(Miss Jacqueline this week)

Can I go ahead and say this out loud? Please?

I hate 2020. With a passion.

Can’t stand it.

Can’t stomach it.

Wish it would get over with as fast as Serengeti Empress can cover the first quarter mile.

But, for some damn reason, it just won’t end.

Covid-19? For some reason, government officials mask the facts while some refuse to wear masks. Both sides at fault. Won’t end.

Presidential debacle and TV commercials that will ruin your nightly dinner time if you leave the tube blinking? OMG, what has our world come to when our main reason for being elected is that our opponent is worse? Won’t end.

The divide of hatred that tears at the cloth of our flag, country and our individual souls? Doesn’t seem to be subsiding. Won’t end.

Ugly words and deeds have replaced civility and kindness, or so it seems. Won’t end.

Discrimination of all sorts — both racial and economical and both that should have been resolved so many years ago — continue to be awful reminders that we are not nearly as good and advanced as we sometimes like to think we are. Tensions won’t end. Not until we all promise to be better.

2020 just won’t give up. It won’t give in. It won’t give us a break.

Will it ever end?

I told someone just the other day that if I see a horde of locust coming up over the hill, then I know that these must be the end of days.

In other words?

2020 sucks.

And, if all that is not enough to make me want to find a boat in Key West and join both Jimmy Buffet and Ernest Hemmingway in the pursuit of the “big fish?”

Guess what?

In addition to all the crap that we have had to deal with — and you can make a laundry list that would cover the entire state of Rhode Island by now — I just found out a week or so ago that our 3YO filly, Miss Jacqueline, will race no more.

After her last race at Churchill Downs — when she broke poorly and was nearly last for the first part of the race before she gutted out a remarkable 5th considering the circumstances — we discovered that she was favoring her left front shin the following day.

Our trainer, Stephen Lyster, immediately began treatment and the veterinarians were called in to perform an x-ray. The pictures were not fully conclusive. So, the team of Stephen and his grooms did everything to make her feel comfortable and happy.

They hosed her leg with cold water.

They rubbed a medical poultice on her leg and wrapped it with love.

They babied. They treated. They tried.

But late last week, we did another x-ray and discovered that she has sustained a small, hairline fracture in that cannon bone. A screw was inserted to help with the healing for her. A dagger was inserted in my heart and helped with my pain.

You see, Miss Jacqueline is a filly that I raised from scratch. Her mother was a mare that I raced. This was her second foal. I was there the night of her birth. And, I have been a regular visitor ever since.

I saw her grow from a baby to a weanling. I loved her prance through the snow. She was always a spunky one.

I saw her grow from a weanling to a yearling. I loved to watch her go through her first lessons under saddle.

And, I saw her grown from a yearling to a 2YO, with so much promise. Do you know how much I loved watching her win her first career start at Churchill Downs by nearly 6 lengths?

We stood on the apron and watched her gallop off. Stride for stride. Fury in motion. My friends jumping for you. Our first victory over the hallowed grounds of the greatest racetrack ever built.

Heart meet stomach. Eyes meet rain. Earth meet heaven.

She was one for one.

Plans were made.

Dreams were created.

More was to come.

Yet, more joy never did come.

Miss Jacqueline fought off one issue after another. One malady came. Only to be replaced by another. Still, she fought on. She tried. So tried so very hard to please.

We finally got her back to the races about a month ago. For the first time in nearly a year. But, as fate would have it, her return was to be her last.

This Saturday, Miss Jacqueline will board a van and head off to a more quieter life. Stephen has found her a perfect retirement home in Michigan. Once her leg completely heals, she will be taught to canter. She will be converted to a riding horse.

I have no doubts that Miss Jacqueline will be good at it.

She has a heart of gold. She has a mind, just as good.

She is a sweet heart.

Nearly every time I would go to see and pay her a visit, Miss J would rush to the webbing of the stall. She would lay her head over my shoulder. She would nuzzle my neck. She would smell my hair. It was as close to a hug as a Thoroughbred can get.

I will miss those days and times. I will miss her, to be sure. To look in her stall and see an empty canvas will never be easy.

She is a sweet heart.

One that blessed my heart. In so many ways. She gave love freely, and without hesitation or limitation. She gave her best to be her best. She gave me our first win at Churchill Downs. In style. She just gave. All.

Now, she will leave me with a bit of a broken one, too. I looked forward to so much more. I looked forward to so many more good times. I looked forward to wins and grins; celebrations and fun. In style.

Why do I own a racehorse?

Sometimes I wonder that very question, too.

I wonder if the thrills ever are good enough to replace the chills.

I wonder if the heart pounds are ever good enough to replace the heart aches.

I wonder.

Then, I look into her eyes, and I know the real answer.

No matter the record, and no matter the struggles? We are friends. We are family. And, I have my answer.

No matter where Miss Jacqueline goes, a piece of me will go with her. And, vice versa.

And that, my friends, is why I own a racehorse.

Even in this crazy ass year.

Miss Jacqueline Through the Years: