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!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2014 and into 2015

No one wants to read a blog with no new content.  I haven't had any new content here for months. That's the bad news.  The good news?

In Over My Head will be coming back for the 2015 racing season.

My last post back in September mentioned the bone bruise Mo suffered after an equipment break and a subsequent gutty victory a few weeks later.  Now that we have the benefit of hindsight, I can tell you that what Mo did at the end of last season was even more impressive than we originally thought.  He didn't go on a win streak, but he showed us once again he is made of hearty stock.  The injury he suffered from that equipment break lingered, eventually got worse and he somehow managed to hide it from us for the most part....at least until his last start in the late fall.

His last start wasn't suppose to be his last start...we planned on going into December with him.  Up until that point, he was like that old boxer who was despite a laundry list of issues finds a way to pop up from that little stool in the corner of the ring when he hears the bell and after a vicious 12 round fight he takes off his gloves and heads home.  He shows up at the gym the next morning and goes back to work, much to the astonishment of almost everyone around him.

That was Mo...until that last start.

Danny was at the track that night and for the first time in what was an incredible season for an old battle worn eight year old, he showed his age.  His personality was muted.  He made it from the bath stall and back, but did so with less spring than normal.  He was worn out.  We all put our heads together the next day and took about 5 seconds to decide to quit for the year.  The thing is, when you quit for the year with an eight year old, you may be quitting for good.   You just can't predict how they will come out of the time off in the winter.  As always, we were going to let Mo tell us if he wanted to put on the horseshoes and jump back into the fray.

While we are still only in February, I'm happy to report that after a couple months of being turned out, Mo got bored.  Greg can attest to what it is like when Mo gets bored.  He spent a couple off- seasons up in Mineral Point and for awhile he loves the life of no equipment, no training miles, no schedule other than to walk out into the field in the morning and run around for awhile.  In the past that was good for about two months.  Then he got bored.  He'd start to get more studdy, be a little less attentive and just generally hard to handle.  That was his way of saying, enough vacation...let's get back to work.  It worked out the same way this off-season.

Mo went back to work a couple weeks ago.  Starting easy...in the swimming pool, but the fact that he's ready to get back to the grind tells me that there are more than a few races left in the old boy.  And why not?  We can limit his schedule, pick our spots and quit at any time.  As you've learned in this post (and many more if you've followed this six year marathon), Mo has some pretty good communication skills.  He will let us know when it is time to stop.

I don't think he will ever let injury end his career...barring something major...he will just fight though it.  Eventually, what will give will be his will to go through the grind of being a racehorse, but we aren't there yet.  His spirit still burns as bright as ever.  Even though he has some challenging days ahead of him to get back into race shape in the twilight of his career, the reward of walking into the winners circle at the end of a tough race is too much to pass up.  He may be old, but he's not done yet.

More to come.  Let's go Mo!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lamb Chops


I was asked the other day why I haven't put up a blog post in awhile.  In Over My Head was racing consistently all summer long....didn't I plenty of stories to tell?  Actually, I really didn't.  The five + year history of this story has really written itself and for once I was stuck.  It wasn't until a discussion of lamb chops did I get the urge to get our the computer and start typing.

In Over My Head's races this summer has been pretty normal.  I don't mean Mo normal (which is the opposite of normal).  I mean normal like most very good horses  He finished in the top three in each of his first ten starts.  They were all exciting and usually involved Mo charging down the stretch and passing most (or all) of his fellow competitors.  Outside of a fun trip down to Balmoral with Danny when we were back in Wisconsin over the 4th of July, I didn't have too much to write about.  Normal doesn't help create interesting blog posts.

That's all started to change.

Three starts ago In Over My Head was in prime position to pick up his second Invitation win of the season when he had some equipment break.  Instead of charging to the finish line he was taken off the track and received the first DNF (Did Not Finish) of his career.  Because of the equipment break, he had to pull up and suffered a bone bruise.  Over vet described it to us as taking a guitar string, pulling it back and letting it snap down on the frame.  Mo's tendon was the string and his bone was the frame.  He wasn't able to strum a tune for five weeks.

His first start off that minor injury was typical Mo  Even though he wasn't not in 100% racing shape, he charged home in the slop and posted a last quarter a full second better than the rest of his competition.  He couldn't quite get to the winner, but finished a strong second. Things were getting back to normal...or so we thought.

On Saturday September 13th, Mo faced a field similar to the one he nearly mowed down two weeks before.  At the 3/4 pole, that exactly what I thought he would do...instead, he faded to ninth in what was one of the most uncharacteristic races of his career.   Luckily, Danny was at the track to check on him.  What happened explained the flat effort...he had cut off his airway.  This is not all that uncommon in horse racing.  Mo basically displaced a flap (for lack of a better word) in his throat and cut off his wind.  Luckily, this was treatable and the plan was to just enter him the next week.

That takes us to last night.

Mo had dropped down in class.  The pre race analysis at Balmoral said it best, "If In Over My Head races like his last start, he's vulnerable.  If he races like any of his starts before, he thrashes this field."

We were expecting a thrashing.  What we got was a win...but not a thrashing.  He won in by about neck after making his usual charge down the lane.  When I saw the race lines, it showed a last quarter of about 27 seconds.  We'd be happy with that kind of time for Don't Tell Wayne, but Mo...hmmm...something didn't feel quite right.

Luckily, Danny was at the track (a reoccurring part of the story) and he he sensed something wasn't quite right either.  He told the vet to scope him (check for sickness, bleeding or other issues in his airway/ lungs).  After a win and a solid stretch drive, why scope him?  Danny said it was a gut feeling...and he was right.  After getting checked by the vet, it turns out that In Over My Head had other issues in his airway on Saturday night.  It was probably related to what happened the week before.  It was not exactly the same situation and not as serious of the week before, but enough to knock most horses out.  Mo is not most horses...he won anyway.

I'm not sure I can stress this enough, but what he did last night was nothing short of incredible.  Yes, he beat a field of less than stellar horses, but to do so with limited air is a rare thing to see.  Think of going out to run a race with bronchitis.  That's about the best comparison I can give you.  Running through that can be done...but it takes a second level of toughness.  Something Mo has plenty of.

Back to the lamb chops.  Laura and I were walking home from a friend's house after the race.  It was late, but it hit me that I had to make good on my post Mo win ritual:  to open a bottle of La Crema and toast to victory.  Given the fact it was late, I said that maybe we could wait until tomorrow.  Laura responded that she already opened that bottle that night.  They used it in the lamb chop marinade.  La Crema in a lamb chop recipe???  That's kind of a bold move.  Laura's response:  I knew he was going to win, so I opened it.

This coming from the same person who once said we were going to be headed to the winners circle one night at Maywood Park.  The same night we were at odds of 55-1...the same night we won the Windy City Pace.  All I can say that is that I hope Laura sees a few more wins in the future.  If she does, we better stock up on La Crema because we will certainly be uncorking a few bottles.

Given the recent issues, Mo will take a week off.  That should be all he needs to get right.  Look for him at Balmoral on October 4th.

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.