The gates snapped open, and the black horse in stall 1 was out sprinting before the rest of them. Immediately, he had a casual 2 length lead over the next horse, who was some 10-1 long shot who would end up finishing out of the money. His hooves came up to his chest and then punished the ground repeatedly into the turn, where the 7 horse (the 10-1 shot) came up to his neck and pushed him further. If I remember correctly, the first fractions were fast for Decisive Moment: 22.82 and 46.7. Now DM’s lead was down to a neck, and they were just entering the backstretch. At this point, deep down, I knew we had it lost. It was too fast of a pace, and there were some nice closers in this race.
Into the far turn they went, and DM’s lead was a small half length over Night Party, the 7 horse. The end of the field was quickly catching up to them, but I still had hope. He was at the top of the stretch, but his lead was quickly diminishing. Our only hope was that the left handed stick would give him more motivation and energy for one last push. DM’s jockey, C. C Lopez, went to switch to his left, but then the rail opened up the smallest bit, and Kris Royal tried to squeeze his way through. Now, DM had no more energy, and the jockey was useless to keep using the right stick.
The horses barreled down the stretch, and last year’s winner, A Diehl, came rocketing out of the rear to win over a trying Kris Royal and a closing Derby Kitten. DM came in 4th but only finished a length and a half behind the winner.
The jockeys slowed the horses down, brought them to the grooms, hopped off, and then left the horses to go rest. DM was one of the last ones to arrive, but he was sweat covered and blowing and inhaling air rapidly through his large nostrils. A few pictures were snapped by me before I went over to my table (just a normal table, not the owner's table), where my mother, father, and Mr. Arias were conversing.
“Well,” the horse’s trainer said while shrugging his shoulders. “Those were really fast fractions, and the jockey couldn’t use his left handed whip because of that horse on our inside.” I nodded after he said that, because it was true.
“Overall, though, were you pleased with the jockey’s ride?” I asked him, and he seemed to consider this, just as he did with my question about petting DM.
“Ummm, well, not really,” He went on to explain why, with my parents and me listening intently. “I wish I could just have the same rider each race,” Mr. Arias finished out. I thought about this, and I found it to be true myself. C. C. Lopez had never been on DM before that day’s race, and letting that horse on the inside rail had been a stupid move, granted. But, then again, other than that, I couldn’t really find anything else wrong with his ride.
“The worst type of running style a horse can have, Decisive Moment has,” Mr. Arias continued.
“He has to go to the lead first, it has to be his way, or else he just doesn’t try,” He said, and it wasn’ like I hadn’t noticed that.
As my parents’ questions ranged further, and my listening began to improve all the more, I found ourselves all talking as if we had known each other forever. Mr. Arias told us about some of the horses he had, how he has 4 two year olds that look simply wonderful, and even managed to tie in a surprisingly funny joke. We also learned a little about his family, and he showed us a picture of his youngest son who just graduated kindergarten. (He was adorable!) Mr. Arias also told us how he came to ride his first horse in a race, and how he was only 6 years old when he broke that first two year old. My jaw was almost at the floor after he told us all of these. I couldn’t imagine anybody breaking a 2 year old at any age under 16, let alone at 6 years old!
“Mr. Sierra (DM’s Owner, in case you missed that) has three farms, with about a capacity of 80 horses each,” The trainer said when we asked about the owner. “He just bought a new one, with a track and a few nice paddocks for right after they get done working out. Their stalls, it’s like a jail for them, so it’s nice to let them run around and cool off like that.”
After saying our goodbyes, and after Mr. Arias saying that he was leaving around 9:00 AM the next morning with DM for Monmouth, and after he invited us to say goodbye, and after he said that we could come any time before them, that he would wait for us, after all of that, my mother, father, and I all went to our hotel and slept.
The next morning, I woke up bright eyed and ready to see my horse. Although we still had an hour and fifteen minutes before our target time of 7:45 AM, I rushed around and did everything to wake me up as quickly as possible. And, slowly but surely, my parents drank their coffee and were ready to visit DM for what could be the last time.
We drove straight by the entrance gate, since it was unoccupied, and took ourselves to DM’s barn. We got out of the car, casually walked into the barn like we owned the place, and saw Mr. Arias normally drinking his morning coffee. We greeted with handshakes, and I once again took to looking at DM. His groom was in with him, brushing him down and combing his mane. Every once in a while DM would playfully reach back and nip at him, but it didn’t seem like it was to cause any pain.
Next, my parents still talking to Mr. Arias, the groom put on DM’s halter and mouth chain and took him out of his stall. He then guided him down the middle of the barn and out side, and then to the left, where I lost sight of him. Then, after a good minute or so, he reappeared behind me, at the beginning of our end of the barn. I knew then that he was just walking him off, and he would repeatedly keep doing so until the trainer told him to stop.
Finally, my parents told me it was time to go. I was sad, but I was looking forward to seeing all of the pictures I took of my wonderful, black horse. One statement, though, one that Mr. Arias told us earlier, kept going through my mind.
“Decisive Moment has a full yearling brother.”
Written by Madison Jackson Race replay: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/race/USA/IND/2013/6/15/5/j-kenneth-self-shelby-county-boys-and-girls-club-s
Some of the pictures I took those days: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75266763@N03/