Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Godfather and Horses -- Linked Forever?

What does the movie "The Godfather" and horse racing -- specifically harness racing -- have to do with each other?

Well, there was the scene in the movie where Don Corleone had Tom Hagen cut the head off of movie mogul Jack Woltz's prized race horse and put it in his bed, in an effort to convince him to sign singer and Corleone nephew Johnny Fontane to his new movie.

That would be a good guess. But it would be wrong.

The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind, but is that "The Godfather Pace" is the name of a more or less annual horse race held at Monticello Raceway in New York. The kicker is that all the harness drivers are of Italian descent. Get it? Italian-American drivers, and The Godfather?

All I can say is, WTF?

The race will be held this year on August 26. The date was picked because that's the birthday of Italian-born and Spain-working for explorer Christopher Columbus in 1451. Don't even get me started on that whole "discovering America" thing. That's a story for another time.

The chosen name for this race is wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to begin. There are so many less-offensive monikers this race could have been given. It could have been called the "Frank Sinatra Pace," which, come to think of it, is only slightly less offensive, given his Mafia ties and all. Or, if you want to stick with the movie theme, it could have been called the "La Dolce Vita Pace."

If the race was composed of only Jewish drivers, would they have called it the "Fiddler on the Roof Pace"? Or if it had only black drivers, would they have called it the "Little Black Sambo Pace"? I don't think so.

Yet we have Italian-American drivers so we have to call it "The Godfather Pace."

I guess it could have been worse. I could have been called "The Goodfellas Pace."

By the way, this month marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Mario Puzo's novel "The Godfather."