Why Own a Racehorse? Because Even When They Lose, Sometimes, They Still Make You Proud

(Seek N Justice on Sunday. All photos by Buff Bradley)

Our homebred, Seek N Justice, got his first career start on Sunday at the Fair Grounds. We didn’t win. But, to be very honest, I am not disappointed. Not at all. Not any. Not a lick.

We didn’t win, but I think we found a winner.

When I took my first glimpse at the past performances at this group late last week, I thought it may take an “Act of God” for us to beat this field assembled in Race #7 in New Orleans. On paper, it certainly looked a lot tougher than most fields that you see in a $15,000 Maiden-Claimer. On dirt Sunday, it played out that way, too.

After the scratch of the #10, there were nine of us left to fill the starting gate for the 6-furlong matchup. If you look at my handicapping numbers, I quickly pointed out that the two best horses in the field appeared to be Jazz It Up — a 3YO son of Speightstown who had raced five times already — and Fair Shot — a 3YO son of Trappe Shot who was making his fifth career start and the second for the top barn of Tom Amoss after he claimed this one two back.

Fair Shot had already been second and third in two of his previous races. And, Jazz It Up — trained by the meet’s top trainer in Brad Cox — had already run two thirds and a second for his owner-breeder Zayat Stables. They figured to be the ones to beat. They figured to be tough to beat. And, at the end, they proved impossible to beat.

Seek N Justice — on the other hand — was one of only two horses in the field that was making his career debut. And, we are a June foal.

At the wire, the other first time starter in the field, Locket Box, was just in front of us. Locket Box was 6th. We were 7th and we beat two horses.

But like I previous wrote, I am not disappointed.

Seek N Justice broke well and sharp and was not shy about competing. He pinned those ears and went after them. Right off the bat.

And, he settled very nicely into third place as the field tore for and through the first quarter in a fast time of :22.46. That’s about 2 seconds faster than we have ever worked before. And, it was a first quarter time that many better horses can’t even duplicate.  And, the rest of the fractions of :46.55, :58.79 and the final time of 1:1.69 were both fast and impressive. Especially when you consider that time was a MCL $15,000 event.

Seek N Justice ran straight as an arrow, going exactly where rider Ty Kennedy wanted him to be. And, that’s not an easy thing to do when you are racing for the first time and against much-more experienced runners.

And, Seek N Justice never quit. From start to finish. He never quit running. He never quit trying. He never quit.

May sound like a proud parent making excuses. May sound like I am trying to find rainbows in a stormy cloud.

Guess I can be accused of such.

But I think my boy is going to be OK. I think he will improve. I think he will try. And, I think I will be right there when he does.

After the race, our trainer Buff Bradley immediately called. His voice was good and strong. His words encouraging and positive. He relayed the thoughts of our rider, and he injected some opinion and thoughts.

“I think he ran OK. He broke well. He was straight as could be. And, he tried hard. May have gotten a bit tired, but really that is to be expected. He was fit, but there’s nothing like running in a race. This was tighten him up some,” said Buff. “I think he will be OK.”

I think he will be OK, too.

Seek N Justice may not have won the race on Sunday.

But he did win my respect.

He did win my approval, and pat on the rear.

And, his fight won my heart.

Then, the thought dawned on me. Have I ever had a horse that won his or her first start? Ever?

I couldn’t remember of a single one, and we have had some good ones. Some Stakes winners.

Then a “Sunday Smile” crossed my face.

We will live to fight another day. We will live to run another race.



I was absolutely dancing into the Winner’s Circle. It was so exciting and Joel has been like one of my kids ever since he came from Bay Meadows. We tease each other a lot. We greet each other by grunting and everybody looks at us like, ‘what’s that all about’ but we’ve been doing it for years. So it’s wonderful to win with him. The owners are great people that really deserve something like this.

“This horse seems like he’s more adept at seven furlongs to a mile so I’m not sure he wants a mile and a quarter …

“I could tell my horse had won, but I was so excited in the stretch I thought I was gonna pass out.

“We are very happy with the way our horse had trained for this race, but it’s always scary when you get a look at those Baffert ‘Maseratis’, it pretty much unfolded the way we had hoped.

“The people that own this horse, they’ve got this colt a seven furlong-miler type maybe time will tell differently, but the other colt they are focusing on him going the two turns.”

  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean