Why Own a Racehorse: Because Who Else Would You Send to New Orleans for the Winter, While You are Stuck in the Cold?

(As the sun tried like all heck to burn off the cool morning fog, Seek N Justice waited to take his turn on the Churchill Downs track this morning and look into the future / Photo by Gene McLean)

It was a bit chilly when I arrived at the Churchill Downs’ backside early on Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving. The full moon was still burning bright and was reluctant to go home. The full sun was trying its’ best to tug up in the Eastern sky, but it was making a reluctant appearance. The steady parade of horses to the racetrack had not yet begun.

It was a beautiful morn, that was anything but warm, but everything that was warming.

And, standing stoically in his stall at the barn of one Buff Bradley, was our 2-year-old colt Seek N Justice.

His blue blanket covered the fact that he has already been saddled, tacked up, and was ready to make his morning exercise around the world’s most famous racetrack. His head was hung low, and his eyes still filled with sleep. His calm demeanor was just as cool as the air that hung over the day.

“What are you going to do when we head off to New Orleans on Monday,” asked one of the cold “hot walkers” that makes his employ at the Buff Bradley barn. “He gets to go South. You have to stay here?”

(Seek N Justice readies for the track on Friday morning, eyes and all / Photo by Gene McLean)

It was a heckuva question, although both he and I already knew the answer to that query.

Still, the question causes one to pause. And, it makes one think what is wrong with that equation, right? Makes one wonder why the world is truly turned upside down. Makes one question about who really is the “boss,” doesn’t it?

After all, I love New Orleans.

After all, I love the warm weather over what we have now, and will have worse in the coming months.

After all, I love Mardi Gras; jazz music; barbecue shrimp, and Cajuns.

After all, I would love to go to the Bayou for the winter.

But?

Oh, I’ll be staying here.

Seek N Justice will be heading there.

Such is life.

Such is my life.

And, such is Seek N Justice’s soon-to-be-life.

On Monday morn, bright and early, Seek N Justice will join his roommates and get on a horse van and head South for the winter. All the way to New Orleans. All the way to his new winter dormitory room at The Fair Grounds. All the way to fun in the sun.

He will continue his morning practices, and schooling — in sunny New Orleans. He will get in his leg work, and conditioning — in wonderful New Orleans. And, hopefully, sometime in late January, he may make his racetrack debut in the afternoon — in the marvelous New Orleans.

All the while, I will stay here — in the dreary Kentucky winter weather. Work a little. Worry a lot. And, wonder even more. How things are going? How Seek N Justice is doing? How much is he growing, since he is a June foal?How much is he improving? How long will it be before he can race? How good can he race?

I never did send my children off to boarding school when they were youngsters. Couldn’t even muster up the courage to send them away for a summer camp. Just  couldn’t stand the thought of them being gone that long.

But, I guess, this has to be something akin to that feeling. On Monday, Seek N Justice and all his school buddies will take off. I will wish him and them well. And, I will wish I was going with them.

The question then rolled right back into my mind.

“What are you going to do when we head off to New Orleans on Monday,” asked one of the cold “hot walkers” that makes his employ at the Buff Bradley barn. “He gets to go South. You have to stay here?”

Then, the old (emphasis on “old”) steel trap began to thaw out, and grind into gear.

Maybe, I could convince Leigh that the boys needed me in New Orleans for a few days. Right?

Maybe I could convince the crew here in Kentucky that it would be best — really for all of us — if I took a few days for a little R&R in New Orleans. Seriously!

Maybe I could go down to Bourbon Street and the Fair Grounds, too?

After all, if the horse goes, the jack ass might as well go too, right?

I think so.

Get the roll-away ready, Buff. Here I come.

(Seek N Justice gets his “steam bath” after his morning workout on Friday / Photos by Gene McLean)

 

He ran a good race,” Lezcano said. “He broke well and we got the position we wanted. He’s a fighting horse. He was fighting with (Synchrony) the whole way but he didn’t see (Divisidero) go by outside”

Jose Lezcano, Rider of runner-up Revved Up
  • 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 ...

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