Here at the Castle, we use our Derby glasses a lot. I'm rather fond of using them for gin and tonics, while the King prefers one for his whiskey, neat. Sometimes, I'll fill one up with diet Dr. Pepper; it tastes better encased in the names of some winning three-year-olds. Heck, I even use 'em for low-fat vanilla soymilk now and then.
Oh, be still, hearts of julep glass collectors. I'm talking about momentos from the big race in these parts, the West Virginia Derby. Though my glasses aren't worth a hill of beans on ebay, for me, they are valuable reminders of a fine summer day's racing. Holding one, scanning through the names of the 28 colts, 7 geldings, and 3 fillies whose names grace my little souvenir, I'm suddenly at a picnic table near the finish line, winning ticket in my hand. Little matter that there's no Triple Crown winner listed here; these horses came to this small market track -- and ran for us. The least I can do is read their names now and then, and wonder what they're doing now. Sir Shackleton, the 2004 winner is at stud after earning more than a million on the track. Real Dandy, the 2005 winner, recently won the $50,000 Curribot at Sunland.
And last year's winner, Bright One? Over the weekend, he ran in the $225,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship Handicap:
Breaking well for regular rider John Velazquez, Half Ours led for most of the opening quarter mile before settling into second on the outside of Bright One, who set a fast pace under pressure of :21 3/5 and :43 3/5. Half Ours took over at the head of the lane and opened a clear advantage inside the eighth pole as his pace rivals Bright One, Mach Ride and Diabolical gave way....Oh.
Bright One, who finished fourth, broke down and was vanned off following the race. According to the Daily Racing Form, Bright One broke the sesamoid bone in his left foreleg and had to be euthanized. --bloodhorse.com
So, now, as I sit here sipping watered down Jameson's in my Derby glass, I'm remembering how fine Bright One looked in the paddock last August.(See for yourself at The $2 Window.) I'm remembering how lively and festive our little old West Virginny track felt that day. I'm remembering how sweet it was to watch him lead wire-to-wire.
And I'm finding it terribly sad that he died before his name was engraved on a glass.
Here's to you, Bright One. Thanks for the memories.