With four Rabbits making the trek down to the Big Easy we found that
Jan 25, 2009, General Charley ran a beaten 7th in a $62,500 Allowance Optional Claiming race at a mile and one sixteenth on Fair Grounds bizarre turf course.
Of the $48,000 purse dollars available - Red Rabbit Racing pocketed exactly zero. Charley looked ready, but trainer Neil Pessin was nervous as we had drawn the one hole next to the rail for the break.
Neil had given jockey James Graham instructions to swing him out behind the leader down the stretch the 1st time round, but alas, it was a wall of horses as half of the 8 horse field vied for the lead, leaving James no way to swing Charley outside the entire race.
When they turned for home Charley looked like he was in great position as he was running third against the rail without a single horse in front of him.
However, the soft turf on the rail was just swallowing horses as no one was winning from that position. As usual, Charley tried hard, but midway through the stretch he was backing up from the field and finished poorly.
Partners Jean & Rick along with Rick's 2 sons Brett & Brad made the trip down to New Orleans. We stayed at the Hilton near the French Quarter and enjoyed the beautiful (and economical) accomodations. We stopped by the barn the day before the Sunday race and showered Charley with multiple pounds of Carrots. Seeing the goodies we brought him, Charley showed his pleasure by trying to bite us multiple times with his ears laid straight back. Picture upper right is the chomper at work.
On Raceday, Neil had set us up with a beautiful suite on the top floor of the Fair Grounds. Brett & Brad walked Charley in from the Barn to the Paddock before the race. The boys really enjoyed that. Following the dissappointing race, we went back to the barn to console our warrior and give him another measure of Carrot treats. He wasn't any friendlier.
Neil ordered a post-race scope that showed Charley was fine - no internal bleeding whatsoever. Jeanie talked Neil into letting herself Hotwalk Charley for a couple
loops around the barn. He allowed her, but walked with Jeanie step by step to ensure our hero didn't bolt out the stable door.
That night we went out to dinner with Neil and Drew, who is in New Orleans taking care of wunderkid Giant Oak - a Chris Block trained 3 yr old with very big plans. We went to Nola's restaurant in the French Quarter and had the usual outstanding time.
Monday morning we went back to the barn for a last visit with Charley before we flew home to Chicago.
However on the flight home, the excitement was just beginning as 40 minutes before landing a powerful burning smell had circulated through the cabin. As we landed emergency fire trucks ringed the runway ready to douse us if we were aflame. Pretty intense but we were obviously fine.
Next race will have us look for a little easier company to enhance our chances of pocketing some cash. Neil is on the hunt for the next race and we will keep you posted.