Friday, September 22, 2017

All Good Things Take Time...Lots of It

I remember a time a few years ago when we had multiple horses actively racing.  It was sometimes just a matter of days in between races.  I remember waiting for the next race was brutal…days seemed like weeks and on race day hours seemed like weeks.  I wish I could take a time machine back to those times and tell myself to relax and enjoy it because when 2017 rolls around you will try your hand at the breeding game…

And…it…will…be…very…very…very…very…s..l…o…w….


The overall slowness is magnified greatly by the fact we don’t have anything else racing.  It isn’t due to lack of effort.  We’ve been trying to buy a horse for over a year since we quickly (and wisely) parted ways with Royal Troon.  In late 2016 we bought into a horse name Tink and Tiger and raced him on New Years Eve at the Meadowlands.  Pretty exciting right?  He was claimed after one start.  Back to the drawing board.

Danny and I are doing our best to be selective and to date we have done a spectacular job because outside of Tink and Tiger, we have selected no one.  Not a single race horse has entered our stable.  Prices are very high and we are working with a limited bankroll.  This fact was driven home on Labor Day when we headed down to Springfield to try and get our hands on a reasonably priced Illinois bred horse.  We had about 10 to bid on and set clear purchase price limits before we started to bid.  Over the course of about 3 hours, I was about to put my hand in the air one time but never even got that bid in.  Back to the drawing board again.

Despite the slowness, we can at least be very thankful for our baby boy (and are happy to share a couple of pictures!).  He will always be referred to as Mini Mo, but he now has an actual name.  As Fast As You.  We found it to be pretty fitting given he comes from an ‘underdog’ sire.  Someday we dream of him lining up against more royally bred pacers and proving that he is, in fact, as fast as you.  The old Dwight Yoakum song was also a bit of an inspiration.  We've gone to visit him twice but not since June.  It is crazy how fast he has grown up (the one counter to general slowness).  He's a very sharp looking little guy.

These pictures are great because it shows he really does look like his old man (horse).  In about 12 months or so, we will be able to start the process of getting him trained and ready for his 2 year old season.  Given the fact we are nearly two years away from him making his first start (hopefully), it is really hard to imagine what it will feel like to watch him on the racetrack.  Will he deliver the same excitement In Over My Head did?  Will we become as attached as we did with In Over My Head?  We will just have to wait and see I guess.

While we wait for Mini Mo, we aren’t giving up on finding a new horse and are heading down to Lexington in two weeks to see if we can find something.  I’m not sure we can wait two more years before we have something racing.  While it is still fun to follow racing, it is far more fun when you have a horse in the race (literally and figuratively).


If we end up with a four legged investment, I’ll be sure to share some updates.  Until then, wish us luck.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Next Generation

The next generation has arrived.

About 10 months ago, Danny and I purchased a mare we had never seen from someone we never met in person.  The only thing we really knew about the mare was that she was in foal to In Over My Head.  The plan was simple.  Cross our fingers and expect that roughly 10 months in the future we would have a little colt that resembled his dad.  Seemed easy enough, right? 

This was all based on the simple hope that we could extend the experience we had with In Over My Head.  Since he was done racing, we’d have to look to the next generation to keep this ride going.  I'm quite certain that anyone in the breeding business would have told us to temper our expectations.  It is far from a given that you will ever end up with an offspring with all the features we wanted.  Luckily, we didn’t take the time consult anyone with any actual experience prior to making the decision because if we did, this latest chapter would likely not be written.

As we forged ahead holding onto the motto, “Ignorance is bliss” we simply waited for our Mini Mo to arrive.  A couple other mares started to have baby Mo’s.  Some were colts, some were fillies.  Some looked like him, others did not.  All seemed to look really good overall (which is great for Mo’s future breeding options) and we were starting to get pretty anxious to see ours.

It was on Monday morning of April 17th that Danny and I got a text from Lesa Peters telling us that it could be any day now.  The mare, Crystal Slipper, was getting close and the happy-go-lucky feeling of “let’s just wait for our little Mo to come along” started to fade away. 

What happened next started to resemble the feeling prior to a race.  On race day, the last handful of minutes prior to the start is when doubt washes over you like a tidal wave.  The same thing started to happen with us and our little plan for a mini Mo.   

What if we don’t get a colt that looks like Mo?  I guess that would be OK, but it would lose some luster.  What if we don’t get a colt at all…what if it’s a filly?  We got over that one too…fillies can really be just a fun.  We even came up with a girl name, but deep down we still hoped for colt.  The real concern was health.  What if something happened during birth?  What if he or she only has 3 legs???

Much like waiting for your own kids to be born you do just that.  Wait.  It was out of our control and just hoped for the best.

On Tuesday April 18th I woke up in the middle of the night.  Hoping that I still had a couple of hours to sleep before the alarm went off, I checked my phone to see what time it was.  The time was actually 4am, but there was something else that caught my eye.  I noticed that two text messages that had come in after I went to bed.  The first was a picture what appeared to be a horse.  The second was a text from Danny. 

I knew that our horse had been born.  Was it a boy?  Did it look like In Over My Head?  As my heart rate quickly started to pick up speed, I sat up in bed and unlocked the phone.
The first message that I read was from Danny: 
  
“Now THAT looks like Mo!  Wow.” 

Engage goosebumps.  Heart rate continuing to accelerate.  Next I went to the picture and here is what I saw:

My response back to Danny:

“Holy smokes!!!  It’s a baby Mo!”

After 10 months of waiting, it’s official.  Our plan worked.  We have a Mo clone!!! 

Well at least in terms of looks which is a great start.

This little guy is darn near a spitting image of his father.  What is just as exciting is that Lesa said that he has shown some similar personality traits as his old man.  Hopefully he gets Mo’s intelligence to go with his good looks.

We will be forced to live in reality at some point, but for now, we can look at him as our little future champion.  We can think about seeing him out on the racetrack, closing hard like his daddy did as we run into the winner circle to celebrate another victory.  We will obviously have to wait to see if those things ever play out, but at least now have a little horse that we can go visit.  We can get to know his personality and hopefully start to form a connection like we did with Mo.

Over the last few months, I have hung a lot of racing memorability in our basement showing the multiple generations of our family’s time in the business. I have a magazine cover of Speedy Rodney winning the United Nations Trot in 1964, a win picture from the 1980s with Grandpa, Greg, my dad and brother Kirk, a win picture of Kirk’s filly from the 1990s, Grandpa and Greg’s horses from the early 2000’s and of course many pictures of In Over My Head, Greg, Danny, Kacy, Laura and me.  I’m very proud of the collection, but we have a gap forming from the most recent picture, which was from the summer of 2015.

After Mini Mo was born, I was thinking that maybe I should hang a picture of him, but hesitated since he hasn’t won anything yet (and won’t for a least a couple years…if ever!).  After further reflection, I’ve changed my mind. He is going on the wall long before he ever races.  He’s an extension of the dream and he belongs with all the horses that came before him no matter what he ends up doing as a racehorse.

As of April 18th at 1:10am I can officially say the dream is alive and well.  Welcome to the family Mini Mo….now we just need to get you an official name!  

Danny and I plan to head down for a visit in the next couple of weeks and we will bring back more pictures.  Until then, I'll let you decide if the two look alike:


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Post Script

We ended this story about a year ago and when I made the last post I honestly thought it was the end.  Not the end of Danny and I owning racehorses, but the end of our story with In Over My Head.  Since the last entry, I can confirm that Danny and I did not have any luck with the yearling we purchased and have already sold him at a sale this fall.  However, we are not horseless…

About the same time we realized our yearling had turned into a not a very good two year old, Danny received a text message with a photo of a horse.  Her name was Crystal Slipper…neither of us knew who she was.  Her owner, Lesa Peters, was the person we sold Mo to last fall and she planned on selling Crystal in a sale later in the summer.  Before committing to the sale she wanted to offer Crystal to us first.  Crystal was not a racehorse, she was a broodmare.  Her racing days ended many years ago.  Why would we have any interest in a horse that doesn’t race?  Well, this mare had one unique characteristic.  Crystal was pregnant and Lesa had a sneaking suspicion that Danny and I would be pretty interested given who the father was.  You can probably guess the answer.  The father is In Over My Head.

