Parties were widespread over the weekend for the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo.
For the Kentucky Derby Mint Julep set, the festivities on Saturday happened at Churchill Downs, the iconic Thoroughbred racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky (home to the fried chicken made famous last week, on Capitol Hill). Opened in 1875, in its first year of operation the first Kentucky Derby was hosted there.
For the Tequila amigos, Cinco de Mayo came a day later, but the chatter in the sporting community carried over from Saturday into Sunday. The hats from the Derby were drooping as an unprecedented ending to the 145threenactment of the historic horserace caught everyone by surprise.
Luis Saez was astride Maximum Security, the second-most-favored to end up in the Winner’s Circle. When Saez crossed the finish line first, everyone assumed that the best man/horse had won; within minutes, track officials had signaled a delay in that determination.
Video replays; jockey interviews; expert consultation ensued, and, about 25 minutes later, the decision was rendered. Saez/Maximum Security had veered outside their lane, impeding the sprint of multiple horses vying for the lead. In the end, Country House – a 65-1 longshot – went from runner-up to winner.
The $1.68 million purse was awarded to the rightful victor, while Maximum Security’s position went from 1st to 19th place in the final standings (with no purse attached). He’ll forever be historic, but without the “win” alongside his name, despite finishing 1¾ lengths in front…
Racing to win is in the human DNA; every culture – in every era – has created matches to pit competitors in contests to prove superiority. Against that familiar backdrop, Paul was used by God to script the rulebook for the women and men who would aspire to achieve victory in the Kingdom games.
The handbook is in 1 Corinthians 9; the first 23 verses outline the rights of the contenders – in the “apostle” category – and he personalizes the framework so that his readers would understand how it works in “the real world,” in which we all perform to qualify for placement in the Eternal Kingdom.
The inherent rights are worth understanding… but the responsibilities that attach to those rights must be understood as well. Those are the last four verses of the chapter; etched onto my dashboard as I steer my life/calling around the track.
The caution: “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” (v 24-27, from The Message).
Allow me to trumpet Paul’s admonition for you, yet again: you cannot lose your salvation (see Romans 8) but you can lose your reward (see 1 Corinthians 3). Our human perspective is focused on the finish line; the Officials of Heaven have the instant replay that monitors the conformance with the rules, all the way around the track.
The final results will be announced at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Let’s meet there for our medals, without having to fear or suffer disqualification…