On this day in 1973 something happened that had not happened in over two decades: a horse won racing’s Triple Crown. The name of the horse was Secretariat, and he didn’t just win the Belmont Stakes, he annihilated the competition, winning by an amazing 31 lengths. Other horses have won the Triple Crown since, but never has there been such a dominant performance on horse racing's main stage.
After the race, Secretariat’s jockey Ron Turcotte was as surprised as anyone at his horse’s amazing performance, saying "I know this sounds crazy, but the horse did it by himself. I was along for the ride" (1).
You might say that Secretariat won "hands down." If you did, you would be using an idiom that means "with no trouble, easily," and it would be an especially appropriate idiom because the expression originates with horse racing. A jockey who is ahead, as was Turcotte on Secretariat, will relax his grip on the reins and drop his hands.
Many other idioms (expressions that mean something different from the literal meaning of the individual words) in English relate to horses and horse racing, such as:
Beat a dead horse
Hold your horses
A horse of a different color
On your high horse
Strait from the horses mouth
Today’s Challenge: How’s Your Horse Sense?
Below are clues to horse racing idioms, common expressions in English that began as horse racing terms. Given the number of words in each expression, a definition, and some clues about the expressions' origins, see if you can come up with the appropriate idioms (1):
1. This four word expression refers to something that is last minute or at its end. It refers to the practice of extending a wire above the finish line in a horse race.
2. This two-word hyphenated phrase refers to a loser in any competition. In horse racing it refers to a horse that did not win, place, or show in the race.
3. This two-word expression a situation in which a little known political candidate achieves unexpected political success. It come from the term used in horse racing to describe a horse about whom little if anything is known.
4. This four-word expression means to maneuver for an advantage or favorable place. It comes from the attempt of a horse’s rider to position himself to win the race.
5. This three-word expression is used to refer to a close contest of any kind. It comes from the image of two horses racing along side each other in a close race.
6. This compound word refers to a final phase of an operation or undertaking. It comes from the British horse racing lingo where the last turn and the finish line are know as the "home run."
7. This two word expression refers to an advantageous position, as in a candidate who is ahead in the polls near election day. It comes from the advantageous position of a jockey who in on the inner part of the track with a shorter distance to run than the jockey who is in the outside position.
8. This three-word expression means to attain a maximum level of competence or achieve a steady effective pace. It comes from a horse in a race who has achieve a steady pace.
Quote of the Day: Horse sense is a good judgment which keeps horses from betting on people. ~W.C. Fields
Answers: 1. Down to the wire. 2. Also-ran 3. Dark horse 4. To jockey for position 5. Neck to neck 6. Homestretch 7. Inside track 8. Hit one’s stride
1 - http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016464.html
2- Ammer, Christine. Southpaws & Sunday Punches.