A story like this is too big to hold back any longer.
Perhaps ready to eclipse Secretariat as the best known thoroughbred of modern times within a single race, or maybe two, Deep Elem Blues (that is what I will call him, as I promised not to use the true name of this horse until his first career race) is the fastest horse I have ever seen. As a matter of fact, he is the fastest horse anyone has ever seen.
Recent calls from a long-time friend, and veteran trainer, Jill Johnson (also holding back her true identity until the official unveiling of Deep Elem Blues) prompted my recent visit to her farm in Indiana. She told me of a horse so incredible, that I simply needed to see him with my own eyes. Expecting it to be a promising young two-year-old, I was surprised to hear it was instead an unraced five-year-old gelding. Johnson informed me that the horse had been so severely injured in a paddock accident as a yearling in his native Argentina, that vets had said he would never make it to the races. Always up for a challenge, Johnson rescued the horse because she liked the look in his eye. Being a son of a South American superstar, and one of her personal favorites as a sire, did not hurt either.
I was stunned at what I saw. Breaking off at least 40 lengths behind his workmate, Deep Elem Blues took off just before the middle of the backstretch of the half-mile training track. Within his first fifty yards, I began to believe everything the veteran horsewoman had been telling me prior to this amazing morning. Johnson had considered the big bay her pet project for more than three years now, and did not take her eyes off him from the moment he stepped onto the track. I was watching closely too, as he continued to gain quickly on his workmate on the turn.
Leveling off through the stretch the first time around, I was awestruck with the amount of ground this monster gobbled up as his front legs reached out for ever new stride. Rippling muscles were obvious throughout his body, and his long black mane stretched behind his purposeful head as the wind he was creating made him look like something out of a movie. Within a quarter mile, he had passed the horse meant to be a target for him. She won an allowance race at Hoosier Park last fall, Johnson said of the four-year-old filly, without taking an eyeball off of Deep Elem Blues. The filly began to slow to a gallop on the backstretch. But the big, black gelding seemed to be going even faster now from my vantage point across the track. Staying close to the rail, through the tight turn, Deep Elem Blues powered past us one more time.
Five and change is what I thought I heard come quietly from Johnson. “Come again?” I said in utter disbelief. “Six in 1:05 and change,” Johnson said nonchalantly, with only a wrinkly smile giving away her complete pride in the horse that she has worked with for so long. She went on to tell me that she probably could have raced him last fall, but she did not want to rush him, and he is still only getting better.
Okay, I thought, I’ve just seen a horse work a world record time for six furlongs. He did it with little urging, and over a deep, half-mile training track. Seldom one who suffers from a lack of words, I could not seem to find the right ones to respond, as Johnson just stared at me waiting for my reaction. Mouth open, I could only stare back.
Oh my God, would be the best I could come up with as the big bay pranced past us on the way to the break. He wasn’t blowing hard enough to extinguish a candle, and looked unlike anything I had quite seen before. Big like Zenyatta, wild like Dr. Fager, with a presence about him that said he knew was special (sorry, no pictures until, you guessed it, his first race.) Finally, the questions began to flow.
Let’s just say he is ready for the races, and his first race should be at Keeneland in the first week of the meet. Johnson tells me that he will begin in a 1 1/16 maiden special weight, before heading straight to stakes company. She says his races will be spaced out a little, but calls him the most durable horse she has ever seen in nearly 50 years around the horses. The Breeders’ Cup Classic will be his main goal this year, but she wants to take him all over for the biggest races in the world in the next few years. She also told me not to be fooled by the fast six furlongs, “He really only gets going after a couple of miles.”
Suffice it to say, I will be chronicling everything Deep Elem Blues does on this column, as he goes from an unraced maiden to the most special horse the world has ever seen. Get ready for something truly unbelievable, racefans. See you at Keeneland!