On Arlington's Opening Weekend Red Rabbit Racing's General Charley
May 3rd, our hero ran in a $50,000 Claiming race for a purse of over $30,000 at a mile and a sixteenth on the first turf race of the year at Arlington Park. Reunited with Charley was jockey Eddie Perez who had ridden our boy to victory last year in the Tin Man Stakes.
It was a beautiful day with the skies clear and the temperature in the upper 70's at race time. We were the 7th race on the card and went off as the 8-5 favourite starting out of the 2 hole on Arlington's soft turf.
As usual we had many friends and family that joined us to watch Charley's effort. All the partners were there, led by Sr. Partner and Founder Peggy Lenz who had a wild racing weekend having been at the Derby the prior day and then raced up to Arlington to see our Charley.
The paddock was full of Rabbits as we watched trainer Chris Block saddle our confident miler. Charley was calm, very professional and looked determined as he walked in the paddock. Jockey Eddie Perez got his instructions from Chris which were simply to grab the lead if no one wanted it and set SLOW fractions until we get to the top of the stretch and then turn him loose. Chris was worried about the field taking a run at us down the lane and wanted the slow fractions to keep enough in reserve for Charley that he could hold them all off.
Charley broke first and then set very deliberate fractions of 25 for the quarter and 50 for the half mile. When they turned for home Eddie still had him in check and then slowly let him have his head. Our Pursuers took a run at us - but Charley produced another gear and lengthened his lead to 5 lengths. He hit the finish line with every other horse in the race enjoying a long distance view of his dappled ass. Woomba!
Pandemonium broke out amongst all the Rabbits from their usual vantage point on the track apron just past the finish line. Hugs, Kisses, & High Fives were the order of the day as we celebrated the victory and awaited Charley's triumphant return from the Gallop out. We then piled into the Winners Circle for the photo all Horsemen love. We must have had over 50 people in the photo and when we were all assembled, the General was led in to the accolades of all. Woomba!
Picture above is all the connections of Red Rabbit Racing beginning with Partner Jeff on the left, followed by Partner Rick, followed by Southern Trainer Neil Pessin, who trains Charley when we race at Keeneland or the Fair Grounds, followed by Nothern Trainer Chris Block who trains when we race at Arlington, Partner Peggy Lenz, and Partner Jean Gallo.
Bro-In-Law Steve Gallo was kind enough to take the pictures, all of which can be seen below. He did a great job!
After the celebration many went back to the barn where Charley was just arriving at his stall as he had been directed to the detention barn to provide a sample for routine drug testing. Groom Orozmo let him graze for a half hour and then was led back into his stall, where he was showered with many carrots from the adoring throng. He even looked too tired to try and bite any of us.
Then we left Charley to get some well deserved rest and headed to our favourite Post-Race restaurant Twigs for the usual Pizza, Beer, Toasts, Speeches and Fun. However the speeches were not well prepared and need to be improved for next time - especially from the silent partners. A great finale to what was a great day.
Last thoughts.... Our little racing enterprise has been blessed by the fact that Trainer Chris Block even considered taking us on back in 2004. But Red Rabbit racing was even more fortunate when Chris had us partner with Trainer Neil Pessin when racing outside of Illinois this past winter. As you can see left, Neil can only be a trainer as being a jockey is out!
Though the official race card for this win shows Chris Block as our trainer, Neil kept Charley sharp and delivered Charley to Chris at a level that allowed him to win this race. Neil deserves every bit as much congratulations & thanks for our win this past Sunday.
Like Chris, Neil is a great horsemen. I tell you, the best thing about this business is not just the excitement of the racing- but it is the friends you make along the way. And Chris and Neil top that list.
pss. Partner Jeff is RRR's, resident Poet and Scribe. On race day he sent out the following e-mail to all the partners - which was absolutely hilarious. Tiltled 'Will Win' please enjoy it below.....
Yes, this Rabbit has figured out the reason for our rash of bad luck. Its not shin splints, not lasik, not swine flu,. Its the horseshoe, I received from Charley's first race. I mounted it on my wall upside down. Like an upside down u. I have always thought this was the correct way , due to the fact that this is the way the three stooges always had it in their horse shorts. This was doom for our stable . Vicky has been chirping about it for months and just yanked it off the wall today and turned it up right. U This will lift the curse I have placed among the Rabbit nation.. LETS DO IT!!!!!!!!!