By Stephen Andrus exclusively for HorseRacingInside.com…
Passion: A powerful emotion, such as love and joy. Some people say this is missing from horse racing. Well, I saw it in abundance at Delaware Park on Saturday, July 16, 2011.
I was more than happy to drive 4 1/2 hours to watch two of the best horses in training, Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, battle it out for a 6th time in their illustrious careers. This just doesn’t happen in racing anymore. It seems the best horses retire by 4, and the ones that do stick around only race a handful of times each year. To see multiple Graded stakes winners, who have won well over $1,000,000 in their careers, do battle against each other with a trip to the Breeders Cups on the line was well worth the drive.
The crowd at Delaware Park was quiet most of the day, but that was to be expected. The race card consisted mostly of claiming races, with a couple of minor stakes races sprinkled in for good measure. I was in the grandstand with a friend taking in the day. I had an easy game plan. Right before the Delaware Handicap, which would feature the duel between Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, my friend and I would take off to the paddock to see these magnificent horses and snap a few pictures. I wondered to myself how many others would have this same plan, and boy did I soon find out.
After the previous race had ended, you would have thought someone yelled “FIRE!”. There was a mad rush from the grandstand down to the paddock area, with people hustling to line up along the fence to take pictures of these to great athletes. It was quite impressive. And once the call for riders up came, and the horses headed to the track, so did the fans. Another mad dash back to the seats to get the best view for the race ensued, with an anxious, almost palpable aura, as we hoped this race would live up to the usual rival billing.
Live up to the expectation, my friends, it certainly did. As theses two great warriors came pounding down the stretch, nose for nose, stride for stride, one could only think of Affirmed vs. Alydar in the Belmont Stakes. It was that good. And it was easy to tell. The yelling, screaming, and cheering from the fans shook the atmosphere. Belmont Park was alive with a grandstand full of passion. It didn’t matter who won. It mattered that two great warriors laid it all on the line, and brought thousands of fans to the track that day. And you know what the best part is? Anyone fortunate enough to witness this spectacular event will tell their friends what they saw, just like I did. And if they can get even one new person to the go to the track someday, they have done an outstanding job.
Horse racing is alive and well, and that is because racing fans embody the word passion.
2011 Delaware Handicap – Blind Luck & Havre de Grace
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