Everyone should have at least one hero. Whether it be a scientist, fireman, astronaut, sports hero, parent, or the voice of a cause, it’s good to have someone that you hold in such high regard that they can inspire you in profound ways. And if you ever have the chance to meet that special someone in person, it can be an experience that you will happily carry with you for the rest of your life. Yesterday, at Stonestreet Farm, I was not only able to meet my hero, I was able to give her an affectionate, and appreciative kiss on the head.
It had been more than a year since I was close to her, and on that day, it was the business Rachel that I was able to enjoy. The Fleur De Lis was my last Rachel race in person, and her majestic romp through the Churchill Downs stretch was the perfect way to remember the Rachel in which I first fell in love. She was stunning as always and way too powerful and confident, talented and beautiful for her competition on that day. I was in awe, as I had been so many times as one of Rachel’s diehard admirers. But yesterday was different.
Rachel had transformed from superior athlete to a big, sweet, soon-to-be-mom. As the morning unfolded, I saw Rachel in a whole new way. She was still my hero, she was still drop-dead gorgeous, and she was still most certainly my favorite, but now she was no longer Rachel Alexandra the Great, conqueror of the racing world like no other three-year-old filly I have ever seen. She was more approachable, more human, more like a friend.
As Rachel looked at me with those eyes that once had been so full of competitive fire, they now expressed a different story. My heart and my soul were uplifted. Rachel’s eyes were filled with happiness and contentedness. Both more than pleased to be lavished with affection by me and several other Rachel lovers, and looking to be extremely well taken care of, Rachel is a happy horse. Not only was I able to experience a dream day, but I went away feeling content that I now had firsthand knowledge of her life away from the arena which she shined.
On a dreary, damp, and raw day in Kentucky, I smiled for an hour straight. One-by-one, Rachel greeted her fans like a queen … an approachable, friendly queen. As much of a thrill as it was for me to spend quality time with her, I could see the same kind of love from my buddy, Scott Dick, and everyone in the barn. Eight months pregnant, Rachel still glowed like the extraordinary presence that she is. She playfully threw her head a few times, and stuck out that long Rachel tongue, but mostly she just enjoyed the love.
It was a morning I will never forget. She will always be my hero.