Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Five Days in July

And JFK thought 10-days in October were rough. It's been quite the year already but the last five days have been something else.

July 2

Horrible breakdown at Canterbury Park that resulted in the death of a racehorse and severe injuries to jockey Scott Stevens as well as major back injuries to Paul Nolan and Don Proctor. The single greatest factor in the severity of the accident was that the horse on the lead was the one that went down. I don't care what your reaction time is, at 40 mph on suddenly spooked and scared 1100 pound racehorses when the horse in front of you breaks down the result is in God's hands. It was a miracle that no jock was killed and that fourth jock in accident, Dean Butler, was able to walk away with minor injuries.

I'm not going to preach about the perils of race riding (I've done that already) but they are folks with families and livelihood and the Don McBeth Fund was set up years ago to help injured jockeys and their families. Rachel Blount in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune had a nice column on this accident and the work of the Fund. Try to ignore the many ignorant trolls that commented on her work. David Miller over at View From the Quarter Pole has a good take on this as well.

July 4

Tabby Lane gets railroaded in a $10,000 Starter Allowance. It was a race she should have been competitive in but she was not. I was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan visiting family for the 4th and was unable to watch the race live. One of our partners texted me the details of the race and it wasn't pretty. Bernell and I talked and have some ideas for changing things up for her, though she made need to get away for a few months and then we can start from scratch. While not heartbreaking, it certainly was disheartening. I still have been unable to bring myself to watch the replay.

July 6

I was meeting one of our partners at the track in the early morning hours to visit One for Zetta (as well as Tabby). It was his first time on the backside and it happens to be his first time owning a racehorse. We get there and Zetta seems relatively antsy in comparison to when I usually go by and see her. Turns out she's going to gallop in an hour so we stick around which is no real sacrifice for me. She heads over to the training track and Frankie warms her up and turns her to pick up her pace. No sooner does trainer Christine Riddle get the words "She's had some problems at this point over the track" out of her mouth than Zetta decides that she's all done, puts on the breaks, rears and goes, as my mom would say, ass over tea kettle. Thankfully horse and rider are fine but Zetta is free and she's going home and tears out for her barn. There are few things scarier than a horse loose on the backside and, to my horror, it's my horse!

Zetta gets back to the barn and Frankie and Chris settle her down, dust her off and up he goes to get her back on the track for the work. She needs to learn that her antics don't reward her with a bath, lunch and her stall and they handle it like champs. There is no retribution, just a patient return to the training track where she's taken around three times (looking like a horse that's never seen a racetrack rather than one that worked like a champ through the gates just days before!!) and then Frankie patiently takes her to her problem area and moves her around and makes her stand still from point to point, all the while talking in her ear. I can imagine him telling her, "See, it's OK. Nothing is going to hurt you here." She leaves the track much more settled (and having learned a little something) but her connections a bit shaken.

Will all this work out? Of course it will. I look forward to the day when I write about the best five days that I've ever had racing. This game can take you to great highs but it also makes sure that it keeps you humble.

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