On a glorious Fathers Day our General Charley
Sunday June 21st, Red Rabbit Racing's stellar gelding General Charley ran in the feature race on the card, an Allowance Optional Claiming race for a purse of $34,500. Multiple Rabbits Fans from the 4 corners of the United States came to the festivities to see Charley race against 7 other mules at a mile and 1/16th. Charley was for sale for $62,500.
The race had originally been scheduled for the turf, but monsoon like rains earlier in the week moved it to the all-weather Polytrack. Usual jockey Eddie Perez was aboard and we drew the outside post leaving from the 8 hole.
This was a tough race and Charley was running on only 15 days rest. Before the race, trainer Chris Block told Eddie that at least one, maybe 2 horses, were going to go for the lead right out of the gate. He wanted Eddie to hold him back and then try and make the lead at the head of the stretch - hopefully with enough left to last until the wire.
As you can see from the race video below, Charley was one of 4 horses across the track at the head of the lane. He got in front and withstood a withering charge by Just Julian - not once, but twice. General Charley just dug down deep and absolutely refused to lose! A gutty effort that we see each and every race from this warrior. Picture up top is of Charley leaving the gate with his hind feet propelling him forward while he claws forward with his front. Two jumps out of the gate and he is at racing speed.
Robbie Jonmoore, South Carolina resident and eldest son of family patriarch Robert Arthur Johnson, reads his Rabbit e-mail Thursday before the race and sees Charley is scheduled to run the following Sunday. He immediately decides he is coming to the race and without telling anyone starts a 14 hour non-stop run up to Arlington Heights. He shows up at the race and one-by-one surprises each of the family who haven't seen him for several years. The best was when he surprised his Dad in the Paddock as you can see from the photos to the right.
My mom, who just recently lost her beloved Carl to cancer, came up to see us and take in the race. It has been difficult for her over the last few weeks as anyone could imagine. But it was a joy to see her having fun and participating with all her kids and family in our great day. Picture below is of Mom cheering with joy as she was in the Winners Circle for the first time. Love you Mom.
After the race, everyone piled into the Winner's Circle for the picture. We were particularly honored that Chris Block's Mom & Dad, David & Pat Block were with us in the photo. Everyone wanted to either hug, kiss, or high five jockey Eddie Perez as he met us after he dismounted Charley. Also Red Rabbit Racing's southern trainer, Neil Pessin, came by with his hearty congratulations and everyone took the same liberties with him that we had done with Chris and Eddie.
As I spoke earlier, Rabbit fans from the 4 corners of the US were with us on this glorious day. Robbie drove up from S. Carolina, Mom came up from Florida... But out on the West Coast, Rick's friend Tony Costa called to say that he was going to the OTB outside his San Diego area home and put some money on our Charley. Well we made Tony and his lovely wife Debbie some money as Tony poses with his winning ticket and the cash he won on the nose of our Charley. Way to go Tony!
After the celebration and an abbreviated dinner at Twigs Pizza Place, many of the Rabbit partners went out to the cemetary to be with our Dad, one of the original RRR partners who is no longer with us.
It was emotional as we know that Dad would have loved a day like we had.