Updated on 09/17/2011 5:48PM

Proctor tries for another shocker


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Tom Proctor has the best laugh in racing, a big, hearty, down-home Texas laugh. It was in full force at the 1994 Breeders' Cup. That whole week at Churchill Downs, Proctor and his buddy, trainer Steve Reiser, had their own little comedy act going, and woe to those who fell victim.

Most notable was the Midwest reporter who somehow confused Reiser with trainer Fordell Fierce. With Proctor within earshot, Reiser happily conducted the interview, never letting on that he was not Fierce, while occasionally making a pejorative comment about Proctor. The boys got a great chuckle out of that.

Proctor had an outsider in that year's Distaff, the mare One Dreamer. She was competing against highly regarded fillies like Heavenly Prize, Hollywood Wildcat, and Sky Beauty. All week, reporters trudged past Proctor's barn, barely noticing him.

"Don't you want to interview me?" he would jokingly plead. He had few takers.

But Proctor had the last laugh. One Dreamer scored a 47-1 upset in the Distaff.

Now, a decade later, Proctor, 48, is back in the Breeders' Cup. In the Distaff. With a decided longshot. But while Proctor was quietly confident that One Dreamer had an upset chance in 1994, he knows Indy Groove has a tall order in this year's $2 million Distaff next Saturday at Lone Star Park.

Indy Groove last month earned her first stakes victory, in the Autumn Leaves at Mountaineer. She was third and eighth in her only graded stakes performances this year.

"I thought One Dreamer would run good," Proctor said at Lone Star Park. "I thought she'd at least hit the board. She liked Churchill. She'd run well there. And we were stabled there. This filly, the main thing is she's doing good. That's better than having one you're trying to nurse along.

"I think she'll run good. The question is whether she's fast enough. If Azeri runs in our race, we'll be going up against one of the top mares of our lifetime. Personal Ensign, Ruffian, Winning Colors -- I'd put her in that class."

One Dreamer is heretofore the only Breeders' Cup starter for Proctor. Asked if it was the biggest win of his life, Proctor demurred. "No, it was when I married Laura," he said, referring to his wife.

"It's the biggest Thoroughbred horse race I've ever won," Proctor said. "When she hit the wire, I've never jumped so high in my life. I probably could have dunked a basketball." He laughed, an acknowledgment that his bulky physique makes that unlikely.

"On the turn, when she started pulling away, I thought, 'Well, at least she'll run good.' At the sixteenth pole, I held my breath. And when they hit the wire, people probably thought I was crazy," Proctor said.

Proctor was born a few hours east of here in Gilmer, Texas, so participating in a Breeders' Cup marks a sort of homecoming. His late father, the respected trainer Willard Proctor, had roots in Texas racing that went back to the 1930's, before racing was outlawed here for decades.

Proctor found some old photos of his father at the now-defunct tracks Arlington Downs, Alamo Downs, and Midland, and brought them to Lone Star this week, where they are displayed in the racing office.

"Anything we did started with him," Proctor said. "Dad always said you work all your life to run in the feature race on Saturday, so no matter what happens Saturday, we're going to enjoy it."

* In another Distaff development, Tyler Baze has picked up the mount on Hollywood Story, trainer John Shirreffs said.