So, little known fact about me. I've been handicapping horses since I was 15-years-old. Heck, I didn't even know that charting horses, their pedigrees, jockeys, and trainers, as well as how they run on dirt, turf, and mud was called handicapping. For fun, I would tell my mom which horses to bet on, and we'd take a ride down to the local off-track betting place and she would run in and place our bets. Nothing big, because I didn't care about the money. I just wanted to see if I could do it. To see if my skills (if you could call it that) worked. Sometimes I won, sometimes not and my dad would always admonish us. "You make money by working hard, not by gambling," he'd say. Mom always said it was just for fun. And it was.
To this day, I bet on four races a year. The Kentucky Oaks (race before the Derby on Friday with only fillies) and the Triple Crown. I was at Belmont when American Pharaoh won the first Triple Crown in 30+ years, and I still get goosebumps when I talk about it. 90,000 people all rooting for the same team is indescribable.
Saturday I bet on Rich Strike, earlier in the day when his odds were like 50-1. By post time, they were 80-1.
I used the same method. I saw his sire was Keen Ice... the horse who beat Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh, in the G1 Travers. The only horse in history to cross the wire ahead of the reigning Triple Crown champion. I placed a $6 bet. $2 for the win, $2 for place, and $2 for show.
Because in horse racing, as in life, you just never know. Sometimes you have to take a chance and go with the underdog. And I am their queen. A female Charlie Brown, if you will. I GOT A ROCK, my personal motto. But I have never stopped dreaming.
Sometimes dreams come true.
As you probably have heard by now, Rich Strike came from behind at a blistering pace to defeat the 19 other horses in the field. Horses touted as the favorites because of their previous wins and speed records.
Rich Strike had just entered the Derby Friday morning, roughly half an hour before the deadline to enter. On all the pre-race pomp and circumstance, he barely got a mention. No one gave him a thought.
As I stood alone in my living room Saturday evening around 7:00, I watched in awe (and screamed) as jockey Sonny Leon weaved through the field, catching the horses in the lead. At breakneck speed, he crossed the finish line first.
This is what never giving up looks like. Dream on, my friend. You just never know.