When the coin drops, the deal is done

A 98 per cent true story.

by Trey Nosrac


Our minds are strange. We don’t seem comfortable when we are undecided. It is easier to take a position. There is a moment when we decide to get a vaccine jab or not to get a vaccine jab. You may go left or right, and your reasons are complicated, but it is difficult to reverse once you begin down the road. It is annoying and usually futile when others try to convince you that you are misguided.

Many things — that third tequila, the latest tattoo, a time-share condo, a mullet haircut, your long-term relationship with a high-maintenance waitress named Wanda, supporting a political candidate and buying a snowmobile — all seemed like good ideas. Once upon a time, they all made perfect sense.

My process is to evaluate the risks, consider the consequences, Google aimlessly, seek advice, discard advice and then leap. I take solace that even my bad decisions based on emotion will probably make more exciting talking points when sitting around the dinner table or in an assisted living facility television room.

So it goes with stallion selection.

I could choose any trotting stallion for my lone broodmare. The list of potential sires goes from A to Z. I went with Volstead. Why? My choice began with a misunderstanding followed by questionable reasoning and contrary thinking but ended with me sticking by my decision.

Last month, perusing a stallion directory, looking at glossy equine photographs, and pretending to understand the information and data, I stumbled across a trotting stallion named Volstead with a series of (F)’s behind his impressive yearly racing performance results. I assumed Volstead was a French sire and raced in France. This quirky news planted a seed in my mind.

Despite only visiting France one time, 20 years ago for one week, I am a bit of a Francophile. Except for eating snails and finding the humor of Jerry Lewis amusing, everything else about France jazzes me up.

I became smitten with Volstead. A coin slipped into my mental slot. Each shred of information was about to be influenced from that point on.

For example:

Not even the colossal detail that my original premise/hunch was completely bogus could derail my Volstead train.

The (F) listing on the pedigree page was fake news due to my ignorance. A few days after choosing Volstead, an informed source told me the letter (F) in the stallion directory did not indicate France. Instead, it meant foreign.

Volstead raced in Sweden and was born in the USA. Here is where our minds can go astray. When I learned the French Connection was nonsense and existed only in my brain, I changed my thinking instead of switching from Volstead. Sweden is sort of close to France, and hey, they have nice trotters.

I contacted an extremely knowledgeable breeder and asked if the genetic pedigree cross between Volstead and my broodmare was okay. Due to the sire of my mare, he gave a lukewarm thumbs up. I interpreted this modest green light as a rave review.

Also, in my mental playbook, I felt a sense of discovery. Every professional, scientific breeder in the world was, and is, aware of this excellent sire. Because I am an amateur, I was only vaguely familiar with Volstead until a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, I began running around like I had discovered plutonium.

I viewed replays of Volstead in action. He looked magnificent on the racetrack, without trotting hobbles, long strides, and perfection in motion. Of course, all 50 of the trotters look fantastic in those European races, but my guy was a touch better in my eyes.

I kept digging on Volstead.

I discovered he also stood for stud duty in Australia and found that his first Australian crop sold very nicely. This discovery thrilled me. Honestly, I don’t know dilly squat about Australian horse racing or the Aussie breeding market, but now that I had some semen in the game, this information was excellent news.

When googling Volstead, I found that it was either one of Jacksonville’s best-loved bars based on its inspired cocktails and speakeasy attitude or related to the National Prohibition Act, ratified in January 1919, sponsored by a man named Volstead. Cocktail Bar or 100-year-old legislation, who knows and who cares? He is carrying my banner.

The stud fee seemed a little high when I was not emotionally involved. But now, what a value, worth every penny. And through my new eyes, this foal would have international appeal. Swedes, French, all the (F)’s will bid wildly on my Ohio yearling.

On and on I go. On and on we go. We pick a team and cheer like maniacs. We believe we are analytical and not subject to strange rivers that push our boats. You say neigh, but choose an issue, a political party, a hobby, a candidate, or an opinion. Have you changed your mind lately?

My unexpected choice of this stallion has me pumped. Time will tell. Apple stock, Enron, tattoos, politicians, mullets, penicillin, and seat belts seemed good ideas. Some worked out better than others. In their way, they were all intriguing.

Wanda was the exception. She was in the mistake column from day one. I finally admitted it three years later when she torched my pick-up truck.