10/27/2010 10:09PM

Twenty years ago, Espoir City and Perfect Drift - 10-27-10


Twenty years ago today

I’d like to take a moment to remember Go For Wand, Mr. Nickerson and Shaker Knit, who all suffered fatal injuries in a star-crossed Breeders’ Cup -- 20 years ago today. It was among the darkest days in racing’s history, but memories of the three horses live on.

For me, Go For Wand never looked prouder than when she and Randy Romero were paraded at the 1989 Breeders’ Cup at Gulfstream – with the young filly’s neck blanketed in yellow-and-purple.


Espoir City takes in the sights

Thankfully, horses are always there to provide new memories. Today, Espoir City reminded me why I love my job.

He took his sweet time in the morning, jogging for at least fifteen minutes down in the chute before his morning gallop. Afterward, it was a (very) leisurely stroll back to the barn. And after the track closed, he was still being ridden in an large, empty quarantine barn yard – a yard that will become much busier in coming days.

His rider slowly walked him across the yard and from corner to corner, stopping at the corners as the horse gazed through the chain link. He watched the traffic and the few people in the next yard. His rider even allowed him to come see what in the world I was doing peering over the fence at him.

Espoir City is a good sport (as are his connections), and he seems to be enjoying his American adventure. I’m enjoying it, too.

A Perfect resident

If you visit Churchill Downs in the mornings, you might notice a slightly roly-poly bay gelding - with a winter coat and a fiesty attitude - being ponied just before daybreak.  He is none other than Perfect Drift, recently shipped to Churchill from his farm in Missouri. And while he’s put on a pound or two since his racing days, he still has his star attitude.

The 11-year-old gelding was third in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and ran in five consecutive Breeders’ Cup Classics (his best finish, a third in 2005). He has occasionally been loaned to the track’s Kentucky Derby Museum but, according to its website, he will now be the main Thoroughbred on display. He’s taking over the job from Phantom on Tour, whose advancing EPM required a more sedate retirement.