Why Own a Racehorse?: It’s Days Like Sunday / Seek N Justice Makes Career Debut

(Seek N Justice will get his first start on Sunday. Wish us luck. We will need it. / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

The jitterbugs have already begun. Butterflies skirting to a jazzy version of Bourbon Street blues have already set it. “Anticipation” was a song sung best by Carly Simon, but made for a day like today. And, tomorrow.

As she sang, so wonderfully and accurately:

“Anticipation, anticipation…
“Is makin’ me late…
“Is keepin’ me waitin’.”

On Sunday, Seek N Justice — our 3-year-old colt by Caleb’s Posse and out of our ill-fated filly and mare Diamond Seeker — will get his first chance to strut his stuff in an actual race.

Oh, now don’t get me wrong. It’s a far cry from the Pegasus World Cup, being held at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. It’s a far cry from any headline grabbing news that will turn the Thoroughbred racing and breeding world on its’ collective head. It’s a far cry from newsworthy.

Except to me, and my friends and co-owners Tina Halpain and Jace Barbin, and my great friend, and trainer Buff Bradley. What Buff has done for this colt is nothing short of amazing. Then again, that’s the kind of man Buff Bradley is. He is a Horse-man.

On Sunday, Seek N Justice will be saddled by Buff in a $15,000 Maiden Claiming Event at the Fair Grounds. The race will go 6 furlongs. And, the race will go off at approximately 4:23 p.m. ET.

Not the Pegasus World Cup. Not a Stakes event. Not even a Maiden Special Weight event.

But to us?

Well, to us, it is like the first day of school for your 6-year-old. Watching that toddler climb on that yellow elephant bus for the first time. Watching your pride and joy disappear into the early morning haze. Exciting? More anxious.

To us?

It is like sitting in that front row of the school auditorium and waiting for that curtain to raise. Quickly, you search for your child in a maze of “Where’s Waldo?” Until you locate them. Until you get that camera zoomed in just right. Until you suddenly realize that you are far more nervous and skittish than they are, as they embark on the next step of life. Thrilling? More proud.

To us?

It is like cramming into that high school gymnasium and waiting patiently for all those 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds to enter the back, dressed in all black gap and gowns. Tassels laid to one side. Future laid out in front of them. So grown up, and every where to go. Amazing? More like, “Where in the hell did the time go?”

On Sunday, Seek N Justice will get to race for the first time. Don’t know how he will do, truthfully. He is not the biggest colt in the world. His mom wasn’t either, and he is a June foal, after all. But I do know that the little guy is smart. And, he is gutty. And, most of all, that he will try.

On Sunday, Seek N Justice will face a field of nine others. And, to be honest, it is a salty group for this level.

Brad Cox, who seems to have a horse in every race, has one in here. Has run 5 times before and has a third and a second here at the level. Tom Amoss, one of the best guys in the world and a super trainer, has one in here that he claimed for Super Owner Maggi Moss two starts back. he ran second at this level in that one. Jeff Engler has one dropping down from $30,000 to this level.

Wow.

Tough act.

But it is curtain time.

It is like watching your daughter perform at Rupp Arena in her first public gymnastics meet. You know she knows her routine. You know she can land that hand stand. You’ve seen her do it time after time. You know when she looks up at you, with those doubting eyes, that this is going to be a test.

It is like watching your son stand at the free throw line with just a few seconds left in the tournament championship, and his team trailing by a single point. He’s a 5th grader playing against 6th & 7th graders. And, his team is behind for the first time all season long. The gym, for some damn reason, is packed. And, every person in the world is stomping their feet and yelling. You know when he looks up at you with those doubting eyes, that this is going to be a test.

Alex, my beautiful little girl, didn’t do her back hand stand that day at Rupp. Froze up. Refused. Dwelt at the starting gate. She was head strong then, and is even more so today. Just took her awhile to find her stride. But it didn’t matter. She went on to be one of the best cheerleaders in the Commonwealth, and had chances to go perform in college. She was amazing, and still is today.

Brad, my talented son, nailed those two damn free throws. Nothing but net. Even the coach for the opposing team clapped for him. His teammates, all older, lifted him up. But it didn’t really matter. He went on to be all-state in soccer, and all-district in both baseball and basketball his senior year. He was amazing, and still is today.

True stories, both.

Don’t know if Seek N Justice will pull an “Alex” or a “Brad” on Sunday. But it doesn’t matter. We will be off and running. And, I’ve got a feeling that the “little man” will be just fine — at whatever level he finds.

We lost Seek N Justice’s mother this spring. After delivering her third foal, a filly by Majestic Harbor, she suffered a severe bout of colic. Had to be euthanized.

I had drawn quite fond of that filly. She raced at the Fair Grounds. In her first start, she ran her little heart out and was right in the hunt until the 1/8th pole. Lost to a filly that went on to win a Graded Stakes race at Keeneland last Fall and then ran in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. In her second start, Diamond Seeker sustained a career-ending knee injury.

Don’t know why, but I kept that filly. Bred her. Seek N Justice is her first foal. Don’t know what to expect on Sunday. But I hope he makes his mom proud.

Just like my kids did for me.

“Anticipation, anticipation…
“Is makin’ me late…
“Is keepin’ me waitin’…”

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • 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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