(Diamond Solitaire in the paddock at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino this past Wednesday. We are back. We are racing. We are having so much fun. It is racing as it was and is meant to be.)
There is absolutely nothing on this Earth that beats “Race Day.”
Especially when you own part of a very special filly by the name of Diamond Solitaire.
Especially when you are partners with such a great group of people that you miss — so badly — during the winter “down time,” and you can’t wait to see again when the tulips start to sneak their nose above the frozen ground and stare face first into the sunlight of Spring.
Especially when you get up and drive like a maniac to the grand Indiana Grand Racing & Casino facility in Shelbyville, IN. — and one of the greatest secrets in the entire horse racing world. The place is truly a showplace, full of friends and fun.
Especially when you see one of the most ominous clouds waiting just ahead, and you wonder exactly what it may be packing in its’ belly.
Especially when you get close enough to see — and feel — the chill of a late April snowstorm that reminds you more of Santa Claus than sunshine and sun tans. It was Blizzard time, and we didn’t even get to go to DQ.
Especially when you get to your seat, hours ahead of your scheduled race, and the butterflies are kicking butt in your stomach and visions of grandeur are dancing in your head like the great Elvis Presley at showtime.
Especially when some of the greatest horses of our time are preparing for the 147th Kentucky Derby, and you are preparing for one of the greatest times of your life.
It is like watching your 5-year-old ride their bicycle over that hill and into the horizon for the very first time. Anxious. Proud. Exciting. Thrilling. Yet, so nerve-wracking and fearing. What to expect? Only time will tell.
It is like watching your little daughter go out to the gymnastics mat for the very first time, and catching her nervous eye as she approaches her first floor routine on her own. You know she can do this. She knows that she can do this. But you both are wondering the same thing. Will she do this?
It is like watching your son stand at the foul line with just a couple of seconds left on the scoreboard clock and with his team down by a single point. The crowd cheering for failure. Your heart cheering for success. Your son, on his own, readying to cast his lot.
It is like watching your girl lead her cheerleading squad onto the floor for their dance routine. And, watching her absolutely crush it. You sit and cheer; you squirm and jump a little inside; you can’t believe that it takes all day to wait for the watch and you can’t believe it is all over in the matter of a couple of minutes. And, then you are left exhausted from both the wait and the performance.
It is a little bit pride, and a whole lot of nervous energy mixed with a dash of fear and a cube of anticipation.
It is the perfect drink that makes you intoxicated with love and leaves you with a hang-over of joy.
The horse is your baby, just like your son and your daughter. And, when they look at you right square in the eye?
You swell up. You want them to know how proud of them you truly are, and, at the same time, you want them to know that you are there to support them with everything that you have.
On Wednesday, Diamond Solitaire — our beautiful little filly, who had the most difficult of life starts — made her way to Indiana Grand for her first start of 2021. She had a successful 2YO campaign. She broke her maiden by 10 lengths and she was Stakes-placed. Not bad for a filly born in late May that it was almost June. Not bad for a filly who had to grow up without her birth mom, who died within a few days of her birth after a severe bout of colic. Not bad for an orphan who teamed up with a nurse mare just to overcome a broken leg that she sustained from her stricken mother on the way to the clinic.
But this was the day of her 3YO debut. High hopes. Big expectations.
We wanted more for her.
We wanted more for us.
And, we were not disappointed. After a wide run throughout the 1-mile race, Diamond Solitaire made her patented run in the last turn and got up to be 2nd. She could not run down the winner, who got the jump on her in the final 1/8th of a mile. But she did ring up her cheering friends and family.
We all stood right there against the rail.
We all stood there cheering.
We all stood there hoping.
We all stood there together wishing.
And, as soon as it was over, we all stood there together. Happy with her performance. Happy with her. Happy to be back on “Race Day.”
It was a big reminder to us all.
This is exactly why we all want to own a racehorse.
Especially one as special as Diamond Solitaire.
Especially one as beautiful — inside and out — as Diamond Solitaire.
Especially one as determined to please as Diamond Solitaire — the filly with the single diamond stamped right on her forehead.
Especially for this loving family of friends and filly.