On a dreary Fall afternoon, General Charley's fans witnessed the
The date was Saturday, October 17th. General Charley was entered into his first ever race at Chicagoland's Hawthorne Race Track, which is located in Stickney, IL, only 4 miles west of downtown Chicago. We entered in a 50k Claiming race at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf and had drawn the inside Post number 1.
Rains throughout the week had sodden the turf, so on Raceday they moved the race onto their main dirt course - which looked soggy but was starting to dry out. Of the 10 horses originally entered, 6 of them scratched while another 2 came in as they had been entered for the Main Track Only (MTO).
We agonized a bit if we should come out as well - as the memory of our last place finish last Thanksgiving in the slop at the Buddy Dilberto Handicap was still fresh in our minds. However we had Charley ready - he had already been medicated and we thought - Let's see what he will do. Well we did.
Charley was bet down to the 9-5 favourite in this now 6 horse field. Usual jock Eddie Perez was aboard and we were quietly confident this race was ours - we couldn't have been more wrong.
Prior to the race, I was surprised to hear someone yell "Big Toe!" I turned to gaze upon longtime friend Tony Costa who had travelled from San Diego for some meetings in Chicago and had moved his departure time up so he could surprise me at the race. (Big Toe is what John Winger, played by Bill Murray, had named his Drill Sergant Hulka in the movie Stripes, which Tony has called me for years - the ass.)
With him was another longtime friend, Lou Vivona, who I hadn't seen for at least 10 years. Both Tony and Lou had worked with me in our IT group way back at Motorola. A great surprise. They are pictured with me in photo above right, with Tony to my left and Lou to my right.
Also, going back even further, 1980's Blue Cross/Blue Shield IT alum Irene Espinosa and boyfriend Shane also attended making their 1st appearance to see Red Rabbit Racing in the arena.
Sr Partner Peggy Lenz could not make it as whe was in Florida and Partner Jeff Johnson was busy on the jobsite so he was not in attendance either. However, Jean & Rick along with assorted spouses, kids, siblings, nieces, & nephews were onhand, primed to mosey over to the the Winners Circle to have our picture taken.
As usual, Charley broke great and Eddie hustled him up to the lead - per the plan from trainer Chris. He stayed there and we anxiously awaited the split times for the quarter mile hoping that it was over 25 seconds. When we saw 24 seconds flashed for the quarter we were dismayed, but when they flashed 48 for the half - we knew we were toast on this sloggy track. We knew that setting that fast a pace on the lead, on that deep a track was going to be too taxing for Charley. Sure enough as he entered the stretch he had backed up to 3rd place and was headed for the rear of the pack - which he found.
He came through the race fine - though extremely dirty - and will now be headed south. There is a race at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans late November that hopefully he can rebound in. SO the lesson learned is:
PS... Check out the poem by Kathy Rabbit all the down at the bottom of the page.
If you could imagine my life as a horse…
You’d know that I hate Hawthorne Race Course.
The weather is cold-there’s a chill in the air…
That’s why I am growing my winter course hair.
I’m farther away-the carrots are less…
How the heck did I get into this mess?
Because of the weather I get moved off the turf…
I was ready for grass where I knew I could surf!
To a track that is not “poly”
Oh my gosh-come on golly.
I’m sorry my race was nothing to see…
It’s time for Kentucky-lucky for me!
I bid you all a sweet good-bye…
Look for me in a month and watch me vie.
To a nicer place I am heading to…
Trust me I’ll try harder and hope to see you!