I'm happy to welcome back Sandy James as a guest blogger today.
It’s springtime again in Indiana. Of course, we had snow flurries this week, but... In the Hoosier state, you can never count on spring and warmth to co-exist. With the arrival of April comes the opening of Hoosier Park. Yes, my friends, we’re racing horses again!
I stood in the winner’s circle for the first time this season on my first trip up to Anderson. Between the eight hours I spend dazzling kids in my classrooms, the time I devote to churning out edits, and the hours of trying to add pages to my many “works in progress,” I don’t get to see my horses nearly as often as I’d like. So to have a visit to the winner’s circle on my first trip truly made the drive to Hoosier Park worthwhile. The cherry on top of the sundae was that the winning horse was Heart’s Prince – my homebred four-year-old.
I wrote about Prince the last time I blogged for Equestrian Ink. At that time, he’d finally won his first race, and I was in hopes we would have some success with him. His two-year-old season hadn’t really been much more than a few qualifiers and some less than stellar races. That first win was the beginning of his three-year-old season, which I’m happy to say was a success. He found his way into the winner’s circle three times. Most of his earning, however, came from Prince’s constantly finding himself a bridesmaid. He finished second eight times. For a horse who seemed to act like racing was the furthest thing from his equine brain, we were pleased to see him pacing so well.
Prince is a chestnut – a typical redhead. Hot temper and passionate nature. He used to be a pain both on and off the track. Luckily, he seems to have matured. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still an ass around the track. It’s one of the reasons we keep him with a trainer who stables on a farm.
The first time this season Prince was led to the track for a pari-mutuel race, he reared enough he almost unseated our driver, Jason Dillander. And in the paddock, he doesn’t exactly wait patiently for his race. But at the farm, when he’s away from the track, he’s affectionate and easier to manage. He’s also fallen in love with our trainer’s girlfriend, Renay. She’s the only one
who can keep him calm in the paddock. Prince obviously has a crush on her.
That fire inside Prince showed itself in the race I watched. The first quarter had been slow, and Prince had been parked in second, riding the pocket behind the leader. But as they approached the half, Jason took him around the leader and started to set his own pace. That move is always a big gamble that often leads to the horse being too tired to finish strong in the stretch. I think I groaned and threw a frown at my husband who sighed in return. We both feared the race would have a very unhappy ending.
As the field rounded the last turn, Prince’s lead started to dwindle as the pack, one horse especially, closed in on him. My heart sank as I figured Prince would fade. But he didn’t. In fact, when the inside horse drew eye-to-eye with him, Prince refused to let him pass. That kind of desire to win came from his parents. They were both fantastic and tenacious competitors. Prince not only held his ground, he opened up a lead again. He won by a good length.
Heavens, how I love my little chestnut. Is it any wonder I modeled Katie’s horse – Spun Gold – in Murphy’s Law after him? Speaking of Murphy’s Law, I’m pleased to say it has done well since the ebook release last month. It’s nice to know people love to read about horses. I’ve also had a couple of great reviews of the story from Night Owl Romance and Coffee Time Romance. Look for the book to appear in print in June. My May ebook release, All the Right Reasons, takes readers back to the track to reconnect with the Murphy’s Law characters and introduce some new people and new horses.
Let’s hope this season will be just as great for Heart’s Prince as the last.
Photo by Linscott Photography