (Javier Castellano riding) thumped Jazil in an allowance-level race Thursday at Gulfstream, the Belmont Stakes winner’s second runner-up finish of 2007. Lava Man was named Cal-bred Horse of the Year for the second time at the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association dinner Monday in Pasadena. Brother Derek and Thor’s Echo had been finalists for the top honor. Also at the dinner, CTBA Hall of Fame inductions were held for breeders- owners John Mabee and his wife Betty Mabee; legislator and breeder Ken Maddy; the Mabees’ gelding Best Pal, and Free House. John Mabee died in 2002, Ken Maddy in 2000. Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, sidelined since Nov. 26, told the Daily Racing Form complications from December knee surgery will keep him from competing until March. Trainer Vladimir Cerin, whose wife Kellie Cerin died Feb. 1, asked that donations in her honor be made to the California Equine Retirement Foundation, 34033 Kooden Rd., Winchester, CA 92596. Kellie Cerin died when she fell at the home where the family was vacationing in Puerto Vallarta. Services were held Wednesday in Arcadia. Los Alamitos owner Dr. Ed Allred had a stroke last weekend but is expected to make a full recovery, the Orange County quarterhorse track said in a statement. The record 450 nominees to the Triple Crown at the Jan. 21 deadline (for a $600 early fee) include 32 from trainer Todd Pletcher, who will seek his first win in the classics with a group that includes Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay and Scat Daddy. Santa Anita jockey Garrett Gomez ($2.1 million) and trainer Doug O’Neill ($1.2 million) topped the respective national leader boards as the racing week began. – Kevin Modesti 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Real Madrid have been linked with an interest in the 21-year-old, who they reportedly see as a long-term successor to Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu.And now Juventus are also said to be showing serious interest, with The Times claiming the Italian champions are putting together a document as they continue to track the England youngster.Juve are said to be making ‘discreet checks’ on Rashford’s background and character as they consider making a bid for the United ace.Rashford is under contract at Old Trafford until 2020, although the club have the option to extend that by a further year. LATEST Tony Cascarino backs Everton to sign two strikers for Carlo Ancelotti 2 2 Marcus Rashford has scored five goals this season – three of which have come in an England shirt targets Kevin De Bruyne ‘loves Man City and wants to keep winning’, reveals father Man United joined by three other clubs in race for Erling Haaland Latest transfer gossip on talkSPORT.com RANKED REVEALED IN DEMAND Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ndidi bid, targets named, Ozil is ‘skiving little git’ But the young forward has been linked with a move away from the club in recent months amid reports he is frustrated with his lack of regular game time under manager Jose Mourinho, who has been blasted for his mismanagement of the England international.Rashford has made just five Premier League starts this season and has not yet played 90 minutes in his preferred position as a central striker. Rashford has started in only five Premier League games for Manchester United this season LIVING THE DREAM The biggest market value losers in 2019, including Bale and ex-Liverpool star Where every Premier League club needs to strengthen in January Juventus are ‘compiling a dossier’ on Marcus Rashford as the Italian giants consider a move for the Manchester United striker, according to reports.United may have a fight on their hands to keep hold of their homegrown starlet, with Rashford turning the heads of two of Europe’s biggest clubs. targets Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade moving on Cavani ‘agrees’ to join new club and will complete free transfer next summer He is enjoying more success in an England shirt than a Red Devils one, having scored three goals for his country this season compared to just two for his club.And it appears Juve and Real are ready to offer Rashford a way out of the club, if he decides he sees his future elsewhere.