In our 50th race as owners of Red Rabbit Racing, we watched with sadness as
OUR WORKIN FOR HOPS WAS CLAIMED !
for $20,000 following a mediocre 4th place finish this past August 18th. Like in our last race, we had dropped the Hopster down in search of a win, but came up empty.
We went off as the second favourite, in this Mile on the turf. Eddie, as usual was in the irons. He hustled him out of the gate well enough, but didn't engage the leaders in the blistering speed duel that ensued.
The opening fractions were scalding hot at 22 and 46 in change, while we laid back fourth or fifth in this field of 9. At the head of the stretch, Eddie went to work, but the Hopster produced his rally too late against the tiring leaders and finished fourth, just a length and a half off the lead.
The final time was 2/3rds of a second slower than the track record for that distance, which is astounding considering everyone in this race was for sale for a paltry $20,000.
Within 30 seconds after the Hopster crossed the finish line, my phone rang in the distinctive ringtone reserved for our trainer, Chris Block. I knew before I answered that the Hopster was gone. I answered the phone with the words "We lost him?" And Chris quietly confirmed we did. A single claim was entered for him and he now was owned by someone else.
As The Hopster Disappeared Into The Tunnel, Headed To His New Barn, We Called His Name Out To Say Goodbye.
BUT HE WAS ALREADY GONE.
Further attesting to our wretched racing luck since April, we were told by a reliable source that the Hopster was missing a front shoe as he was walked back through the Paddock to his new barn. Obviously, he tossed it somewhere during the race.
PRETTY TOUGH TO BEAT EVERYONE WHEN ONE OF YOUR SHOES IS ON EUCLID AVENUE
Truth be told, we had mixed feelings about this turn of events. On one hand we had all bonded with this horse, who was full of heart and gave it his all in each and every race. He had run 10 races for us and 5 of them he placed in the money - a win and 4 thirds. In his March win for us at Gulfstream, he had blistered his way around the track, cutting the heart out of runnerup Dark Cove, who later went on to win 2 Graded Stakes races in a row.
WE THOUGHT WE HAD CAUGHT LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE WITH HIM.
But over the last couple months, the Hopster seemed to have entered into a period of decline, as evidenced by his last couple races, where we had dropped him $80,000 in value and still couldn't secure another elusive win. What is probably most sorrowing to us Rabbits, is we now enter another period without a horse. It took 16 months to find the Hopster and none of us want to wait that long again. But this is the Claiming Game in Horseracing.
In my e-mail to the Rabbit Nation announcing the race, I mentioned a 42 year old grudge I'd held with another owner who had a horse in the race. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the e-mail is at the bottom. By the way - his horse, Exchanging Kisses, finished dead Last! So....
Note To The Bear- "You're Forgiven. We're Quits!"
We had alot of company again that came and cheered us on which makes this venture so fun. There must have been 50 people - family, friends and the like that watched us saddle in the Paddock and walked the tunnel with us to see the race. That is so much fun. Picture upper left is of Ben in the Silks with Brett & girlfriend Mary in matching Red Rabbit Racing t-shirts. Picture above right is of Chris legging up Eddie to our hero in the paddock.
Below is some video, first of Kathy with her Rabbit Cam, showing the throng in the Paddock, with video of the race directly beneath that.
We Shall All Remember The Hopster With Love, Thanks And With A Wistful Feeling Of What Might Have Been.
Farewell, Workin For Hops