Why Own a Racehorse? Sometimes, I Don’t Even Know, But I Do

(Seek N Justice in the paddock before his race at the Fair Grounds on Saturday / Photo by Gene McLean)

What a day Saturday turned out to be.

What a day.

Went to watch our own Seek N Justice in the 6th race at the beautiful, warm and jammed pack Fair Grounds in jazzed-up New Orleans with a great degree of enthusiasm and interest.

After all, Seek N Justice — our 3YO son of Caleb’s Posse — was coming off a rather impressive outing in his last race here. Got off to a horrid start. Fell all the way to next-to-last in the 12-horse field. So far out of view that the cameras could not even find him. But as they went into and out of the one-turn sprint, rider James Graham seemingly found a gear that we didn’t even know the colt had.

He zoomed through the stretch, bobbing and weaving like Mohammad Ali in a Joe Frazier fight. Got up to be fourth. Got our spirits up, too.

Then, just the other day, Seek had his best workout.

As in?


Thought he was in for a big day.

Instead, we were in for big surprises.

Seek N Justice didn’t run very well. Disappointing, in fact.

But he was claimed out of the race by trainer Tom Amoss, a talented horseman in his own right. Shocking, in fact.

What a bittersweet moment. Or is it sweet bitter?

I owned this colt’s mom — Diamond Seeker. She could really run, but she busted up a knee in her second career start and never got a chance to show her running talent.

So, I bred the Sightseeing filly to the stallion Caleb’s Posse. And, I got a colt. Raised him from birth. And, watched him go from seedling to a racehorse.

So, there was and is attachment. Always was. Always will be. Heartstrings tugged.

Yet, I do know and realize that this is a business. Or, at the least, should be to some degree. And, I knew going in that the horse was “for sale.”

Yet, it never truly dawned on me that the chance of Seek being claimed would become a fact that he would be claimed.

(Seek N Justice in the paddock on Saturday / Photos by Gene McLean)

After the race, I stumbled down to the track, along with trainer Buff Bradley, in search of both the colt and his rider, Ty Kennedy. Seems as if Seek thought he would do most of his running after the wire. He galloped long and hard deep into the backstretch.

As we waited for the duo to reappear, here came Buff back towards me and not towards the horse.

He had news.

“He was bought,” Buff said.

I know he must have thought I was crazy, as I fumbled for words. Any words.

“What?” I muttered.

“He got claimed,” Buff said.

“What? He was claimed?”

I know. Hard concept to grasp. Right? Especially for a guy that graduated from college with honors, right?

“Yep. Someone took him.”

“Who,” I asked.

“Let’s go find out,” Buff said.

So, we hoofed it towards the paddock. Sure enough, it was Tom Amoss’ assistant waiting in the stall.

We spoke. Exchanged some handshakes and well-wishes. Gave a little report. And, then and there, bade farewell.

It was not a long good-bye. It was just good bye.

The claiming price today was both fair and just. And, the colt is now going to a good home.

Heart strings tugged. Purse strings lifted.

A few minutes later, I chatted with Tom Amoss, Seek’s new trainer, over text message. Tom didn’t realize the horse was mine. Seek ran under my full name of “Warren Gene McLean.”

Tom was quick to apologize.

I reassured Tom that there were no ill feelings. Tom Amoss is a class act. Has some of the best horses in the world under his care and watch.

Horses like Serengeti Empress — who may be the best 3YO filly in the land.

Horses like Roiland — who may be a sleeper for this year’s Louisiana Derby.

Horses like Lone Sailor, and others.

I told Tom good luck. And, since I still own two half-sisters to Seek, I sure hope that the two of them go on to win a Stakes race or more.

So, Seek is headed to a new home tonight.

So, I am headed home tomorrow.

Paid off a few bills. Now the stable is a horse lighter.

Not the day I imagined. But that is exactly the kind of day you can expect in the horse business.


Moving on.

Headed to Lexington on Monday. Better go check out Seek’s half-sister — Miss Jacqueline. She is by Jack Milton. And, she is now the theme of our next storyline.

(See you down the road, good and faithful friend / Photo by Gene McLean)





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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