After much back and forth we made the somewhat illogical decision to buy her based on the even more illogical idea that her offspring will be just like its daddy.  It was kind of a last second Hail Mary hoping that we could extend the story of In Over My Head.  Time will tell if the decision was a good one, but for now it certainly feels good to know there is a chance was could add a sequel to our little adventure.

Danny and I came up with excellent justification for our decision.  We decided that buying a yearling who wasn’t any good was a sign that we should give up on yearlings for a while and invest our money into something that rekindled the emotional tie to racing (how’s that for spin…).  We were also treated to some interesting ‘coincidences’ involving the old In Over My Head t-shirts we had made back in 2012.  Those coincidences brought us back to the strange occurrences that seemed to happen during the “glory days” of Mo. 

The first occurred the day that Danny got the text from Lesa.  My laws were watching the kids that day and I was really excited to tell them about our plan to buy this mare who was carrying Mo’s baby.  They have always been so interested and supportive in our horse racing endeavors I knew they’d love the story.  When I opened the door and saw my mother in law, I stopped dead in my tracks.  She was wearing her In Over My Head t-shirt.  Said she couldn’t remember the last time she wore it.  “Why today?” I asked.  No reason, she said, just felt like putting it on. 

The second involved our friends the Wheelers.  The Saturday after I send the check down to Lesa to purchase Crystal Slipper, I was at the Madison Zoo with my son Jordan.  We don’t see the Wheelers much anymore since we moved from Madison, but they were down at Balmoral Park the night Mo had his five race win streak snapped by injury back in 2012.  I bumped into Sacia Wheeler first and after some small talk I asked where her husband Brett was.  She said he’s over looking at the polar bears and just then he turned around:

“Hey Swenny!  What are the odds seeing you here today???  What do you think of my shirt???”

He, of course, was wearing his In Over My Head shirt.  I stared at him speechless for a second and he asked what was wrong.  After I explained the background on Crystal Slipper being in foal to Mo and that I just mailed the check to buy her the day before he was the one who was speechless.  “Wow…that’s crazy.  I never wear this shirt anymore…not sure why I put it on today.” 

Do two random t-shirt flashback experiences mean that Crystal Slipper will have a colt this spring that will turn out to be just like In Over My Head?  Of course it does!  That’s what we are going with anyway.  We may end be being proven wrong, but the nice thing about the breeding business is that we have a long runway to dream big dreams.  The colt or filly won’t even be able to race for about two and a half years.   That’s plenty of time for Danny and I to build up a very realistic scenario that this horse will be just like Mo, but not suffer any of the career altering injuries that he had to deal with.  Like Mo, this horse will take us on a journey that we can share with our kids, just like Greg got to share Mo with us. 

Seems feasible, doesn’t it?  Maybe it’s in the cards, maybe its not, but it feels good to be back in the game.  I’ve seen more than one Hail Mary work.  Maybe this one will too.



Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Closing the Book On Our Incredible Adventure

When I started this blog over seven years ago, I always said I’d write about the good times as well as the bad times.  I’ve been pretty true to my word with one very big exception.  What I have avoided is something we never saw coming back in 2009.  While we all knew that our run with In Over My Head would eventually come to an end, we had no idea just how difficult it would be.  After about four months, I think it is finally time to finish the story and share the part that was not talked about.

I’ll summarize as simply as I can:

On October 23, 2015 we sold In Over My Head.

On November 4, 2015 Greg Carey passed away.

This entire endeavor has been about In Over My Head, our relationships with the horses and the experience we shared, but I was intentionally leaving out a big piece of the narrative.  It wasn’t my place to discuss Greg’s battle with cancer. 

The last time I spoke with Greg on the phone was just after we made official arrangements to sell In Over My Head.  Life was getting tough for him at that point, but he had somehow managed to maintain and almost unbelievably strong and upbeat attitude when we’d talk on the phone or get together.  I’d always tell people that if you talked to Greg on the phone, you’d never know he was sick. 

On the day we talked about In Over My Head he was extra upbeat.  We could all feel the combined relief that we had closed the book on a wonderful adventure in such a good way by giving Mo a chance to be a stallion.  Greg knew he would never personally see Mo’s offspring on the racetrack, but he did know the legacy would live on.  I think it brought him some peace.  That horse meant the world to him. 

I have always been drawn to the iconic speech that coach Jim Valvano gave at the ESPY’s in 1993.  It was something that I always wanted to watch, but at the same time thought about avoiding because it was so gut-wrenching.  His body was failing him when he gave that speech, but his spirit was so strong it was as if he was able to rise above the fray of his own fight.  The speech was truly inspiring with words that will always stick with me:

“Cancer can take my physical abilities.  It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul.  And those three things are going to carry on forever.”

Now imagine watching someone go through a similar challenge with one big difference.  The person bravely battling through cancer isn’t a famous coach talking on TV…it’s someone you love.  It is equal parts inspiring and sad.  The thought of it now still gives me a rush of sorrow, yet at the same time makes me want to jump out of my chair and go do something…anything…to enjoy all the blessings that I have in life.    

Despite the desire to continue to try and live life to the fullest, the slow march to the inevitable ending was a tough one.  As a part of those preparations we had to sell our horses.  It was an easy thing for us to talk about at first because we still had some time.  The sands in the hourglass were getting low, but we knew they weren’t running out just yet.  I do remember the day that John Butenschoen called me and gave me the news that we found a buyer for Don’t Tell Wayne.  Reality set in quickly and I was immediately nervous.  I asked him what price the buyers had offered.  When he told me I couldn’t hold it together very well.  The offer was exactly what we had been hoping for, but I knew what it meant.  We were one step closer to not owning horses together anymore.

The sale of In Over My Head was the last piece needed to complete the puzzle none of us wanted to finish.  Danny made it his personal mission to find Mo a good home.  He worked so hard to make it happen and found a way to pulled it off.  It is probably fitting that the last last conversation I had with Greg was about the horse that brought us even closer together and brought us so much joy.  It was even more fitting that Danny and I called Greg together that night.  While I will always regret not having one last time to talk, I am glad that our last conversation was such a positive one.

Owning horses with Greg was so rewarding and so much fun.  Now that it’s over I feel tired.  Horse racing is a family legacy thing with us.  We’ve carried the torch up and down a long path full of celebration, frustration and at the end sorrow.  It feels like it is over.  It feels like we should just set the torch down and step away.  I’ve asked myself the question more than few times, is now a good time to walk away from racing?  How can we top what has happened?  It feels empty without Greg and I’m not sure how that’s going to change.  We made a nice profit off our last couple horses…should we just take our chips off the table?

Well, taking chips off the table would probably be the smart thing to do, but it rarely leads to an adventure of a lifetime.  I went back to my first post of this blog from January of 2009 and was quickly reminded that I probably should have never bought In Over My Head in the first place, but look where that took us.  This last fall, Danny and I had a decision to make.  Do we continue to forge ahead with this incredibly unique passion of owning race horses or do we do the smart thing and just quit while we are ahead?

We decided to try and forge ahead, but ran into an issue that made us think that we made the wrong decision. We had scheduled a trip down to Lexington in October to try and find a yearling, but the night before were we suppose to leave we had to cancel the trip due to Greg’s condition.  We were really down, but decided to sent a few hip numbers down to John and said if he can could get any for less than $20,000, we’d take a piece.  As fate would have it, he was able to purchase one of the horses we had targeted and now we own 50% of a two year old colt out of Rocknroll Hanover.  Greg would certainly be proud. 

I’d be lying if I said I’m as excited about this colt as I was when we bought In Over My Head (or Showtime Shark or Don’t Tell Wayne), but that can change.  We are still trying to bounce back.  While, it feels empty without Greg, I know he’s’ smiling down on us giving us encouragement to just enjoy the ride. He loved being around horse racing and both Danny and I want to march forward not only for our own enjoyment, but for Greg too.

