As I watched a great weekend of racing, I was very fired up when I heard some comments made by a commentator on Saturday and was all ready to unleash the fury right here for all of you. I sat here at my computer ready to unleash, but all I can think about is the victory of Dialed In in the Florida Derby, so I will unleash next week.
I was stuck at work on Sunday when the horses came to the gate in the running of the Florida Derby so I did what any responsible adult would do; I hid in the bathroom with my android waiting for the results. I was checking all day and I knew that the track was not favoring any come from behind victories, but I still held on to the thought that my horse would win because I love this horse. I will tell you it was the longest 1 minute and 50 seconds of my life, but it all happened as I thought it would. Dialed In would be back off the pace and when Leparoux was ready, off they would go. I was excited to read the news, but nothing prepared me for the amount of emotion I would feel when I finally got home to watch the taped race.
I started watching the races from that day that I missed and race after race I watched the front runner finish first. I already knew Dialed In had won, but I didn’t realize how impressive that was until I watched the previous races. The fact that the track was playing for the speed horses was not good for Dialed In’s running style so the track bias was not in his favor. I was very impressed with his ability to win despite the track bias.
I paid close attention to Leparoux throughout the day, how he was riding and how he was feeling. He seemed to be doing very well that weekend, which I think, plays a big role in any big win like that. I know he is one of my favorites so you may think I am bias, but he won a few stakes over the weekend and it is what I have come to expect from him. So all systems were a go in the jockey department.
Then, the race, I watched from a different perspective, because I had already known that my horse had won…thank goodness or I may have had a slight heart attack when Dialed In gave the rest of the field packed full of promising three year olds a 14 length lead. I watched, but you never really saw Dialed In because he was too far off the pace. The race itself did not set up as I and many others thought it would have, but it ended just as I thought it was going to. I waited the whole race to see my horse make his move and finally, he did. I was ecstatic, despite knowing the outcome I was overwhelmed with what I saw. But then, the true story played out.
After crossing the finish line, the normally calm and collected jockey gave a fist pump and after the gallop out the cameras caught the jock celebrating with his horse. It is so fascinating to me to see a jockey who has numerous stakes wins be so impressed with what his horse had just done. Leparoux, normally very collected, was giving his horse the recognition he deserved. The celebration lasted for a couple seconds between the two and then the cameras went to trainer Nick Zito. The hall of fame trainer was just as excited and emotional. It not only showed in his voice, but in his actions and I believe his exact words as he gave HRTV’s Scott Hazelton a big kiss on the check was “…I’m emotional today, I haven’t been this emotional since Strike the Gold…it’s amazing and I am not ashamed of it…once in a while special horses come around.” Zito’s voice was cracking the whole time he talked about the horse and the race. It was incredible, so much emotion and I was emotional.
I know what others are saying, the time was too slow and the gallop out was bad and so on. Here is what I am going to say, they may be right…the time may be slow and the gallop out may have been bad, BUT I think maybe, just maybe Leparoux was letting the horse dictate the race. It appeared (to me) that he did not want the horse to overdo anything. Let Dialed In run his race and only do what he needs to, then after winning the race pull him up to not take too much out of the tank. I don’t really know either way, but that is what I am going to think was happening and on the first Saturday in May, my money will be on Dialed In. Period.
The incredible thing about this game is that you have ups and downs. You find the horse you love and then when they leave you, you have to find another to fill the void. It is not like baseball or football, your favorite team is usually always your favorite team. In horseracing, your favorites are your favorites forever, but they do not race forever so I feel like each year I have had to go out and find another horse that gets me emotional. I think I found one. 2009 gave me Rachel Alexandra and 2010 gave me Blame and now, in 2011 I have Dialed In. God Speed Baby!!!