On Saturday morning I planned to speak with Fair Grounds-based trainer, Keith Desormeaux, a blue collar trainer who found himself with a horse capable of starting, and thus possibly getting a piece of the ever-coveted Kentucky Derby Pie. A dream for any trainer, but I thought especially so, since Desmormeaux has been plugging away at this game since 1991 and had never had anything close to a Derby prospect. A nice feature story for my Horse Racing Nation blog and an opportunity for me to get back to my journalist roots.
Instead of proceeding as planned just a few minutes before my 10:15 scheduled interview, Desormeaux learned that Ive Struck a Nerve was likely out of the Derby picture with an unexpected ankle injury. And I found myself in the midst of an actual news story, that I could have broken and almost did. Imagine an elementary school principal who moonlights as a Thoroughbred blogger simply on vacation with his wife making a side trip to the track and then, holding information that no one else in the horse racing media had.
Here's the timeline of my storied Saturday morning…
- 6:00 - Awake following a typical night out on Bourbon Street. For those of you that have done such a thing, you know what this means and I'll leave it at that.
- 6:30 - Taxi to the track and find my way around the backside, setting out to find Keith Desormeaux, who I had never met or even contacted before Saturday morning.
- 6:30 - Watch morning works talk to some folks to find out where Desormeaux is stabled and what his saddle tag looks like; Barn 19 and purple fleur-de lis.
- 7:30 - Introduce myself to Desormeaux and request an interview; Desormeaux says it's a busy morning, but he'll talk to me if I come back at 10:15.
- 9:30 - Walk 10 blocks to closest New Orleans street car, ride back to my Mid-Town hotel and have breakfast with my wife.
- 10:15 - Taxi back to track and catch up with Desormeaux who takes several calls while we try to talk.
- 10:30 - Desormeaux tells me Ive Struck a Nerve is hurt and only he, his hot walker, veterinarian and now me know this information, first-hand.
- 10:45 - Finish a quick interview with Desormeaux, who was generous (despite having every right not to be) with his time through several phone calls.
- 10:45 - Call Horse Racing Nation Managing Editor, Brian Zipse to let him know I have an actual breaking news story that national turf press is still chasing.
- 11:30 - Taxi back to hotel and write from my brief interview and try to out-scoop traditional news sources.
- 12:15 - Post story to Horse Racing Nation a few minutes after Daily Racing Form post theirs online.
Just as interesting was Desormeaux's utter amazement in how quickly the story of his now-injured prized horse leaked out. He told me that I was the fourth person to "know about" Ive Struck a Nerve's injury. He was literally scratching his head over how quickly national turf writers were calling him.
I figure, the backside of a race track, like most communities, has ears and eyes everywhere and many who like to "spread the word" of any news. Desormeaux surmised that someone must have overhead his in-person or phone conversations and passed the news along.
A busy morning of an on-the-site blogger, who almost broke a story of national interest.