After just 2 weeks rest, we entered General Charley in a 50k claiming race and
Father's Day, June 15th 2008, we finished a game 2nd after leading the race the whole way until literally the last stride when we got head bobbed out of the victory.
Going off as the 2-1 favourite we thought we had the victory as the General was a couple lengths ahead with just 200 yards to go, but the number 2 horse Rotary closed like a bullet and caught us on the last jump.
It was a photo finish and we hoped that maybe the General had held on - but it was soon confirmed that he had lost by less than a head as they hit the wire together. The 3rd place finisher was 3 lengths behind us.
All the partners were in attendance as pictured in the photo top right taken before the race just outside the paddock.
Partner Jeff reported that he had a vision of the General on the lead at the head of the stretch which proved to be dead on. As always, multiple family & friends including family patriarch Robert Arthur Johnson, were in attendance making it all the more fun for all of us.
Trainer Chris Block had debated putting blinkers on the General to keep him focused - but in the end decided not to go with them. He did use a white shadow roll and tongue tie. The General had no bandages on his legs. Other than a bit of foam at the bit the General looked totally relaxed - no lather and showed no agitation whatsoever.
As Chris saddled the General in the paddock, we waited for jockey Rene Douglas to meet us, get his race instructions from Chris and then get tossed into the saddle for the short walk to the track.
Rene is the leading jockey at Arlington Park and we knew we had a horse when Chris told us that Rene's agent had called him following our claim 2 weeks ago and asked if he could ride the General in this race. That told us something as Rene doesn't ask to ride no dogs. All of us followed them through the tunnel to take our customary place on the apron steps by the finish line to watch the race.
As the race was a mile and a sixteenth on the turf the starting gate was situated right in front of the crowd - which was exciting to see. The General broke alertly out of the gate and Rene set a leisurely pace which the field of 6 followed the whole way round. At the head of the stretch Rene turned Charley loose and he drew out to a short lead deep into the lane as all of us were screaming to keep it going.
Silent partner Laurie (who is never actually silent) thought Rene could have used the crop a bit more liberally - but that's just her. The crowd at Arlington was huge on this Father's Day and they were deafening as they came to the wire.
After the race Chris met us with a big smile on his face and thought we did great. He gave us his & Rene's take on the race which was it could have gone either way and we showed a lot of heart.
He reminded us that we got this effort on only 14 days rest (horses usually like between 3-4 weeks) and it was clear to all of us that we may have what we have looked so long for - a good horse that is sound (knock on wood) that we can enjoy for the whole summer.
After the race Chris was informed that the General had been randomly picked to undergo routine drug testing at the detention barn on the backside. After that he was taken back to his stall where Peggy, Jean, Allie and Rick checked him out and gave him some well derserved carrots.
He looks to have come throught the race just fine and we are eagerly combing the condition book for the next race. Our second place purse money pays the General's expenses easily for the next 2-3 months so we are feeling pretty good. And this latest in the money finish, bumps up Red Rabbit Racing's "in the money finish percentage" to a whopping 80%! We've only been out of the money ONCE!