In this article, I'm proclaiming my love: for a horse.
As some of you know, I have a more-than-unhealthy love with one particular racehorse of this decade. He might not be the fastest, or have the best Beyer speed figure of the month, and he might have not won any races in more than a year. But, there is a place where he will always be #1: my heart. This horse is Decisive Moment, and this is the story of how I've come to fall in love with a horse that I've never even met.
The basis of my story begins in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, my first real Kentucky Derby, this meaning that it was the first Derby that I watched since becoming interested in racing. I was a supporter of Mucho Macho Man, strictly because of his story. But I saw a black horse take the lead, and all the thought I gave him was “Wow, he's pretty.” This horse ended up finishing 14th out of the whole field.
Next comes the 2011 Indiana Derby. This was the first Derby of any kind I had ever attended. I stood by the paddock, this time a diehard supporter of Shackleford. I mean, who wasn't? This Preakness winner brought fame and money to my state for the day. All of the horses were in the paddock besides one: Decisive Moment. My mother and I were still on the paddock rail, right by the lip-reader. Finally, the black horse strode in. At this point in the story, I must give my mother the credit. She pointed out how beautiful he was, and I snapped 3 pictures of him at that time, all for her. Later, after my obsession hit, I would learn to love and memorize every detail of those pictures. Those were 3 of the 4 pictures I would get of DM that day, mostly because I was awestruck by the awesome Shackleford. I got about 50,000 pictures of him that day.
The race was run, and Wilburn won. The muddy horses traveled back to the barns, with me giving Decisive Moment no extra thought for the rest of that day. I was just amazed by my first graded stakes race viewing. Later in the following months of the year, I was searching through my pictures on my camera. I had not realized what good shots I had gotten of DM until I looked, and I suppose that is when my love began. I was devastated, and I'm still kicking myself for being consumed by Shack's glory and denying Decisive Moment his 15 minutes of fame.
Next comes the Google process. I got what I'm convinced is every single picture of Decisive Moment ever to exist on the internet and I saved it to a file on my computer, while not claiming them as my own. What can I say, I was drowning in the midnight of this horse's color, the sleekness of his coat. I drew pictures of him, inspired from those pictures, which were mostly pre-Kentucky Derby.
After that, I tried writing to both his owner and trainer. I thought, hey, who wouldn't appreciate a fan of their not-famous horse? Either they didn't reach them, or they didn't reply. Either way, I got no response. Though, I suppose I never really expected one either.
I watched every single race of his following his Indiana Derby disappointment. Every single time, my hopes for this horse got lower and lower. He just didn't seem to have an interest in racing. My thoughts spiraled. “What if they retire him? What if they send him off to Canada, never to be heard of again? What if he breaks a leg and gets put down? Maybe since the owner can't support a non-winning horse, maybe they'll sell him to a cruel owner who uses him for work, his beauty never to be admired again?” As you can see, there was and still are a lot of “what if”'s in my mind about this horse.
A few days ago, I got an email for my Equibase Virtual Stable, which of course DM was in. I scanned through it, my eyes picking out “Claiming” and “$100,000.” I freaked out, thinking that he was going to be claimed by an owner who didn't appreciate him and only wanted him to scrape up a few bucks. But luckily, somebody on this site pointed out that it was OPTIONAL claiming, which calmed me down quite a lot. I missed his race, but then watched it online. He was second by half of a length! I was overcome with joy, but not only because of the margin he was second by. I was joyous because he showed great heart, heart that he didn't show in his other races. He fought that upcoming horse, the one named Upgrade on his outside. He was very tired, but then he gave one extra push to become second. I was jumping up and down, which sounds weird; jumping out of joy for a horse losing in an optional claiming race.
I can only wonder what my love will next bring me; whether it might be heartbreak or more enthusiastic jumping, I do not know. I can only hope that the horse I've come to love as much as my own horses will do good and make his owners and me proud.
(Below I've put the 4 pictures of Decisive Moment I took on that day at Hoosier)
Written by Madison Jackson