Realizing a dream from the day this all began, General Charley runs at
A beautiful Nov 14-15th weekend in Louisville began almost 6 months ago, when Hendrickson co-worker Connie Kocher invited Kathy & I to attend a Kentucky Colonels event at Churchill Downs with her husband Colonel Bob.
We instantly agreed as it sounded like a great event and a fantastic opportunity to see live racing at this greatest of American Racetracks, Churchill Downs. (Some background about the Kentucky Colonels....
As best as I understand, this organization dates back to the Civil War and currently includes over 2700 Colonels that must be appointed by the Govenor of Kentucky. Bob Kocher is a Colonel in this charitable organization and their event at Churchill is one of 2 that they hold annually at the track, the other being on Derby Day.)
Well in a co-incidence that no one could have foreseen, last month RRR trainer Chris Block slots our General Charley into our 1st race ever at Churchill on the very day that we had blocked out over 6 months ago to join Bob & Connie for the Colonels event. Now this is getting really exciting!
RRR partners Jean & Peggy asked if they could attend this event as well, and Bob & Connie were happy to include them at their table. Picture upper left is Col. Bob and wife Connie with Churchill Charley. Sadly, partner Jeff Rabbit could not attend as he was swamped with his business. Jeff you were missed! The event was held in Churchill's Millionaire's Row and featured over 100 tables in a huge room. Joining us also at our table was Kocher friends John and Marcia. Picture below is us all at our Primo Table # 7.
I had the great idea that I wanted to walk Charley over to the paddock from his barn and partner Peggy said she wanted to do that as well. So after the second race we walked over to the barn where Drew, Chris' assistant, was completing his final efforts readying Charley for the race. Drew had one lead and Peggy the other as we started walking Charley up the backside onto the track to the Paddock. Well, no had had told me that Charley walks faster than I can run (like I could run) and everytime I fell behind a bit Charley gave my head a swish of his tail as if to say "Keep Moving Fatso!" It was hilarious - but I made it!
Now onto the race. General Charley had drawn the 6 hole into a full field of 12 in a $40K claiming race on the turf at a distance of 1 mile. Chris shipped Charley in from Hawthorne the day before the race. Although the morning line had us as 4th choice at 6-1, when the race ran the Kentucky crowd thought little of us and bid our odds up to 19-1. Chris flew down for the race and jockey Eddie Perez also flew down - which was absolutely great.
All the video of the race and everything else is found at the bottom of the page. Make sure to check that out.
As Chris saddled Charley in the historic Churchill Paddock, we could barely contain ourselves with the excitement of actually running here. As Drew led Charley out the tunnel to the track, Chris took us up to the owners boxes on the finish line and we watched the Post Parade and got ready for the race.
When the gate rang open, Charley leaped out and joined the leaders coming down the stretch for the first time. Jockey Eddie executed Chris' instructions perfectly and kept Charley just off the pace while stalking the outside flank of the leader. As they turned for home the odds-on favourite, Inca King, lengthened his lead and we were also caught by a late charging horse - so we finished a very game 3rd. We were ecstatic as Charley had "Run His Eyeballs Out , as Neil Pessin puts it, in a great effort, earning us a tidy check for our days efforts.
Back up in the Millionaires Room, all the Colonels had cheered us on during the race. In fact, as we departed to walk Charley over from the barn to the race, the announcer in the Millionaires Room had said " And the Owners of General Charley are in the House!" It was tremendous.
Charley came through the race just fine, although he was one tired horsie, having vanned in on the Friday and then ran a tough one on Saturday. We gave him his the usual gross of carrots, but we departed the barn earlier than usual after the race as you could see that Charley was exhausted and wanted to lay down. He had sure earned his rest.
However, Charley is off to New Orleans on Tuesday (17th) where he will campaign from the Big Easy during the winter.
A BIG THANKS TO COLONEL BOB AND CONNIE FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE WEEKEND!