Photo: Kevin Creative (Kevin House)
Thoroughbred owners can go a lifetime
without acquiring a horse who can make an impact on the Triple Crown, but such success
has come quickly for Donegal Racing, which on Saturday will attempt to win its
first Classic when the partnership, headed by Jerry Crawford, sends out Dullahan in the Belmont Stakes.
In 2008, Crawford formed a partnership
among friends after purchasing eight yearlings at auction. One of the
yearlings, Paddy O’Prado, went on to win the Grade 1 Secretariat and
finish third in the Kentucky Derby for Donegal and trainer Dale Romans. Two
years later, Donegal and Romans were third in the Derby once again, this time with Dullahan.
“Our partnership ranges from people
who have been in the horse business for decades to people who had never been to
a horse race until they became a partner in this,” said Crawford, an
attorney from Des Moines, Iowa.
Crawford, who has served as the Iowa chair or co-chair
for seven presidential campaigns, including Bill Clinton’s in 1996, said
22 partners are involved with Dullahan and that the group will have 300 supporters
in tow on Saturday.
“Donegal started as a group of
close friends, and it’s expanded to include close old friends and close
new friends,” said Crawford. “We get to share experiences with our
families and close friends, and that’s one of the best things life has to
Romans said he wouldn’t mind being
booed if Dullahan won the Belmont,
and Crawford expressed a similar, albeit slightly softer, sentiment.
“You can imagine the range of
emotions is great, but we’re a very upbeat group, so being cast in the
role of potential spoiler is a little alien to our personality,” said
Crawford. “It’s our job [to challenge I’ll Have Another]. This
is what we owe Affirmed, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat. If I’ll Have
Another wins, I’ll be first in line to say, ‘This is an incredibly
On Thursday, Dullahan galloped 1 ½ miles
and schooled in the paddock prior to the fourth race.