Yesterday, we rushed home from the horse show to watch the Kentucky Derby. I don’t know how many Derbies I have seen but I suspect it is over 45. Every year, as a child, my folks would attend a huge Derby party. My sister and I never missed the Run for the Roses either. About third grade, I started my obsession with Man O’War after reading the Walter Farley book and my interest in all things about racehorses increased.
My dad had quarter horses, although not running horses, but my uncle in Oklahoma owned or had stakes in several. I loved visiting their home and seeing the winner’s circle pictures lining the walls. I grew up just miles from Arlington Park in Illinois and followed the races daily every summer if only through the results in the newspaper.
Since then, I have owned an Arab that ran very successfully on the track (I didn’t even know they had Arab horse races!). I certainly have owned quarter horses that raced (including my current horse, Kid). I have owned four off-the-track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) including Bruno. So, this is not a new concept to me. I love being able to trace the lineage of my OTTB back in history. I love being an OTTB owner but until last night I had NEVER seen a horse I owned ever actually race on the track.
Oh, the marvels of the times we live in! Lauren and I got to talking about Bruno after the Derby. And in what is common for our evenings, I was in my room across the hall from her bedroom and we were talking back and forth from room to room. First, she asked if I was sure Bruno was born in 2007. I said, yes-what are you doing? She told me she wanted to look him up. I gave her the website I visit for pedigrees – www.allbreedpedigree.com
Next, thing she was asking me if I wanted to see Bruno run a race. Now, I had tried to find video of one of the four races that Bruno had run-but hadn’t been able to locate any. I said before that he had run to second place at Belmont Park in New York, but it was actually at Aqueduct Park. Still, New York though and still second.
It was actually just over two years ago, that Bruno, although big and slow out of the starting gate, thundered down the track from last place to take second. It was his best race, it was only one of four. Two weeks later in time, Bruno went to post again. I watched the video that showed the big horse dreadfully last, not even staying with the pack. It was the last race he ran. Was the hoof infection running rampant in his foot even then? I will never know why he started racing relatively late (at four) or how much his bad foot accounted for his inability to run. I will just marvel at the opportunity to see him run on the track at all, catching sight of his white nose and four white socks in the grainy video.
Really the biggest treat of the night was the unadulterated delight in my daughter’s face as she saw her favorite man on the track. Lauren was absolutely thrilled to see what has clearly become her favorite horse of all time (pushing Mickey out of his all-star role) roar down the track. Over and over (and we have now watched the video at least 16 times), like a child spotting their favorite Disney character in person for the first time, Lauren exclaimed with joy as her ‘Bru-Brady’ came out of the starting gate and onto to the track. As he mounted his challenge of the lead horses, Lauren sat mesmerized again and again that the horse on the track in New York was the same one she has cared for night and day for so many months.
Pretty exciting stuff, I must say. Here is the link to the video. Bruno’s registered name in ‘Fiddler’s Pilgrim’ he is number 2 in post position, in the green and white silks. Lauren swears he is much bigger than the other horses on the track, but I can’t see it clearly enough to tell.
The dogs barking in the background are mine. Homemade video has technical inadequacies but tells the story. What an absolute delight to see your backyard thoroughbred coming down the home stretch, especially on Derby day when America all dreams of a owning a winning thoroughbred.
This horse has captivated the heart of my daughter. He has come so many miles (literally from New York to Texas) and been through so much. I suspect if he never gets any better than he is today, Lauren would love him and keep him the rest of his life.