As quoted by our jockey James Graham following the race
That proved to be the best quote following our last place finish in the Buddy Diliberto handicap held on November 28th at the Fair Grounds In New Orleans.
We had entered General Charley in the $60,000 added handicap scheduled to run a mile and one sixteenth on the turf. A field of 7 had entered, 2 of which looked like very strong competition for our Charley. Red Rabbit Racing partners, Peggy, Jean, Rick, Jeff and wife Vicky made the trek down to the Big Easy on Thanksgiving day to see the race.
Reading the pre-race roundup in the Daily Racing Form, the trainer of one of the race favourites said that if rain took the race off the turf - they would definitely scratch. Reading this, we all started praying for rain and the skies opened, drenching the track and making the turf unusable - which moved the race to the dirt - or I should say mud. 3 of the 7 horses scratched leaving a field of 4 left. What we didn't know is that General Charley hated the mud more than all the other contenders and finished a well beaten 4th. As it turns out, we should have scratched too.
Picture right is of Peggy and Jean doing a rain dance - that worked! Picture upper left show Charley in front coming out of the gate in the heavy mud. By the 1st turn however, there were signs that Charley wasn't handling the surface well and as they turned for home, jockey James Graham discovered Charley had nothing left in the tank on this day.
James eased Charley in the last 16th as there was no point in whipping him on - hence his quote at the top of the page. Charley looks to have come through the race fine and we are already looking at his next race in about a month.
We spent lots of time at the barn feeding pounds of carrots to Charley. Though he loved the carrots Charley still shows you that he is the boss as he is as cantankerous as ever.
I think Partner Peg referred to him as 'Hateful' over 15 times as Charley with his ears laid back against his neck would look to take a nip out of us whenever we didn't produce a carrot quick enough for him.
We also spent some time with our trainer Neil Pessin. Neil is a colleague of our Illinois trainer Chris Block and Chris had set us up with Neil for the winter at Fair Grounds.
Neil is an excellent horseman and, like Chris, he answers all our questions, duly ignores all our suggestions and lets us take over his barn when we want to see Charley. etc. Chris talks with Neil daily and it's like we get 2 trainers for the price of one. A great arrangement for us.
Neil had steered us to stay at the beautiful Hotel Monteleone right in the French Quarter. It was spectacular. Thanksgiving night, Peggy, Jean and Rick walked down Bourbon Street and it was quite a sight to see. Following our race the partners and Neil all went out to a restaurant called Brightsen's which was fantastic. They even have a drink there named the Pessinator - named in honour of our Neil. They served an unbelievable Butternut Squash Shrimp Bisque which was to die for and everyone had more than enough to eat. A memorable night.
Picture below is of Neil on the left with Jean, Peggy, Rick, Jeff and Vicky at the rail prior to the race. Though not the result we were hoping for, Charley still earned us a small check and we also learned that