(Our baby Diamond Solitaire and all of us are looking ahead / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
On Saturday, my beautiful wife — Leigh Ann — and I got to travel out to the most wonderful La Croix Training Center in Oldham County to see our lovely 2-year-old filly Diamond Solitaire.
Along for the trip were 14 of our best friends and family members — all of whom have purchased a share in our little bundle of horse joy.
It was beautiful. Like my wife.
It was wonderful. Like the facility.
It was a lovely day. Like our filly.
For the majority of our group, this is their first chance to join the ranks of racehorse ownership. And, you couldn’t dampen their spirit or cold water their enthusiasm with either a frozen track or a stiff breeze that chilled the bone like a Chicago morn in January.
One by one, each of the new owners pulled out their cell phones and took photos from the time they stepped foot on icy ground until they loaded back and headed back to Louisville for lunch and libations.
Snap. The filly was in her stall. Had to have that photo.
Snap. The filly got a rider up. Great photo opportunity.
Snap. The stall door opened. Had to have that one for the album.
Snap. The filly exited; looked around at all her new admirers; and headed to the pen for her morning routine. Look there. An action shot.
Snap. The rider turned the filly to the right and steered her through a little jog. Poetry in motion.
Snap. The rider turned the filly to the left and steered her through another light jog. Poetry in motion II.
Snap. Our filly was coming out of the pen and headed into the sun for some profile pictures. She looked at all the looks. Her eye caught this one and that one. She belted out a loud whinny, as if to say hello and welcome.
And, then I looked at our group. Every. Single. One. This unruly group that is full of fun and life was standing pat; standing at attention; and standing still — for the first time in a very long time. To a person, they all had a huge smile upon their face. I could only imagine that the smile was just a mirror reflection of the huge grin going on in each of their souls.
It was an introduction to their newest baby — Diamond Solitaire.
It was their introduction to the world of racehorse ownership, too. They were all owner “babies.”
It was their day to make the introduction.
Owner meet horse.
Horse meet owner.
Dreams meet reality.
Reality meet dreams.
I couldn’t even begin to tell you what was going on in their respective minds or in their stomachs. All I can tell you what was going on in mind.
It was exactly what warms your heart on a cold winter day.
It was exactly what I was hoping to see in a topsy turvy world of Thoroughbred horse racing. New people. Excited. Jubilant. Laughing. Smiling. Living.
It was exactly what owning a racehorse should be about.
It was fun. Pure. Unabashed. Fun.
Oh, don’t get me wrong.
We all have a long way to go in this journey together.
Diamond Solitaire is just a baby. Truly, she is a baby’s baby. She is a 2-year-old by official record only. In fact, she won’t even turn 2 on the calendar until June of this year. And, it was only recently that Diamond Solitaire left her the home life at Deerfield Farm just down the road and headed to La Croix to begin her nursery school lessons.
Once she is done here, she will travel up to Lexington to join the ranks of trainer Stephen Lyster at the Thoroughbred Training Center. Makes sense to us. After all, Stephen trains Diamond Solitaire’s half-sister Miss Jacqueline — who is a winner in her only career start to date.
After that? We really don’t know what travels will await.
But we are all ready for the journey.
The journey of a lifetime. Together.
Horse. Man. Woman. And, dreams.
The story to be written.
All Photos by our very own Holly M. Smith: