As we wait to see if I’ll Have Another takes the Triple Crown, let’s revisit Churchill Downs, the old Louisville Jockey Club.  That’s the place where the match race took place between Kentucky horse Ten Broeck and the California horse Mollie McCarty, back in 1878, on the Fourth of July.

They’ve been singing about it since the race happened.  Sometimes called “The Racehorse Song” and sometimes called “Molly and Tenbrooks,” it captures the best and the worst of what happens at Churchill Downs.  I love Bill Monroe’s version, which, like the best of bluegrass, is bittersweet.

Here are the lyrics, in case you can’t make all of them out:

Run oh Molly run, run oh Molly run
Ten-Brooks gonna beat you to the bright and shining sun
To the bright and shining sun oh Lord
To the bright and shining sun

Ten-Brooks was a big bay horse, he wore a shaggy mane
He run all ’round Memphis, and he beat the Memphis train
Beat the Memphis train oh Lord
Beat the Memphis train

Ten-Brooks said to Molly, what makes your head so red
Running in the hot sun with a fever in my head
Fever in my head oh Lord
Fever in my head

Molly said to Ten-Brooks you’re looking mighty squirrel
Ten-Brooks said to Molly I’m leaving this old world
Leaving this old world oh Lord
Leaving this old world

Out in California where Molly done as she pleased
She come back to old Kentucky, got beat with all ease
Beat with all ease oh Lord
Beat with all ease

The women’s all a-laughing, the children all a-crying
Men all a-hollering old Ten-Brooks a- flying
Old Ten-Brooks a- flying oh Lord
Old Ten-Brooks a- flying

Kiper, Kiper, you’re not riding right
Molly’s a beating old Ten-Brooks clear out of sight
Clear out of sigh oh Lord
Clear out of sight

Kiper, Kiper, Kiper my son
Give old Ten-Brooks the bridle and let old Ten-Brooks run
Let old Ten-Brooks run oh Lord
Let old Ten-Brooks run

Go and catch old Ten-Brooks and hitch him in the shade
We’re gonna bury old Molly in a coffin ready made
In a coffin ready made oh Lord
In a coffin ready made

Before you start crying, the way I did when I first heard this song, you should know that Mollie McCarty was lucky, unlike Eight Belles.  She lived five years after the match race that inspired the song, winning race after race, and putting three foals on the ground.

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