Magnificent gleaming horses galloping at top speed, a clear blue day, rainbows of silks pouffing out in the windstream of the race—what more could a Southern girl from North Carolina want from her day at the Saratoga Race Course in New York?
How do phrases like "a head start" or "to hit one's stride" come into our language? If you're really curious, check out this Sports Idioms for Track and Field for some interesting history of words and phrases such as "the inside track" or "a dark horse." They've become as much a part of our normal speech as the "ponies" are a part of the racing industry. (Stick with me on this one. The point will become clear, I promise.)
Yesterday I watched as calm, older horses called "ponies" pranced in step alongside the racing horses to calm them before a race. They were the unsung heroes who led the mares and geldings into the starting gate, and then faded into the background even before the announcer yelled, "And, they're off!"
No glory for them, their work was complete. This is not unlike a good idiom. Almost unseen unless you're on the lookout for one, an idiom does its job of amplifying the message a writer is communicating, and then quietly sinks into the background.
Meanwhile, here's a picture of me squeezed between my nephew and my mother, along with my brother and sister-in-law at the Saratoga Springs track. The youngest member of the party was the big winner of the day—pulling in a hefty $7.70 for one $2 bet. And here's a picture of the horse I should have bet on, but didn't.
Saratoga Race Course, silks, idioms, horse racing