11/12/2013 6:05PM

Fighting Chance


It’s never easy asking for help, pride being the demon that it is. But now and again it doesn’t hurt to test the waters of charity in the community that you love, which is why Laura D’Angelo is letting people in Thoroughbred racing know about her husband, the former trainer Michael D’Angelo, and his struggle with the spread of cancer first diagnosed last January.

The D’Angelos are a known quantity in the East Coast racing world. Michael, who is 55, has trained on his own for a number of well-known clients. He has worked as an assistant for such noted horsemen as Jonathan Sheppard, Barclay Tagg and Tony Dutrow. Together, Laura and Michael have bred and raised their own runners, and they know what it’s like to stand in the winner’s circle alongside one of them.

Michael’s family has set up a website called Michael's Story (that young lad beaming down from atop the racehorse Arhat being held by Michael is his nephew, Judah Rice). The site offers more of an appreciation than a plea, describing people who have devoted most of their lives to the care of Thoroughbred racehorses. The rest of us are either left admiringly bewildered by their passion, or envious.

Still, their plight will ring very familiar when it comes to the challenges faced by the D’Angelos regarding the gaps in modern-day health care coverage. This reporter is forever amazed at the generosity of the Thoroughbred community, but never surprised. If it's not an injured jockey without resources it's a herd of abandoned broodmares desperate for rescue or the children of the backstretch in need of educational support. On this I will offer very low odds: those who can help Michael undoubtedly will.