June 4th, 1923 was a beautiful day for horse racing. The Steeple Chase at Belmont Park was going to be a good one, and the crowd was fire up. There was an excitement in the air, and bets were still being placed as the horses took their place. Several of the riders past comments back and forth because Sweet Kiss was slated to run as a long shot at 20 to 1. Frank Hayes (pictured on the left) was the rider, and he was known for his perseverance and determination. His horse had been well-trained to cover this course, but not in record time. However, both were ready for what might come that day.
Frank had not been feeling himself as he mounted his ride that day, but he shrugged it off as prerace jitters. He had experienced this in the past and knew the moment he was on the track all would be fine. He needed to feel the powerful strides of his horse beneath him, the wind hissing in his ears and the pounding of hooves. Once the smell of the dirt track rose up to meet him, he would be himself once again. Thus, horse and rider waited with constrained intensity to run their race.
When the time came, the course was started and Sweet Kiss was not the first horse out. However, Frank knew what to do, and how to position things so that they might be the first to cross the final hurdle. About half way through the race, Frank wrapped the reigns around both arms and leaned into the horse. People assumed he was urging it on to take the lead. At the final jump, horse and rider held to a clean form and they crossed the finish line a head’s lead in front of the next horse, to win the race.
The crowd applauded as Sweet Kiss slowed down and veered off to the side of the track. Just as it came to a stop, something strange happened. Frank did not stand up as was his custom. In fact, he remained in his forward position even after being called numerous times. The officials finally approached the horse, and only then did they realize the amazing truth of what had just happened.
Despite a sudden heart attack, Frank had somehow managed to stay atop the horse. His perseverance and determination to finish well had indeed paid off. The 20 to 1 long shot had jumped the final fence and cross the finish line in first place. At that moment racing history had been made. Frank Hayes had become the only jockey in human history to ride his horse to a stunning, upset victory, after his own death.
My question for you today is simple. What is holding you back from your place of victory? You were not created from lesser material, or with a second-rate destiny. You were created to do brilliant things, things of your own special, unique making. You may have made some mistakes along the way, just like everyone else, but these are not meant to define you. They are intended to refine you. If you let them, they can make you better, stronger, more focused and more determined. These things can fill you with an attitude of perseverance that nothing can stop.
How, you might ask, is that possible, when you feel so beaten down and defeated. The answer is already at your finger tips. It is based in the truth of WHO you are, not in the false emotions of HOW you feel. When you know, I mean really know, how much God loves you, and what He thinks of you, nothing this world does will matter any more. When you get that kind of endless love fixed within your heart, not even death will stop you from finishing the race God has set before you to win. Just like Frank Hayes, when you know the love of God, even in death, you can still cross your finish line in sweet, sweet victory.