In this sweepstakes event, run quadrennially since 1789, the reigning champion, Demoblue Farm's HopefulFutureBarack, will on November 2, 2012, defend his title against the challenger, Repured Farm's BackToGreatnessMitt, over ten furlongs. Four years ago, in the 2008 Presidential Cup, HopefulFutureBarack outlasted JohnAndSarahLipstick, who had edged BackToGreatnessMitt in the Repured Farms prelims.
The bloodlines of the two stallions have sharply differed for generations, though both lines contain the only offspring of the Houhynhm breed discovered by Lemuel Gulliver in the early 1700s, as reported by Jonathan Swift in his authoritative history, Gulliver's Travels. Houhynhms are the only equines able to talk to each other and to racing afficianados in English.
HopefulFutureBarack's great-great-granddam, FederalMeltPotEqualizer, was a cousin of JefferJackCommoner, a rangy Appalachian stud. She never won a race but finished in the money often enough to make race handicappers question her about it. Her answer was that before each race she'd harangue the other contestants with her own brand of horse-sense. "Listen, fellow Houhynhms," she would whinny, "the Yahoos ["Yahoo" means "human" in Houhynhm] are just plain using us. For Ur-Yahoo's sake, don't try outrunning each other for Yahoo fun and profit. Work together and cross the finish line abreast! That way we'll all share their stupid prize money!"
Sadly, her appeals always fell on some deaf horse-ears. At least one selfish showoff would bolt from the gate and finish far ahead of most of the others, who had to eat his mud or dust, depending on track conditions. BackToGreatnessMitt's great-great-grandsire PrivateRightLaissezFaire was one of these prancy egotists. He was a stallion FederalMeltPotEqualizer hated, a sentiment he cordially reciprocated. The two locked manes in a few races, and once, when she neighed a protest at him as he flew past, he squealed back, "Vulgar beast! Common whor[s]e!"
He couldn't abide her plebeian urge to change things. She wanted to subvert the whole racing system by letting no one lose. He, to the contrary, had a deep faith that the Ur-Yahoo who created racing and the rest of the universe not only knew what He was doing but designed it all intelligently enough not to need any changing. "Ur-Yahoo made thoroughbreds like me winners," he'd snort, "and mixed breeds like her losers. It's all part of His plan."
PrivateRightLaissezFaire sired GildedAgeRobberBaroness, BackToGreatnessMitt's great-granddam. This filly was as self-assured as her father and equally convinced that any horse who lost deserved to lose and was to blame for losing. Inspired by the new doctrine of Survival of the Fittest, she liked to trot out inspirational slogans for her high-born yearling friends in Repured Farm's elegant Victorian stable. "Cream always rises to the top!" she'd whinny, "Strength always puts down weakness! Success always breeds success!"
Among these high-born friends was IncomeTaxNationalParkLeveller, a talkative colt with the nickname Teddy. Though Teddy was foaled by FederalMeltPotEqualizer, his sire was a scion of the Hudson River Houhynhms, which made Teddy a rare blend of thoroughbred and workhorse. He was autocratic, pious, and bellicose, like most Repured Farm horseflesh, yet he'd inherited a big, Demoblue, common streak from his mother. After winning his first Cup, he persuaded the Houyhnhms of both Farms to tax all prize money progressively for the benefit of losing horses, much to GildedAgeRobberBaroness's disgust. He also had large undeveloped tracts in both Farms set aside as permanent free-range pasture. "Ur-Yahoo made these magnificent landscapes," he liked to nicker, "for us to commune with Him in!"
Teddy sired HopefulFurtureBarack's grand-dam, NewDealSocialSecurityEverygal, who followed Teddy's habit of living high on the horse on the one hand and befriending low-class Houhynhms on the other. She too lived in a fancy Hudson River stable, yet she too got both Farms to pony up retirement pensions for every Houyhnhm regardless of track record and to approve many other changes in the racing rules that helped her win four Presidential Cups in a row. A backlash was inevitable. When NewDealSocialSecurityEverygal died soon after her final Cup victory, her friends joined with her enemies in prohibiting two-time winners from ever running for the Cup again.
Working at cross-purposes with her was our old friend GildedAgeRobberBaroness, who early on died in a tragic racing accident known as the Great Crash. A colt she'd delivered just before she was killed by excessive risk-taking in that race was DivineMushroomCloudFreedomFighter, who, like his mother, loved inspirational slogans. "Better dead than red!" he'd neigh. "Bomb 'em back to the stone age! Ur-Yahoo hates the New Deal! Ur-Yahoo loves free capitalism!" Convinced Demoblue Farm was crawling with communists, he vowed to hunt them all down and return the racing world to the faith of his fathers.
But he was spooked by NewDealSocialSecurityEverygal's foal GreatSocietySpender, who aimed at nothing less than making every Houhynhm healthy, wealthy, and equal. After getting the Yahoos to guarantee full medical care to all retired Houhynhms, GreatSocietySpender even rectified an old injustice among the Yahoos themselves. During the first seventy years of the Presidential Cup, Yahoos owned other Yahoos as slaves. GreatSocietySpender persuaded the Yahoos to abolish such relics of Yahoo slavery as segregated schools and toilets.
