10/27/2010 11:09PM

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.


Fran J More than 1 year ago
Thanks so much for writing this and especially for the photo of Go for Wand's grave. I was starting to write about her myself. I do every year at Breeders Cup time, I can't help but both honor her and honor the impact that her death had on me. Find some interesting hooves down there! There must be some! I wish I was there! I can't wait to see more of your photos!
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
TBTA Check out Sports Illustrated Nov 1 edition. They have a really nice article regarding Zenyatta. Maybe they learned to take the 'positive aspect' of horse racing to the public. We can only hope. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1176387/index.htm
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Ms Livingstone ...Catching up- Thank you for the last couple weeks of some very introspective writing and lovely photos. I'm especially touched by the Go for Wand picture..I still remember her tragic race as if it was yesterday, jeesh...I can't believe it has been 20 years ago. And that was when I was just 'socially' watching the races. It made such an impact on me then. She was certainly a star. And currently, I'm so envious of you being so up close and personal with some of these new stars. Thank you for bring them close to home :) Maybe your talents will be forthcomming with a photo /thread regarding Zenyatta, when she gets to KY ? I'm so glad that you have joined the DRF family.
Paseana More than 1 year ago
Barbara, you and the work that you do are both just outstanding examples of how this sport and especially its equine participants can affect all of us so deeply. Your addition to the blogging community at DRF is a brilliant move, and I look forward to more from you in the future. Your brief tribute to Go For Wand was a "kleenex moment" for me. It's impossible to believe that it's been 20 years. The sadness still lingers even after all this time....and thank you for mentioning Mr. Nickerson and Shaker Knit. They lost their lives on the track that day as well, and most of us, including me, have to reminded of that once in a while. And your photograph of a very proud Go For Wand in yellow and purple positioned right next to the one of her grave marker just about did me in. I don't know what else to say. I do want to point out a mistake that you made, hoping that you would want someone to do it so that you can go back in and correct it if you want. Perfect Drift finished third in the 2002 Derby, not second. Eddie D was the first jock in that race to wake up to what was happening up front with War Emblem and Proud Citizen. He woke up too late, but Perfect Drift did close for third. Thank you for all that you do, and again, looking forward to many more blog posts and photographs from you. You are an absolute delight! < Thank you so much for the note, and the Perfect Drift Derby info - I will make the correction now. And I love that you, too, have feelings for Mr. Nickerson and Shaker Knit. I sometimes feel most sad for Shaker Knit, whose record wasn't quite up to Wanda's or Mr. Nickerson's - and yet he was a victim of circumstance. Thanks again! - Barbara>
Sandra More than 1 year ago
Kudos Barbara for another great piece. One small error though:Perfect Drift was third in the Kentucky Derby,not second. I remember this very well as I had keyed Perfect Drift in the trifecta to win and place with five longshots. Perfect Drift was capable of a :22 and change last quarter, so when they turned for home with my two 25-1 shots running first and second (War Emblem and Proud Citizen) and Perfect Drift running third, I thought I was going to hit a nice trifecta. Delahoussaye gave Perfect Drift a horrendous ride and had to check FOUR times as per the DRF charts and did not claim a foul. There was no Stewards Inquiry, either. I always though Perfect Drift deserved better than a rough trip with no one reviewing the tapes. I thought I deserved better, too as the trifecta ppaid over $18,000. Its nice to see a healthy picture of him. Thanks! < Thanks so much for the catch! I should never get information online at night - I'll make the correction now. And also, thank so much for writing. And your trifecta note made me smile - in empathy. ;) - Barbara >
Nicole More than 1 year ago
I loved Go for Wand. I got to see her run in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. I followed her career up until that fateful at the Breeder's Cup. I was eating my late lunch when I heard that she had broken down. I dropped my sandwich and ran over to the TV to see her try to continue on even with her leg as destroyed as it was. The sight broke my heart. I turned off the TV and then I broke down and cried. That scene has never left my mind. She was champion to the very end. Also thanks for the pics of Perfect Drift. I think that we all put on a few pounds as we get older. He still looks in pretty good shape. Hope to visit him one day at Churchill.
suzanne More than 1 year ago
Ha, good ol' PD! I saw him on one of his first days as a "substitute" at the Derby Museum. He had zero interest in us - until we pulled out our cameras! Then he smartened right up and struck a few poses.
Larry Loonin More than 1 year ago
I will treasure your picture of Go For Wand and the happy Randy Romero. She went down right in front of me at Belmont and unfortunately I saw her struggle to her feet in an attempt to complete the race to the wire probably only 50 feet in front of her. It was the most disturbing sight I have ever seen during my 50 years of watching races. So thank you again for that beautiful picture of them both at Gulfstream.
Paul C More than 1 year ago
I was privileged to visit Perfect Drift in the barn at Del Mar before the Pacific Classic I believe in 2006. I'll always remember him as a horse who always gave his all but often finished 2nd best. Glad to see he'll be at CDN.
sandy More than 1 year ago
keep them blogs a-comin.....almost as good as being in KY waitin on the Breeders Cup!