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Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Kentucky Derby

Today is Derby day, and of course, for racing fans, we just witnessed the blistering and undisputable win belonging to Barbaro. I think that, as one of the undefeated horses in history who went to the gate undefeated, and yet remains as one of the 6 still-undefeated, he is well on his way to greatness and in fact, has likely just sealed his fate as a high-dollar stud.

I have had a long love-affair with horses in general, and horseracing entered the scene after my first reading of "The Black Stallion" when I was a child.

I still remember my first sight of a horse, up close. I remember my Mom exclaiming about a "horse" coming down the street and she lifted me up so that I could see out of our etched-glass window. I watched nobility pass, bearing a waving mane and tail, prancing with a rider upon his stately back. I cried out, "Oh! I LOVE horses!".

I still remember then that my Mom's response was, "Yes, they are beautiful but you'll grow out of it."

It was a litany I heard throughout my life. We had a pony down the road, and after I was bucked off and feared horses for several years, my parents, Mom in particular, breathed a sigh of relief, thinking my "phase" was over..but it wasn't. Although I was afraid to ride anymore, and as I was not often around them, it didn't affect my love for the creatures.

When I was 13, although my Dad couldn't afford it, he paid for riding lessons every other week. I missed a lot as the class met once each week, but I was thankful for each and every this day, the words of Martha, our instructor, echo in my head. "HEELS DOWN! CHEST OUT! ELBOWS IN! CHIN UP!"

I read all the Walter Farley books, and as a result, this cultivated a love of horseracing even though I'd never seen one. I was ecstatic when Canterbury Downs was built in Shakopee, MN. I remember telling Mom my life plans; I was going to become a jocky. I was going to do this by going up to Canterbury during the season and work as a my way to jockey, and maybe eventually train great horses.

Thank God she didn't understand I was serious...if so, she would have grounded me for life. She was upset, though, and vowed that no daugher of hers would ever do such a thing.

It came to pass, though, when I turned 16, I was there to enjoy the races on that very day. My Dad, as a gift, brought my brother and I to the races, and although I was too young to bet, he let me pick the horses. I had created a "cheat sheet" of owners, trainers, and bloodlines, and I used this to choose my horses.

At that time Canterbury Downs (now Canterbury Park) offered higher purses and thus drew a "higher" crowd of horsemen and horses...I remember that on that day, Texas Trio, who had raced in the Kentucky Derby, entered one of the Canterbury races. I begged my Dad to bet him to win for he was far superior to the rest of his field. My Dad declined, choosing to bet him to show...and Texas Trio won.

That same day happened to be Fan Day, and they were offering a drawing for "A Filly for a Fan", which we entered.

Dad joked that if we won, he would name the filly, "Julie's Dream", after me.

(As an aside to any potential owners...will you consider naming a filly in honor of my Dad and I?)

Anyway, two years prior, in 1988, I had begun writing my own racehorse story, under the influence of Walter Farley and the great filly, Winning Colors. I completed the story and it was laid to rest for many years...ony to be revived in 2001. I did real research in 2002 by visiting Canterbury Park and obtaining permission and an escort "backside" to learn more about the nuts and bolts of racing.

I remember my idealism, back to when I was young; I was going to be a jocky. Although I am still somewhat short, I do not meet the credentials and I have resigned to the fact that I will never be a jockey. Then I figured I would be a trainer...and I have realized that the only option currently open to me is to become an owner...and that is not currently possible.

My status as a non-horseman does not crush me; in fact, a few years ago I grew hopeful when I realized that riding-horse ownership is a very real possibility, althougn not right now. Racehorse ownership? Maybe. We'll see.

For now, though, I wait, and hope, and occasionally go to the races. I have read books, I am slowly and occasionally working on my book, and as of today, I harbor the hope that Barbaro will go on and win the Triple Crown.

Maybe the horses I want to own, and are yet to be named are not in the Derby, but that does not stop my enjoyment.

So if any owners out there want to sell me even a minimal share in a horse, say, $100 in a champion and be willing to name said horse, "Julie's Dream", let me know. I would like to think my Dad, 11 years in his grave, would enjoy that even a portion of our joint dream has come true.

For now, I am content to watch the Derby, and the Preakness, and the Belmont, and wait for the day that I may actually attend to watch my own horse run. Possible? Yes. Probable? No.

Isn't that what dreams are for?


Unknown said...

Did you see that Kentucky Derby race maybe ten years ago when the winner was owned by a quite elderly couple from the Twin Cities? They couldn't even see the track from where they were sitting so their trainer sat with them and called the race for them.

It was an absolute delight to watch.

I've only been to the track once, broke even because someone told me to bet on any horse that is using Lasix for the first time, I did and won $30 to get me to even.

But we did go and look at the horses before they went out to the track. I have to admit that these were really beautiful animals. They were running the "Minnesota Derby" that day so they had better than the normal grade of horse seen there that day.

Question of the Day: How come they always have a "q" in the word verification test?

Adoro said...


I believe you are talking about "Unbridled", and yes, I saw that race. Brought tears to my eyes.

The reason they tell people to bet on horses with Lasix for the first time (denonted with a "L1", is due to the results of the drug. Lasix is a diuretic, used to treat "bleeders", taht is, horses that bleed through the nose. Lasix treats this condition, but there is a controversy surrounding it; it seems that the drug, especially when used for the first time, expends the respiratory system, therby giving the horse in question greater capacity that he or she would have otherwise, and this tends to lead to better results. It is a good bet.

Due to the diuretic capacity, however, it is outlawed in some states, to include New York (where the Belmont is held) because it can act as a masking agent for other performance-enhancing drugs.

"Bute" (I think the full name is phenylbutamine ?) is another drug used for "bleeders" and this I think is also a good bet, but it may also be outlawed in some states. I'll have to look it up.

Um...regarding the letter "q"...I think it's because it's hard to type. Incidentally, my particular verification word for this post does not contain "q", but does contain "p". I think that this system is to discourage dyslexic persons. That's rude.

Adoro said...

I did not adequately address bleeders...the symptom commonly seen is bleeding through the nose. Had to correct that. I remember a particular horse, Demons Begone, was pulled from the Derby one year due to this problem. He was racing and I remember a close-up shot of the jocky pulling him in, and the blood dripping from his nostrils.

The bleeding may begin in the lungs, and so of course, you can see why it's a problem.

Anonymous said...

Father Altier from St. Agnes in Saint Paul and the parish priest, Father Weizbacher are being moved out of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul- Mpls as of June 17.

It was announced today at morning mass.

Anonymous said...

Adoro - I love the races too and so did my daddy. When he died he was cremated and some of his ashes were spread at Belmont near Ruffian's grave by the flagpost. They both died racing - the horse at a race track and my dad from the rat race. Don't mean to derail your just really resonated with me.

Cathy said...

Anon, (and Our Word),
I am terribly sorry to hear this about St. Agnes.
Can you provide more information?
Does anyone know what happened?!

Anonymous said...

There's a good chance that Fr. Altier is simply recieving a response to a request he made years go out west and provide spiritual direction at a monastery.

And the other priest....well, he's retirement age. Maybe he's retiring?

God bless them both. WE will all miss them, but I am confidant that the ARchbishop will appoint someone solid to St. Agnes--after all, the parish is famous and ground for many ordinations. (I think it's 15 this year...last year it was 16, and both classes contain priests from St. A)