Monday, February 1, 2010

The Internet, Racing and the Friendship of RuFu

The Internet has revolutionized our lives in many different ways. These days it's nothing to download past performances, bet on races from around the world and watch the live feeds at your desktop. Layer upon this the many racing forum sites, aggregators of racing news like the Paulick Report, Equidaily, the TBA and 'mainstream' press sites like Blood-Horse and the Thoroughbred Times plus Twitter and Facebook and you have quite the repository for gathering and disseminating information. We didn't have access to half this information as recently as 10-years ago.

An interesting phenomenon has grown up around this 21st Century technology: the Internet friendship. Many of us have 'friends' we've never actually met in person. We've touched base via the World Wide Web and exchanges on forums became site messages which became e-mails and then even the occasional phone call. In no time at all you have a friendship that can be as strong as any we've developed at school or in the workplace. MySpace and Facebook have accelerated that process as well.

In this case, it was the demise of Owner's Stable - chronicled here ad nauseum several years ago - that led to my friendship with Russell Fujimoto. In fact, four of us bonded over that experience. There was Russ, myself, Lloyd and Jeff. Over the span of several years we became pretty close. We had a collective dream of owning a horse together under the banner of the Four Horsemen Stable. And not just a claiming horse either, a Breeder's Cup contender. Hell, if you're going to dream, you dream big, right?

Any time Fizzy Pop would race there would be the usual banter among us and well wishing. Russ even called after a few victories. We did the same for Trato, Classielyte and any number of the horses that one or more of us had a piece. We exchanged predictions for big races, sought car buying advice from each other, mulled over possible moves and a host of other things. Our common bond was racing, but over time we learned more about each other. Of course there were many things we didn't know, but there would be time for that. We were all young (all under 50, I believe) and there was time.

Time ran out for Russ yesterday. I learned this morning that he was felled by a heart attack. All the details aren't in, but they don't have to be. We last exchanged notes the day before. No hint of anything being wrong. Then there was the e-mail letting me know late last night. It was stunning news to say the least. The sadness is deep. All the more poignant is that three of us were able to buy a small piece of a horse together just a month ago. We exchanged places to stay in and around Louisville for Breeder's Cup weekend (I told you, we dream BIG!). His love for his family was evident. His passion for racing, the Dodgers and Kings was unmatched. His ability to find humor in just about anything was a tremendous gift - both to him and for his friends.

Owning a piece of Diplo means so much more now than it did last week. He worked this morning at Hollywood Park and I like to think that Russ was there watching him. Keep watching over him RuFu. It was a privilege to be a part of you life. While I'm sad you are gone, I'm glad for the technology that allowed me to be a part of your life.


Jeff said...

Couldn't have been said better, Ted. RuFu, we're going to miss you.

CL said...

Sorry for your loss, Ted.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ted...I'm Deirdre, Jeff's friend and partner in Diplo...I'm very sorry to hear that your dear friend Russ has passed. I look forward to Diplo making him proud!!!! :)

Mau said...

Do you still own Fizzy Pop? I have been following him for several years now but have not been able to pick him up anywhere recently.

Liz Innes
Oxford Mills