Ten years ago I attended my first horse race at Oaklawn Park. On that day, and all the days since, I stood on the rail as a bettor and a fan. While there isn’t much that beats rooting home a big betting score or seeing your favorite horse win, I can now say it’s got nothing on watching a race from the rail as a horse you OWN is in the race. On Sunday in the 6th race at Oaklawn Park, the Racing Dudes had their first ever horse run in a race when #7 Mountain Home stepped in the gates for the first time in her career. Even though our percentage in the horse is very small it didn’t effect my level of excitement at all. The pride in knowing we finally had a horse that belonged to us in some way on the track was an incredible feeling.
Thanks to Ten Strike Racing this dream became a reality and a thrill of a lifetime. Ten Strike Racing packaged six horses together and sold shares of the six horses as a group. The Dudes liked the idea of this and got involved with the successful ownership group. We liked the inexpensiveness of getting involved with the horses and also the idea of getting a group of horses rather than just one. It also didn’t hurt that the horses were targeting Oaklawn Park. Ten Strike Racing’s main goal is to promote the excitement and enjoyment of owning a piece of a race horse. I can personally say they accomplished that goal for me, and several others that were in attendance on Sunday.
Ten Strike Racing’s main goal is to promote the excitement and enjoyment of owning a piece of a race horse.
With every horse race there is a process each horse must go through before actually running. There is the walk over from the barn to the track, the saddling and prepping in the paddock, and the post parade. In each of these steps leading up to the race a horse can act up or get upset and exert much needed energy that could cost them when the race actually began. Mountain Home had none of these problems. Even though she was a first time starter she acted like she had done this many times in the past. You could tell trainer Brad Cox had her ready to go. While inside the paddock the horses next to her and behind her were acting up badly, however our little filly stood like a statue. I’ve watched horses in the Oaklawn paddock for years, but I can honestly say I’ve never been more proud of a horse in my life. She handled everything like a pro and her actions gave me a sense of calmness and confidence.
Of course once those gates open confidence goes out the window as we all know anything can happen…but once again she gave me calmness as I saw that #7 saddle cloth break from the pack and head towards the front. What a relief…the biggest worry leading up to the race was getting her out of the gate and jockey Jon Court had done it. We were on the front and looking good. 22.05 comes up for the first quarter. Quick but the track was playing fast. The next quarter comes up 46.06…still fast but she looked like she was doing it so easy. As they turned for home she finally shook loose from the 12 horse that had hounded her for most of the race and looked to be home free. Screaming wildly down the stretch from the rail both myself and my good friends with me thought we were home free! She was pulling away and we were going nuts! “Oh no here comes the 5” someone then said with fear in their voice. At this point I hadn’t looked at one other horse other than ours. Quickly I scan back and see the #5 Dutch Parrot, the horse we were all worried about before the race, closing well on the outside. As they passed the 16th pole she was still in front but the lead was diminishing. Mountain Home dug in…but it wasn’t enough. Dutch Parrot passed our filly in the shadow of the wire to beat us by a head.
After the race, obviously the feeling of disappointment began to set in as we led for 99.7% of the race and still lost. As I mentioned earlier, the big fear was her getting out of the gate and breaking well, and once she cleared that hurdle it looked like it would be smooth sailing. However, this time it was not to be. The emotions quickly turned from disappointed to incredibly upbeat and hopeful once watching the replay and realizing she ran a great race. Battling with another horse the whole way while setting quick fractions took a toll on her, and it was just too much to ask of her to hold off a solid filly in Dutch Parrot who also had an experience edge over us.
Next time! In racing that’s always the line…it’s always next time. That seemed to be the sentiments of all the people involved with Mountain Home after the race as she ran too good to lose in an Arkansas bred race. I would have to say I totally agree that next time she should be ultra-tough to beat, and will certainly be the betting favorite. Next time she should win as long as she runs that type of race again. But more importantly, she could even improve and run better considering this was her debut effort. Next time she’ll be ready to pick up the win. Next time we’re getting our picture taken!