Upset and Man o' War

LOUISVILLE -- With the Kentucky Derby just a couple of days away, it is worth revisiting the word “upset.” it is worth revisiting because just yesterday I heard someone here in Louisville repeat the myth of how the word “upset” actually goes back to a horse named Upset, a thoroughbred who on a magical day in 1919 beat the great Man o’ War. This is a stubborn legend, one that sounds too good and too sensible not to be true. Unfortunately, it’s not true, it’s not close to being true, and while the story is harmless enough, I think often of the line in the underrated movie Avalon: “Jules,” the old man said, “if you stop remembering you forget.”

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