(My best friend…my wife — Leigh Ann)

Editor’s Note:

As you may have noticed of late, I have been slowly integrating a new feature into these pages, and over my social media platforms. I am calling it the “Thought of the Day.”

I hope to offer a reiteration on most, if not all, days.

I hope.

But on Sunday, I hope to have a positive and happy “Thought of the Day,” to share with you all. And, hopefully, it will be tied to the greatest sport of all time — the love of Thoroughbred horse racing.

Today, to kick off my first Sunday “Thought,” I, er, thought I would share with you some, er, thoughts about my best friend — my beautiful wife, Leigh Ann.

On our wedding day, which occurred in Mendoza, Argentina, I looked at her standing in the middle of the grapevines and one of the most beautiful places on God’s green Earth — the Cavas Wine Lodge — I took her hands in mine and said:

“Leigh, when I found you, I found me.”

I meant those words then with all my heart.

Today, I mean those words even more.

And, I will tell you why in a very simple way.

Leigh Ann Sears is the nicest; kindest; most giving and forgiving; most patient; and most beautiful person on both the inside and out who I have ever had the privilege to meet.

In this case, she is the most remarkable person who I have ever had the chance to be with and love. Forever. Unconditionally.

We have had a remarkable time together and have visited so many remarkable places, creating so many remarkable memories.

Iceland. Argentina. Nearly every island in the entire Caribbean. Napa Valley. And a lot of places in-between.

But the place where I think I have enjoyed our most memorable days and nights are at the racetrack — wherever it may be.

Over the past years together, I have dragged Leigh Ann to more racetracks than I can even remember or count. I know we have been to Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Turfway Park, Ellis Park, Horseshoe Indianapolis, the Fair Grounds, Saratoga, Tampa Bay Downs, Santa Anita, Del Mar, Oaklawn Park, and, of course, our most beloved Churchill Downs.

Most of the time, we have visited these same tracks multiple of times. We have been to Kentucky Derbies and to other venues to watch our horses run in claiming races. We have been to Santa Anita to watch our filly, Purim’s Dancer, win the Wishing Well Stakes down “The Hill.” We have been to Churchill Downs to watch our filly, Miss Jacqueline, win her first race ever and give us our first win ever at our favorite track.

The thing is this. If not for me, Leigh Ann probably would not go to the racetrack much. She just wouldn’t. It just isn’t on the top of her “To Do” list.

Oh, she loves watching the horses. She loves going to the backside and she loves feeding our horses carrots and peppermints. She loves getting close enough to pet Diamond Solitaire on the head and blow her good-luck kisses.

And, oh, she loves getting dressed up for the big occasions. She has a room (or two) totally dedicated to her Derby hats and matching outfits. And, she will tell you that she loves it when someone tells her how much they love her hats, dresses, shoes, purses and any other high fashion accessories.

But, for all of that, she doesn’t love betting or, for that matter, understand and appreciate the time that it takes to handicap or why there is 25 minutes (up to an hour on Derby Day) in-between races. She has figured out, though, that it is a good time for a sip or two of champagne.

Yet, like most things in her life, she sacrifices for the happiness of others. In this case the “other” is me.

She knows I love the horses. And, I love the races. And, I love, love, love the challenges of handicapping. And, I love to wager against all the other would-be experts out there in the pari-mutuel world of picking a winner.

And, for those reasons, she loves going with me. She makes my day by going with me. She makes me smile inside and out by being with me. I love her so much for being there, beside me.

She was there when we won the Wishing Well Stakes, and she rooted and yelled like it was nobody’s business.

She was there when Miss Jacqueline ran off to win her first and only race by over 6 lengths at Churchill Downs. She rooted and yelled like it was nobody’s business.

She was there when Diamond Solitaire won her first race and most of all the others. She rooted and yelled like it was nobody’s business.

Why she loves me? I have no idea. Truthfully, it is nobody’s business.

But I am so glad she does. I am the lucky’s guy at the racetrack, even if I never cash a ticket, because she does.

I am a huge fan of the late, great Don Williams — one of Country Music’s greatest artists. He was known around Nashville as the “Gentle Giant,” because of his height. Although he didn’t really like the moniker, his voice is so gentle and he will forever more be a giant in the industry.

He had a song named “My Best Friend.” A part of it went like this:

“When I need hope and inspirationYou’re always strong when I’m tired and weakI could search this whole world overYou’d still be everythin’ that I need
“You’re my bread when I’m hungryYou’re my shelter from troubled windsYou’re my anchor in life’s oceanBut most of all, you’re my best friend”
When it comes to Leigh Ann, she is all that to be. I just wish I could sing it to her like Don Williams.
If I could, I would.
But since I can’t? I will live out our life together as if it is my song to her.
That’s my thought on this Sun Day.