Friday, April 2, 2010

A flash back to 2005, the night before the Wood Memorial

It's been five years, this fact alone just staggers me. Five years ago tonight I wrote the following and posted it to the Chronicle of the Horse forums. You all may or may not know that during Scrappy's run to the 2005 Triple Crown, I was posting stories of life on the track and more specifically the behind the scenes moments with my part in the Scrappy T story. For months I did this on the bulletin board. I don't think I'd have thought to call it blogging, but in a way it was.

So anyway, now we have come a full five years down the road from the night that the following was written. I'll try to write the "part 2" of it all tomorrow. It should be more than a bit fitting because tomorrow I am returning to Aqueduct to watch this year's running of the Wood Memorial. I'm excited to again be where the action is, even if it's only for a single day. My attention will be fixed solely on all the glorious 3 year olds who are going to be under the media spotlight as time is running out to make the all important graded stakes earnings to qualify for a spot in the derby starting gate.

But tomorrow is tomorrow. So I'll leave the story here as the night before, in this version, it's 2005. The horse looking to be the only sure thing was Bellamy Road. And he was on Wood day, but he wasn't at Churchill.

So on with the story:

There are just some stories that should be told. Maybe not for a good cause, hopefully not to flaunt, but rather to allow outsiders in to a moment so special that you would feel absolutely remiss if you didn’t allow others who can appreciate it in. And so lies the reasons for this post.

It’s the night before the Wood Memorial. I am sitting in a hotel room. I have just had dinner with my grandparents, in town to root our horse on. I am relaxed and calm considering the day and the events that lie before me tomorrow.

The horse I love, the 3 yr old who I have been riding off and on since last August has developed into an accomplished enough mount that he is running in tomorrow’s premier east coast Triple Crown prep. Even typing that makes my mouth dry. And yet the things I said last year still hold true. No matter what he will remain a winner in my book. Yet in 24 hours much of America’s racing fans will also be allowed to judge for themselves just how good he is.

Now he doesn’t have an easy task. Top horses from California, Florida, New York trained by Hall of Fame trainers are out there ready to prove that he’s not as ready for the race as they are. Every one of his 7 opponents could defeat him. But then this has been the case in every race he’s ever run. And his worst finish ever has been a 3rd in his last stakes. Not bad, no matter what level you run in.

His name is Scrappy T. His sire is Fit to Fight. His mother is Perpetual Light. And he is a big ol goofball. :-) He loves peppermints, enjoys nibbling on my jacket and will occasionally try to step on my toe as I lead him to see if I am paying attention.

He’s as ready as he can be. All the details are done. My outfit for the walk to the paddock has been altered and is clean. I spoke briefly to the NBC reporters today, and tomorrow from 4-6pm we’ll be there. Where I usually sit and watch nestled in my sofa with my dogs, instead I’m going to be a very small part of one moment of racing history.

I feel so mixed up and jumbled. I am proud, worried, scared, thrilled and most of all, happy to see him accomplish the goals the owner and trainer have excellently prepared him for. Robbie is a great trainer and an amazing person. He’s just the most normal laid back guy. To see him accomplish this has also been thrilling. He deserves this success and all the highs that come with it.

The people who work behind the scenes on him, from his groom Benny who adores him more than he lets on to Benny’s wife, Minerva who is our hotwalker and who plays with him in her spare time. To Julie and Ricky who are working hard down in Maryland now, but those two were the brave first ones to ride him at Colonial last year. (And believe me the word brave is an understatement) So many people hold this horse in their hearts. We all believe in him and know that no matter where he finishes, in our hearts he’ll forever be a star.

I know we all ‘know’ there’s a lot more support crew to every horse we see on tv and in the races. I hope that this brief moment of reflection gave you a little insight into what one cog in the wheel thinks right before a big day.

I am going to go to bed knowing that while it may seem big, tomorrow is just another day. Our horses need to be ridden, fed, wrapped and groomed. The stalls will need cleaning everyday and the glories and failures are merely moments caught in time. The continuity of caring for and riding these guys and gals is far more exciting than the momentary high we’re all caught in now. Here’s to a great race, and all the horses coming back safe.

As I say to the jocks everytime,

“Have fun, be safe, come home”


(Pics courtesy of Charles Mann ©2005-2010,

1 comment:

  1. Tomorrow will be fun, though less exciting than 5 years ago.