Horse Fever

In 2001 and then again in 2011, Ocala experienced Horse Fever when the Marion Cultural Alliance sponsored the life size horses painted or embellished to represent a variety of themes decorated city streets while raising over 1.75 million dollars for MCA and 35 other local charities.

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This week, Horse Fever in Ocala and across the country refers to the excitement many feel as California Chrome races in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday attempting to be the first Triple Crown Winner since Affirmed, a Florida-bred thoroughbred, won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont in 1978.

In the past 36 years, eleven horses have been in the same position as California Chrome having won both the Derby and Preakness, but all have fallen short.

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Horse racing is ready for another Triple Crown winner, but I’m not sure I’ll be cheering for California Chrome this weekend. Instead, my loyalty will be with the horses with ties to Florida. I don’t cheer for the Dodgers, or Lakers, or Raiders. I’m not a fan of USC or UCLA or any other California team so I just can’t root for a west coast horse.

I hope California Chrome runs a good race, but I’d like to see his name added to the list of horses that managed to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown, only to come up short at the Belmont. For me, Horse Fever this year remains on the streets of Ocala.

  • Spectacular Bid (1979)
  • Pleasant Colony (1981)
  • Alysheba (1987)
  • Sunday Silence (1989)
  • Silver Charm (1997)
  • Real Quiet (1998)
  • Charismatic (1999)
  • War Emblem (2002)
  • Funny Cide (2003)
  • Smarty Jones (2004)
  • Big Brown (2008)