Man, if I had a quarter for every time one of my clients laughed “Well, I guess you really are here to stay!” or “I see you never plan on moving again” when they write a check made out to Last Move Farm I’d be “farting in silk,” to quote my late father-in-law.
Most times I just laugh along, but sometimes, if I’m not pressed for time, I will tell them that remaining stationary has nothing to do with the name of our farm. In fact, we are now on our second Last Move Farm, having moved here in 1997 from a farm of the same name in Northern Kentucky. Maybe there will be a third. Or more likely, there will be a Casa de Last Move on the beach in Belize, if I have my way. (Comes with a monkey? SOLD! Lol.)
It was a cold, nasty winter night at Turfway Park and probably the last race or close to it. I was slogging to the paddock through the mucky mire, accompanied by a Thoroughbred named Last Move. Stable name: Pokey. He was sort of the family horse, belonging officially to the aforementioned father-in-law Bob Wylie, but for the winter under the care and control of Jerry while Bob was in Florida. Lucky him. (Bob, not Pokey.) Whomever was paying the feed bill got to keep the winnings, if there were any winnings to be had. To date, they were zip. Zilch. Nada.
While on the way to the saddling area, by way of conversation, I worked in a few pleas to actually “put a little effort into this race, Pokey. We could use a little boost in the bank account.” We had been married less than six months, and had recently decided it was time to really settle down, which meant buying a farm of our own. “In fact, Pokey, I’ll make you a deal. If you can find it in your heart to help us out, we will make sure you get the recognition you deserve!” I found myself promising.
I had heard all the stories about Pokey’s legendary come-from-behind running style, but you sure couldn’t prove any of it by my personal experience. His recent race record had been fairly underwhelming, which is why Mr. Last Move didn’t make a bold move south to Florida with all the promising young stock Bob shipped down to be started over the winter.
“When Pokey feels like running, look out!” Bob told me on more than one occasion. “He’ll drop back, get a good look at everybody in front of him, and hit the gas! Once he starts rollin’, he’ll pass ‘em all like they’re tied to a post!”
Um, ok. Sure. That would be awesome, but I’m not holding my breath because all I had experienced of the scenario above was the dropping back part. And then he stayed there.
In the paddock, Jerry tacked Pokey up and sent the horse and the jockey on their merry way, as I felt my wet feet beginning to go numb and wished I had been smart enough to wear something other than gym shoes to run a horse on a wet January night.
The post parade/warmup was short (I mean, you could have fired a cannon through the grandstand and hit no one, so sparse was the crowd) and the horses entered and exited the starting gate post haste. True to form, Last Move (as if he was contractually obligated to live up to his name) sucked himself back to last in the field. It was as if he relished feel of the slop stinging his face, effectively covering every inch of him from his forelock to his chest. No doubt we would be digging the stuff out of his ears and flushing it out of his eyes for a few days. He slogged along, bringing up the rear for probably ¾ of a mile.
And then it happened! Whatever had to click in Pokey’s head (or heart) did so, and he found another gear. Was it my pep talk? I don’t know, but he bobbed and weaved his way around and through his fellow competitors, overtaking the final one just before hitting the wire.
I’m sure I was a little slack-jawed as I looked over at Bob, up from Florida for a brief visit.
“Yep,” said Bob, nodding his head. “I never get tired of seeing that.”
I think I could get used to witnessing that repeatedly as well, I thought. And as it turned out, I got the chance to get used to it. Several back-to-back wins later, we had our little starter farm, complete with a ramshackle farmhouse (that had a brand new kitchen and bathroom, courtesy of Pokey) and a baby on the way. And since I try really, REALLY hard not to break my promises to my equine friends, both our first farm and our current farm proudly carry Last Move’s name.
Side note: before you look at the win picture and think that that is the ugliest female jockey ever, please note that it is Freddie Delaguardia in the irons, not Mary Ellen Hickey. Lol