Horse racing takes a lot of back-breaking work, and a lot of faith. The latter is what is needed the most, because in this industry, Lady Luck can turn around and drop kick you in the face when you least expect it.
Winning is exhilarating and fulfilling, usually making all the blood, sweat and tears worth it. When your horse runs an honest race and loses, those losses are a lot easier to take than the kind that come just as often: a loss due to something completely out of anyone’s control. Your jockey is off because they got hurt the race before; your horse gets trampled by another during the race and has to slow; a horse that has always been healthy hits a temperature days before the race you’ve been working toward all year and is scratched.
Those are just a few examples of the bad luck that jump in front of the finish line. It’s those uncontrollable circumstances that break your heart and can bend your spirit.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written in this blog, and for that I apologize. Especially since I’ve gone nearly all summer and our racing season with barely a peep. It’s simply been a whirlwind of my first summer at a new job, a new schedule and the insipid Minnesota shutdown that put more than 1,000 people at Canterbury Park out of work for three weeks. Well, it all had me a little off my game.
Despite what felt like was craziness, I made it to Canterbury quite a few times, and even managed to bring a few new fans to the track along the way. Coin (our 2-year-old racehorse) is unlike most of our horses. She didn’t spend the winter at home, and Mom just bought her at Canterbury from a breeder she used to train for at the beginning of the season. Flash, the 3-year-old we planned to run seemed to get sore in training so my Mom was taking no chances and decided she would not be a racehorse after all.
Coin and I really haven’t had time to get to know one another and she seemed a little stand-offish when it came to me.
But on one of my last visits there, I had the chance to catch a few minutes with her in the stall. She suddenly just leaned in toward me, letting her head rest against my shoulder and nestled her soft nose into my hand. It was the smallest of gestures, but for some reason, her quiet “hug” suddenly made my own world slow down and the noise in my head quieted. It was just what I needed.
The season is not over. Mom is now in Iowa, at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, our “home turf” as she calls it since we generally have Iowa-bred horses.
Last week Mom called and said Coin was sick, again. She seemed to have the flu bug a couple weeks ago and Mom scratched her from racing over the weekend. Coin has spent a few days at the equine clinic, and she is doing well now. Scratching from one race is not that big of a deal (although not great). But, Coin is paid into the Iowa Stallion Breeder’s Futurity to be run Oct.1, the last weekend of the Iowa meet. In order to run in the futurity, she will have to qualify by running trials this weekend.
We especially wanted her to qualify, not for the purse but because the breeder we bought her from said we chose the wrong horse when we chose her. He’ll be running some of his own horses in the futurity, all geldings.
So, it would be nice to see our girl beat the boys. More than that, we have faith in her that she is talented, but she hasn’t had the chance to prove it, yet. Like I mentioned before, trying and failing is much better than never getting the chance to try. It’s one more of those “horse lessons” I have a feeling transcends the dirt track.
As of today, Coin is feeling much better, although the cause of her illness has not wholly been explained. If by tomorrow, she does not look 100 percent, we wouldn’t take a chance and still run her. In the meantime, I can’t wait to get back down there and give her a little hug of my own to make her feel better. The same thing she did for me just a few weeks ago.