There is nothing like owning a racehorse.  No experience offers the same range of emotions, but as I’ve learned over the past six years there is REALLY nothing like owning a racehorse with people you care about.  You will go on a journey together.  There is no itinerary.  You just need to go with the flow and adjust on the fly. 

In order to really try and drive home the importance racing has had on our family, I leave you with this.  Grandpa was buried with a horse blanket that Speedy Rodney won in a big race out at Yonkers in 1965.   Greg was buried with the blanket that In Over My Head won in the Windy City Pace in 2009.  Danny and I don’t have any blankets, nor do we have the financial wherewithal to make too many more runs at this.  If we end up with a couple of duds, the flame will burn out.  That’s just the harsh reality.


Then again who knows…maybe we will get lucky again.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

The End and the Beginning All Rolled Into One

Owning horses will cause your hands to shake sometimes.  I can distinctly remember when In Over My Head first made my hands shake.  It was right after we bought him at an auction.  The excitement got the best of me and I couldn’t even sign my name on the sales slip.  From that day on, he caused my hands to shake many times.  Normally this was after a big race and once text messaging became more prevalent (can you believe that Mo’s career goes back to the early stages of sending text messages???) the hand shaking phenomenon become more noticeable.  Today, Mo made my hands shake one last time…and for a very unique reason.

He passed his fertility test.

Let me take a step back since I haven’t had an updated since June.

This season marked Mo’s 8th as a racehorse.  At times, he looked like his old self.  Other times, he was starting to look his age.  He had three wins in six starts and going into his seventh start there was no reason to think he wouldn’t get his fourth win on the season.  We had no idea that July 25, 2015 was about to mark the end of one of the most exciting, gratifying, humbling and memorable experiences in our lives. 

When the gate folded that night, Mo make an uncharacteristic break.  After he got back on stride, his driver, Kyle Wilfong, urged him to pick up the pace.  He made another break.  This went on again and finally Kyle just let Mo do his thing.  What Mo did was pace around the Balmoral oval in about two minutes, some 30 lengths from the leader.  He was trying to communicate something very simple to us.  He was trying to tell us that he didn’t want to race anymore.   

In his previous 87 starts, Mo had never given anything less than a 100%, run through a wall effort.  Even through injury…hell, even when he got hurt IN THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE.  Nothing stopped him.  He was a runaway freight train.  Suddenly, he flipped the switch and ended things on his own terms.  It took us about 2 minutes to come to the conclusion that there was be no more races.  While he was sore, the great thing was that he did not have any major injuries.  Even though he was about to be retired, we had him checked out anyway.  No minor breaks or tears could be found.  We were always worried he would end his career with some sort of injury, but he made sure to pull the plug before that happened.  He was healthy enough to easily transition to the next stage of his career…but what was that going to be?

We needed to find him a good home.  Preferably a home that allowed him to, you know, be a stallion.  We knew it wouldn’t be easy.  The stallion game is a tough one and while Mo has shown many of the traits needed to become a successful stallion, the competition is fierce.  We would need to find the right niche.  So we went to work.

Danny took the lead and he reached out to numerous small farms in California, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana among others.  We had a nice package of information with a letter explaining why he would be a good fit.  For a while, it was silence, then we got a call back from someone in Iowa.  She had about 5 mares and knew of others that might want to breed to him.  Perfect.
We were thrilled at the thought that our boy was going to get a chance to live the life of a stallion.  We started having visions of his babies at racetracks.  We thought that maybe one day we could have one of our own.  However, there was one important obstacle that needed to be hurdled.  He needed to prove his ability to be a stallion.  He was…well…not experienced when it came to the ladies.

So, we set up an appointment at a clinic in Cedar Rapids, near the farm of the prospective owners.  The deal was clear.  If he passed his test, she’d take him.  If not, we’d have to come up with a new plan and the dream of stallion life for Mo would be over.  That’s a lot of pressure.

Luckily, our plan ended up working.  Mo passed!  Not only did he pass, but apparently he is considered “extremely fertile”.  This is a great sign for his new owners and will allow him to move smoothly to his next career.  When we got the news, I was actually supposed how excited I was.  It was like he just won a race! 

We shouldn’t have been surprised at our excitement.  Mo has given us so much over the past eight years.  I’ll likely do one more post that is a final summary of this story, but it is hard to describe how gratifying it is for us to be able to give Mo this second career he deserves.  He should be a stallion on some level.  His stats don’t to him justice.  He’s a million dollar horse and hopefully he can pass along all those wonderful traits to his future offspring.  We can’t wait to see that little colt one day with the dark coat, star in the middle of his forehead and white left front leg.  When we do, I think we may just have to make the owner an offer they can’t refuse.

It’s also nice knowing that it isn’t over for Mo.  There is more to his story.  He won’t just be ours anymore, but Mo was meant to be shared.  He can make more people happy and find a special place in their heart just like he has with us.


So from now on, we don’t need to say “Let’s Go Mo” anymore.  I think “Go Get Em Mo” is a little more appropriate.    

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Expectations

I remember listening to a podcast (It think it was the TED Radio Hour) and they were interviewing Mike Row.  Mike became pretty well known for his time hosting “Dirty Jobs” and he was talking about how virtually every one of the people he worked with on that show were happy.  They may not have loved their dirty job each and every day, but were generally happy. When the host asked Mike what he thought the key to happiness was, his answer made me think (and laugh):

Set low expectations

If only I could apply that to the world of horse racing and horse ownership.

This was a big weekend for our little stable and a huge weekend if you take into account American Pharoah’s run for the Triple Crown. 

Here were my expectations for the weekend:
American Pharoah – Win
Mo – Win
Don’t Tell Wayne – Struggle

Here is what actually happened:
American Pharoah – Win!   What an awesome thing to watch!  It made me misty eyed…so cool.
Mo – Fifth.  Hugely disappointed…more on that later
Don’t Tell Wayne – Second!  Big pick me up to end the weekend.

For Mo, my expectations were out of line.  This isn’t’ the first time it’s happened…I’ve written about it before, but it can have an enormous impact on the aftermath of the race.  If you stop and think about my expectation for Mo, it was to win under the following conditions:  He was off 22 days after scratching sick the week before, this was only his 3rd start of the season, he had yet to race this year on the big mile track at Balmoral, he didn’t have his normal driver (although Kyle Wilfong has driven him in the past), he was coming off an minor injury and he was stepping up against a better bunch of horses.

Why the hell did I think he was going to win?

You know why?  Because it’s Mo and that’s what he does.  But even the best lose once in awhile (the Cleveland Lebron’s dropped the first game of the NBA Finals).  I need to remember that.  As I type this out, he is entered for this Saturday, which takes some sting off.  I’m ready to see him race again and as much as I will try to set my expectations in the right place, I won’t be able to do it.  The good news is that he has a lifetime win percentage of about 35%.  If I was wrong last time, odds are I’ll be right this time.

Let’s go Mo!

Friday, May 29, 2015

"Working Retirement" Nearly Becomes Retirement (Again)

After spending 13 hours in the car together driving from Atlanta to Madison on May 9th and 10th, you might think that Danny and I would run out of things to talk about.  This would be especially true as we hopped in the car to head down to Maywood Park on May 15th to watch In Over My Head make his second start of the season.  We didn't.  Not even close.  It even took until Rockford to revisit the often discussed "Top 5 Maywood Park Experiences" list.  Given the giant uncertainty surrounding Maywood Park (and Chicago racing in general), we spent extra time analyzing the memories.  Not just the wins, but the regular nights that turned out to be great.  Little did we know that we were driving head on into a new top 5 experience....

In recent years, Mo hasn't raced much at Maywood Park.  The extra turns on the half mile are a bit tougher on his old legs and Maywood hasn't written an Invite in a number of years.  I the past, Mo might get a start (or two) at Maywood and then it was off to Balmoral.  I've always loved Maywood Park and after moving back to Wisconsin after three years down south, I wasn't' going to miss this race.

