On Arlington Park's biggest day of the season our General Charley
Saturday, August 8th, Red Rabbit Racing's General Charley ran in the 1st race on Arlington Million Day! His race was an Allowance/Optional Claiming race for a purse of $34,500 at a distance of one mile and a 16th over Arlington's inner turf course. General Charley was in for a claiming tag for $62,500. We drew the inside post position and ran against 4 other horses - as 2 of the longshots had scratched before the race.
Aboard Charley was usual jock Eddie Perez. Trainer Chris Block, looking very dapper in a coat and tie, saddled Charley and was a busy lad as he had 4 horses entered on this day including star 3 yr old Giant Oak who was competing later on the card in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes. Charley looked as cool and professional in the paddock as he always does and went off as the second choice of the punters at 2-1.
All the partners made it to the race with other friends and family in tow as well. In the paddock before the race I spotted National Hockey League legend and Hall of Famer Denis Savard, who was there cheering on a friend's horse that was entered against us (Note... Charley kicked his ass during the race).
I grabbed Kathy and asked Denis if he would mind taking a picture with us. He couldn't have been more gracious and said sure. While we were there chatting, I told him that he was the greatest centre I ever saw, but I said that I was still a bit angry with him. He was a bit taken aback and said 'Why?"
"Well," I responded, "Back in 1984 I sent you an invitation to our wedding even though you didn't know either Kathy or myself ." "I was hoping that you would politely decline, sign the invitation and send it back so I could then show everyone that my great friend Denis Savard was invited to our wedding - but just couldn't make it."
Denis stared at me and Kathy for a moment or 2 and when he realized I wasn't joking he explained "Well, I can assure you I never got it - because I would have responded!" We all had a good laugh, talked a little more about Hockey, and then got back focused on the race as Charley was about to head to the track.
All of us made our way to our usual vantage point on the Track Apron down by the finish line. Charley broke great out of the gate and when no one else grabbed the lead, he took it with Eddie trying to keep the pace as slow as he could. Hanging right with us off Charley's right shoulder was a fine 4 yr old horse, Wicked Style, who had went off as the 6-5 favourite. By the time Charley hit the middle of the backstretch, he and Wicked Style had put 10 lengths on the field and it became clear it was going to be a match race to the wire between our General Charley and Wicked Style.
General Charley dug in hard and was holding off Wicked Style deep into the stretch. However 200 yards from the wire, Wicked Style just stuck his neck out in front and Charley couldn't overtake him. An absolutely great race and we were very proud of Charley as he finished a neck back in second, securing us another piece of the purse.
We gave Eddie and Charley a rousing ovation as Eddie brought our hero back to the finish line to get unsaddled. As Chris strode by us to check on Charley he proclaimed "He ran a great race!", which he absolutely did. The greatest thing with this horse is that he runs his heart our EACH and EVERY time. Win, Lose or Last he gives it his all.
Southern trainer Neil Pessin also came by and said he thought Charley had run a fantastic race. Neil said that Wicked Style is a real fine horse and we gave him everything he could handle.
Senior partner Peggy had to depart immediately afterwards as she had a student competing in a horse show down the road. All the other Rabbit partners stayed and watched races culminating in a fantastic Arlington Million. Thanks to Steve for taking the pictures and Brett for taking the video that you can see below.
Though we always race to win, Charley gave it everything he had and just came up a bit short.
Brett's Paddock Video
Brett's Race Video