The project horse is set to make her debut for our small stable tomorrow. It has been a little over a month since she was drafted to play for team Last Move Racing, and she arrived with more baggage than Delta. Tiz Taken Back, or Tizzie as we call her (we may live to regret that moniker) will run rain or shine at Belterra in Cincinnati. Let me qualify that statement with “If she doesn’t get sick.”
It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that sickness is running amuck at our training facility right now, likely brought in by 10 horses that recently shipped in from Indiana Grand which, rumor has it, is the source of the creeping crud. The Quirkle, as well as Tizzie’s other next-door neighbor has succumbed, and we are holding our collective breath and Jerry is taking her temperature hourly—just in case.
We are also keeping an eye to the sky with the sinking feeling that there are two chances Tiz’s race will remain on the grass tomorrow…Slim and None. And Slim left town. (A Bob Wylie-ism from back in the day.) Which stinks on ice, as the hope was that turf would move this filly up to the caliber of the price tag of this race. But grass or no, on or off, barring sickness she will remain a contender because sometimes a gal just needs to run.
Tiz was entered shortly after we bought her, and the oddsmakers made her the morning line favorite. The running joke in our household was then certainly Shon will scratch—she just cannot handle the pressure of such high expectations. Lol. It is true—I am much more comfortable when my horse goes postward with odds somewhere in the 10-1 range. Meaning, to my mind anyway, that there are doubts in the minds of many, and won’t it be a wonderful surprise for those bettors of great faith when my horse overcomes those odds to push his nose across that finish line first? (Cue the Rocky theme in the background.) And scratch we did that day, but it was not odds-related.
We entered back at Indiana Grand, but found ourselves number 14 on the also-eligibles list, so that race was a no-go as well.
It was all for the best, however, as we wanted a little more time to assess and get to know Tiz. She’s an odd bird, to be sure. She was thin as a rail, despite eating like, well, a horse. We’ve worked on the underlying causes of her skinny-ness, and sure enough she has begun brightening in attitude. She seems to feel better with each passing day.
Her training issues are another story. Her problem may be as simple as a dislike of oval workspaces. At least that is all I can come up with at this point, because Tiz is an incredibly easy-going Thoroughbred filly, which is pretty rare. Sweet, kind and lovable, it is only on the way to and while actually on the track that she Jekyll-Hydes it. She will tolerate nothing less than an entourage of humans on foot walking alongside from barn to track, which seems to be her security blanket. And the customary ‘backing up’—or jogging clockwise once around the track as a means of warming up—well, that just Ain’t. Gonna. Happen. Lol.
It makes Jerry insane, because “We have procedures that we follow.” And we follow them because we care about the soundness and conditioning of our horses, and the methods are tried and true.
I, on the other hand, tend to give critters more of a say in their daily routines. Some battles don’t need to be fought, I contend, because the fight could do more harm than good. If the desired end can be accomplished through other means, I’m down with that. Something in her past has caused these issues, and I am confident that we will eventually work through them.
So I am asking for your prayers. You can pray for Tiz and her safety and for my sanity and for us all to remain calm, cool and collected. You can even pray for this race to stay on the grass, if it is safe to remain there. And please, PLEASE pray for the safety and well-being of all the horses and riders—as Bob Wylie used to tell each and every jockey as he legged them up onto the horse—“Above all, you and the horse come back safe.” There is only one thing that we never, EVER pray for, and that is a win. Because I control nothing and God controls everything and He knows the needs of every participant in that race. My prayer is that He will bless the one whose needs are the greatest, and that God will use that win to draw those connections closer to Him.