We headed straight to the barn to see the star of the show, who I hadn't seen since a trip home last July.  Same old Mo.  Draw a picture of a perfect harness horse, hold the picture next to Mo and you'll be looking at the same animal.  He had a normal pre race game face on (sleepy) so we let him be and headed to the buffet.

Anyone that knows Chicago racing knows that is has fallen on hard times.  To be more specific, the hard times started years ago.  At this point the hard times are reaching very sad levels.  As we sat down, the clubhouse had the same look it did the first time I saw it over fifteen years ago when we watched my brother Kirk's filly Patricia Per win a nw2 and we stormed the winners circle like we just won the Derby.  The place was worn, but still strangely proud and had a feel that it was going to battle to the bitter end.  You hear people say it's just an old dump and that it should be torn down.  Maybe it is, but it's my old dump and I still love watching races there.  Maybe some of it just nostalgia, but I pray it survives.

Time flies when you are having fun and the night went by fast for Danny and I.  We paid our bill and headed outside to watch the race.  Living in Atlanta for the last three years, I haven't been to many races.  I've said this before and I will say it again, there is nothing...NOTHING...like watching your horse race live. After spending all week brazenly looking at the program and proclaiming that no opponent has a sliver of a chance of beating Mo, it all changes in the minutes before the race.  All that confidence...shattered.

What if he's sick...this is only his second start, he won't be ready...those other horses are far better than I gave them credit for...they look sharp tonight...is Mo lame (he looks half lame every time he warms up and has been that way his entire career)...did you hear that?  What if that noise spooked him...what the...why is Casey out of the bike?  

I thought Danny was joking with that one, but sure enough, Casey was standing on the track holding the lines while Mo stood motionless.  At that point, it wasn't IF he was hurt.  The only question was how bad.  We stood there in silence expecting the worst.  Then, Casey hopped back in the bike and off they went (he was adjusting his new harness).

The race was its normal thrill.  I admittedly spent about 20% of the time looking down at the ground because I couldn't bear to watch...keep in mind this was about his 90th start and we were racing for $7,100.  This was not really a race to be nervous about.  It unfolded like we expected back in our early week analysis...he made his move at the half, drew even in the last turn and put them away in the stretch.  My heart is racing now two weeks later just thinking about it.

I was fortunate enough to be at the Final Four this year when Wisconsin beat Kentucky.  I love Wisconsin basketball and everything about it.  That was probably the best sporting event I've ever been to.  That Friday night at Maywood was better.  I'm not kidding.  I wish I could bottle that feeling up and share it with others...I try, but it just tends to fall on deaf ears.  If it didn't, there would be a stampede of people trying to purchase race horses.

You can only get so close to your favorite sports team, but it is never "yours".   "Yours" only applies to current coaches, players, trainers, staff, etc who are putting on the show.  You can feel a deep connection when you grow up 20 minutes from campus, spend your youth going to the current coach's basketball camps, get your degree from the university, try out for the team as a senior and later watch some players you've coached in high school play for your school.  That's my relationship to Wisconsin basketball.  That's pretty deep....probably deeper than a lot of fans.  It doesn't hold a candle to the connection you feel to a horse that you've owned his whole life that has taken you on the ride of a lifetime with family and friends in tow.  That is my (and our) connection with Mo.  

And now, let me talk for a second about the title of this post.  Two days after the race, Mo's leg blew up.  We didn't know why, but we were worried...very worried.  As the days went by the swelling lingered.  It was in a bad spot on his left front leg (his "good" leg for those keeping score).  Then, he took a turn for the better.  Swelling was gone.  They tried jogging him and he jogged sound.  Finally, we get a text on Wednesday:  "I entered Mo for Saturday.  Vet couldn't find anything wrong with him."

Yep, that sounds about right.  

Forward we march....hope it never ends.

Let's go Mo!


Overview

Many people have asked me what it's like to own a racehorse. This blog is a play by play of one horse in particular. A three year old colt named In Over My Head that I own with my uncle...and although he doesn't have any dollars invested, my cousin is about as emotionally invested as humanly possible. It could end up being a story of success or failure, but if he's like all the others I've owned, it will no doubt be a roller coaster ride.