Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tabby Second and a Star Goes Dark


We knew going into the race that Tabby Lane would have a tough time with the distance.  Six furlongs has just not been her gig since she’s matured.  The reality is that she is a pretty good miler, but the starter allowance condition was just too good to pass up so we took a shot at six furlongs with a closer going up against a track bias toward speed and we got the predictable result.

Tabby finished a solid second. Dean Butler had her in great position all the way around but she simply could not close on the racetrack.  She was closer to the pace than she usually is had clear sailing on the outside as they turned for home.  He had everything set up for her – except he didn’t groom the racetrack (Dean, could you work on that?).  Once he knew she had second secured and that he wouldn’t catch the winner, he dialed her down.  It was perfect and we live to fight another day while covering the bills for another month.

I tend to look at second place as being the first loser, I admit it.  Always have. Obscure Ted fact: in 1981 I set the Massachusetts state record for the 50 meter indoor high hurdles in a semi-final heat in the state high school championships.  I came in second in the final.  First loser.  Thankfully my team, Peabody High School, won the team championship and took virtually all of the sting out of the loss.  My name was erased from the record books a couple of years later and can’t be found.  Why?  Because I finished 2nd in the final and, while the winners are listed, second places fade away.

I’ve gotten better over time – though the folks around me initially on Saturday would beg to differ (sorry Annie and Jay!).  The bitter disappointment was my own fault.  It wasn’t so much that she finished second, but I let my own imagination get carried away before the race.  Tabby is who she is: a six year old mare with nearly 40 races under her belt and enough time to prove to us that she is a miler that can compete between $10,000 and $16,000 claiming with a lot of tread off her tires.  My delusions were her winning this race, improving off her next and maybe tackling the HBPA Mile this summer.  Admittedly this was absolutely ludicrous – and I KNOW better – but I let it take over my head and the disappointment in a loss was magnified.  Upon reflection, given all that she was up against, she did great, came out of the race well enough and keeps paying the bills.  Most importantly, she is still and absolute sweetheart in the barn and my visits with her are a continuing joy.  Lesson relearned.

DARK STAR (1946 -2012)

There is nothing that I can add to the legacy of Dark Star or the tributes that have been pouring in for him.  Two of the best are from Jim Wells for the Canterbury Park blog and Patrick Reusse in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

I only got to know Dark over the last couple of years when I hit the Canterbury press box full time for the racing season with the Daily Racing Form but it was a great couple of years.

Dark could change a room by his presence. You always laughed more with Dark in the box. If you had a tough day at the windows, Dark would make it bearable (probably because his 4-5 at Hollywood just got beat in the early Pick 4).  Twins mired in a losing streak?  Guaranteed that Dark could find a way to look at it that you wouldn’t have thought of. 

One Thursday night last year my then 15-year old son, Ben, come with me to work.  He sat up there for the night and was bored out of his mind.  It was a quiet evening with not a lot happening but the races.  There were only five of us up in the press box and I think he was very disappointed in his first press box experience.

To my surprise, Ben asked to come to work on Saturday before he went back to him mom’s house.  I said absolutely and out he came.  We settled in and on this day there were a few more folks in the box, including Dark.  Dark had stories and one-liners and was in rare form.  He related stories to Ben like a person, not as a kid, and Ben appreciated that.  As we left the track for the day my son said to me, “Dad, today was a LOT more fun. Dark is a great guy.”

He sure was, son.  He sure was.

No comments: