On a muggy Jul 31,
Setting the scene, it is a hot Thursday afternoon at Arlington Park. A freak thunderstorm rolls through the Arlington Heights area and drops a torrent of rain upon Arlington Park.
The track stewards make a quick decision to pull all the scheduled races off the turf and run them on the main track. The 6th race on that card, a 50k claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth scheduled for the turf, features Red Rabbit Racing's stellar gelding General Charley.
Trainer Chris Block makes a call to partner Rick - who is 2000 miles away in Cozumel, Mexico - and advises that we do not scratch in the 11 horse race as Charley has been training well over the Polytrack. The owners agree to stay in and then watch as one by one 7 horses scratch leaving us in running against only 3 other horses!
As General Charley is saddled the track patrons bet Charley down to the even money favourite. Partners Peggy And Jeff are at Arlington watching as Charley takes to the track. Partners Jean & Rick are on a family cruise in the Western Carribean, trying frantically to coax the Ship's dial-up internet connection to display the upcoming race (It failed miserably).
Starting from the 3 hole, Charley breaks clean and goes right to the lead. Our jockey Rene Douglas, leading jock at Arlington by the way, carefully rates Charley while keeping an eye on the 2nd place runner just overs his right shoulder.
The fractions are measured, with Rene holding Charley in check. As they turn for home, Rene lets Charley have his head just a bit and WHOOSH!
In a turn of foot not seen since Big Brown turned on the jets at the Preakness stretch pole, Charley opens up a 7 length lead in about 3 seconds. Rene doesn't even hit Charley once the entire race and eases him over the finish line 8 lengths in front of the next hapless challenger.
Sidenote - As the race started, Rick was on the phone with work colleague Matt Joy who played hookey from work and went to AP to narrate the race to him. Rick thought Matt was lying to him as he was describing Charley in the stretch in front by 5 lengths - then by 8 - then 10 at the wire!
Afterwards, Equibase gives Charley a 102 Speed Rating for the effort - huge considering he trotted in the last 100 yards.