All this cost money. GreatSocietySpender was able to swing it for a while by raising taxes like there was no tomorrow. But tomorrow did come and did start to drag him and Demoblue Farm down to bankruptcy. As if that weren't bad enough, Repured Farm proceeded to win the Presidential Cup all but once during the next twenty-five years, mainly because of AntiTaxAntiGovJobCreatress, a filly with the nickname of The Gimpper because of an odd hitch in her gait.
This hitch lulled The Gimpper's foes into thinking she couldn't win. But she'd fool them by gimpping along five or six furlongs, then suddenly convulse into a gallop so spastic it made her look like she'd literally lost her head. Yet that miserably awkward gallop often got her over the finish line first. Her seeming incompetence masked enough racing smarts to win her a couple of Cups. The same was not true of the two Repured Farm stallions who won Cups after her. Their seeming incompetence was real.
The Gimpper was BackToGreatnessMitt's dam. He's idolized her ever since his training days in the Financial Paddock, where young Repured horses learn how to maximize their own feed, minimize that of their Paddock-mates, and do their best to starve each other to death. "This is the code that Mother and all my other forebears lived by," BackToGreatnessMitt likes to neigh, "and if it was good enough for them, it's good enough for me. I want to return to their freedom-loving, Ur-Yahoo-fearing, private-wealth ways. Depending on nothing but their own four hoofs, they were not, like some Houhynhms I know, afraid to fail!"
Such pronouncements provoke many a horse-laugh over at Demoblue Farm. HopefulFutureBarack, current Cup holder and son of GreatSocietySpender, may snicker, "BackToGreatnessMitt must have forgotten those two hundred and twenty years since the first Cup, during which all his ancestors have been rolling mane over hoof in Repured Farm clover. Their 1% of Houhynhmdom has never been afraid to fail because they've hoarded millions in prize money from the other 99% who often do fail!" Then, without sarcasm, "I look forward to helping that 99% get their fair share, meaning fortunate Houhynhms like me will have to pay at least the same tax rate as my less fortunate stable mates, as defined in the Water Buckett rule."
Then BackToGreatnessMitt may nip back, "Since HopefulFutureBarack won the Cup, everything he's done to get us out of the Great Racetrack Recession of the last few years has been a disaster. His gimmick of installing penny slots in the racetrack casinos to beef up track attendance with penny-ante Yahoos has been a total failure: -- all it's done is run up debt without creating good-paying jobs. What we need is to get rid of job-destroying racetrack rules and taxes and lure the high-roller Yahoos back for some real, old-time, high-leverage betting!"
So, here's my prediction for the 2012 Cup. On the basis of bloodline and in lieu of prior head-to-head competition or other comparables, the following considerations add up to a second win for HopefulFutureBarack.
1) Though both bloodlines regularly win the Cup, Demoblue Farm horses have done better during hard times like those of the 1830s, 1930s, and today. This is because low- and middle-class Houhynhms know that in downturns they do better when they share prize money than when they fight for it like dumb animals. In good times, Repured Farm winners dole out enough of their prize money to losers at both Farms, either as charity or as easy work like giving kiddie-Yahoo horse-rides, to keep them more or less pacified. But in hard times, class warfare between the haves and have-nots favors the have-nots, as does the mandated medical insurance introduced by Demoblue Farm since the last Cup. The little-guy have-nots will cheer louder and bet more than the fat-cat haves.
2) Counteracting this advantage is the fact that debt levels throughout the racing industry are so high that the system is almost dysfunctional. BackToGreatnessMitt and his Yahoo trainers are right in demanding fiscal discipline, though their anti-tax and anti-government dogmas threaten the racing system as much as debt. There's no question Demoblue Farm, Repured Farm, and Yahoo-land as a whole will see their standards of living decline so long as debt and spending aren't curbed. The fiscal hawks will outcheer and outbet the fiscal doves hands down. Advantage: BackToGreatnessMitt.
3) The last fence to jump is religion. BackToGreatnessMitt is vulnerable here for three reasons. First, many Repured Farm Ur-Yahoo fundamentalists find his religion unacceptable. His belief, that Ur-Yahoo revealed Himself to the world not just through the Holy Book of Holy Land but through another book called the Book of Mor[m]on with gold pages, which was given to a Yahoo named Smith by the angel Moron[i], was lost by Smith, and was recovered and translated by Smith with a see-through stone, strikes them as horse manure. They see their holy book as pure Ur-Yahoo but his holy book as pure Mor[m]onism.
Second, unfortunately for BackToGreatnessMitt most other Houhynhms agree with the fundamentalists. Mainstream Ur-Yahoo conservatives see Mor[m]onism as a cult. Moderates who like HopefulFutureBarack's liberal Ur-Yahoohism find it moronic. Agnostics and atheists all go for HopefulFutureBarack's strict separation of church and state and abhor BackToGreatnessMitt's plan to slop them together. Few Yahoos will cheer for or bet on the Mor[m]ons.
Third, female Yahoos are tired of the bias against them in Mor[m]onism and many other fringe and mainline Ur-Yahoo sects. They want a modern Bill of Female Rights and will not cheer or bet on BackToGreatnessMitt's nostalgia for the past. Advantage: HopefulFutureBarack.
CURRENT ODDS: 10 to 7 HopefulFutureBarack, by a length.