Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dream a Little Dream

I wrote this on the evening of Tuesday, June 17 after a very long day driving from the Twin Cities to Milwaukee and then back westward to Madison via an hour and a half detour due to the heavy floods these poor folks have suffered. I preface this way because I had a lot of time to kill. You wouldn't know it because I feel like I spent most of my drive dealing with work issues on the phone, but I still had time to slip into a favorite American past-time: day-dreaming.

Oh, and the other reason I won't post this before the race on Thursday is the jinx factor. Of course, should Fizzy win, did I now jinx him going forward? Ah, the superstitions of a sports fan/horse owner/former athlete. I decided to write this anyhow because I promised to try and share everything I could about horse ownership and a large part of that is The Dream.

Here's how mine goes:

Fizzy races in the $18,000 allowance race on Thursday night and not only wins, but wins easier than we could have hoped. Dean comes back smiling and I say to Bernell, "A wise man once told me, 'sometimes they just get good' - and it looks like our boy just got good!!" We're all stunned and thrilled at the ease of the race. We take a couple of days and then Bernell and I get together and talk about the future. We decide on a grass stakes race in mid July (note: I have no idea if there is even a grass route Stake in the book for July, but that's the beauty of The Dream).

As we lead into that race, Fiz is training well and I dare to start thinking about the Claiming Crown. The day of the race dawns and Fizzy is sharp again. How in the world does Bernell keep him so sharp? This race is closer and Fizzy needs to put out more of an effort, but he still wins by two. He's tired after the race the next day when the family goes to visit him, but he baths in the affection the kids shower on him. When I get close to him I thank him and press close to his neck and tell him how proud we are and how much we appreciate all he's given us. Bernell and I decide to supplement him to the Claiming Crown - $5000 for a shot at the winner's share of the route grass race of $60,000.

August 2nd comes and this time Dean finds himself in traffic into the stretch. There is no clear path on the outside. A hole opens up late and Fizzy charges through and wins a photo!! Holy crap - four in a row and we're in the winner's circle again. I'm know I'll be interviewed after the race, so right there in my car, I rehearse it over and over again until it sounds right. I'm not going to share it here - I'll let it be a surprise for everyone!!

After the race I'm interviewed by the TVG guys (another note: I have NO idea if TVG even cares about the Claiming Crown, but what the hell. Again, my Dream.) and they ask me what's next for the horse. Would I supplement him to the Breeder's Cup? (I know, but again - my Dream!) I answered, "Emotionally I want to shout out 'Yes!', but we'll need to talk a step back in a few days, see how he came back from the race, get the partners, trainer and rider together and decide what we want to do next."

What we decided to do was to go a route on grass in a Grade III event in September and then make the decision on the Breeder's Cup from there (no idea if there is one, by the way). He didn't win, but he had trouble and finished third. The partners, Dean, Bernell and a few other folks gathered in a back room in a restaurant to decide what to do. We enjoyed a fine dinner, relieved the year and debated on the wisdom of taking ALL the winnings for the year and letting it ride supplementing to the Breeder's Cup and if we did, was Dean up to riding in the biggest race of his life at Santa Anita.

We decided to let it ride, of course. And no way was he going if he wasn't being piloted by Dean Butler. We ponied up the cash and we became the story of the Breeder's Cup. A bunch of shmoes that are trying to play with the big boys. Out to Santa Anita we went for the Cup and it is my birthday weekend to boot! Reporters are everywhere and my wife is hating life (she's a shy soul), but I'm enjoying it and we are the latest 'People's Horse'. We reap more in endorsements than we ever could winning the race and we decide to plow most of that into expanding our partnership with a several well-bred horses and start the road to the Preakness.

And the race? Well, after an agonizing wait, our number goes up after the photo sign comes down. The crowd goes wild and the partners are beside ourselves. We can barely get to the winner's circle. It's like a dream...

Oh wait, it IS!

So there it is. My day-dreaming for me, my partners and our horse. It doesn't matter if it's feasible or even possible. That's the point of having a dream. In racing we all chase a dream. If you don't allow yourself the time to dream, just why are you exactly in this business? And the beauty of my dream? If it doesn't work out, I can adjust, but I will keep on dreaming.

So now I'm going to post-date this and set it to publish this weekend. The results of Thursday's race will already be known and I would've blogged about it, but it doesn't matter. What matters is the dream always exists.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ted -

Man I love it! I remember having a similar dream when Trato won his debut back in Sept 2006. First the M32K claimer, followed by a starter allowance, then if he ran good there, a trip to the Cal Cup Juvenile! After three in a row, he takes a little time off, and he starts on the road to the Triple Crown via the Santa Anita Derby.

Alas, Trato ran up the track in his second race, and reality set in. But he will forever be my first winner and the dream sure looked so real that I could taste the mint juleps already!

That's why I love this sport!