Freak Show, or, My Favorite Poem of All Time

The Starry Night, by world class freak Vincent Van Gogh

On the Facebooks I like to post poems. Most often without comment, sometimes with a line or two of introduction. For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to post my favorite poem. I love it wholeheartedly. I love every syllable of it, every sentiment of it, as I discern those sentiments to be. It is a poem set in summer, so now, in the cold, cold, cold of January, it seems the right time to talk about it.

It’s nice, writing a blog post like this. All blog posts are self-indulgent. But no matter how self-centered they are, there’s something I want to share. Something I want to convey that feels important to me at the time. This, my friends, is pure self-indulgence, no agenda, no mission, and it is oddly pleasant and soothing, to wallow in such self-indulgence.

So, without further ado, my favorite poem:

The Two-Headed Calf

by Laura Gilpin

Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.

But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.

That’s it. Just four sentences. I can recite it from memory. The first time I read it, about three years ago now, maybe four, it hit me so hard it was like a physical blow to the face. It took a good twenty or so readings before the physiological symptoms left me. I can read it now without my body doing strange things, without a change in heart rate or adrenaline. But that’s more than three years into it.

For almost as long as I can remember, I have self-identified as a freak. As a coping mechanism, I learned to speak human, and I’m pretty fluent. You probably wouldn’t even know it’s not my native language. But I assure you, it isn’t my mother tongue. Before I spoke human, I spoke freak. It’s why I loved reading about The Elephant Man, why I loved Ripley’s Believe it or Not, all stories of the strange and tales from the fringes. It wasn’t my address, but it’s where I lived.

The world is ambivalent about freaks. Packaged in the right way, they’re embraced and celebrated. Turn it a hair, and they’re reviled. Especially in school. Life can look pretty bleak, especially caught in a place that rewards mainstream exceptionalism. And if ever there was a place that rewarded mainstream exceptionalism, it’s school. Indeed, school can be bleak for a freak, and there is something about bleakness that brings you up close to death. Maybe it’s because you feel like you’re not really living. In that life of not really living, you can look over the edge and see the other side, get familiar with it.

And that’s where this poem starts. With the inevitable. With death.

But it is no ordinary death. An ordinary calf would have been buried. This one will be saved, wrapped in newspaper and taken to the museum. Because make no mistake, there is no lack of egotism to the freak. Along with the oddball, misfit sense of rejection, there is also a sense of perverse superiority. If you are shunted to the side, is it because you’re worse than everybody else, or because you’re better? Freaks have a sneaking suspicion it may be the latter.

Even so, the second and final stanza hits closer to the heart of the matter. The summer evening is perfect. The perfectness of the summer evening into which he is born bestows upon the calf a benediction of perfection – despite his apparent, and massive, imperfection. His mother is there and there is a feeling that he is loved. That all is as it should be. And whenever is that the case? That everything is as it should be? For the normal, let alone the afflicted? But in this brief moment in time, it is more than simply as it should be, it is extraordinary, for when he looks into the night sky, there are twice as many stars as usual.

That, I believe, is the suspicions of freaks everywhere. That though they might be strange, and live a more brutal life than average, there is this secret benefit – they see twice as many stars. What is done with that vision varies from one end of the spectrum to the other, but at best, all those extra stars turn into works of art, scientific discovery, new philosophy. At worse, well, bad things. Those stars seen through a damaged kaleidoscope can morph into hellish visions, too often acted upon in this fallen world.

In the end, I’m really not much of a freak. Which I am more than fine with. The freakier one is, the greater the potential for good or ill. But I have enough in me than I can see it and identify with it. I certainly identify with Laura Gilpin’s “The Two-Headed Calf.” Thanks for reading my favorite poem and my thoughts on it. Your time spent on my self-indulgence is much appreciated.

Moo-Moo

Chris "Moo-Moo" Phillips and his wife Blair at St. Francis hospital in Greenville, SC.

It was somewhere between winter and spring in Anderson, SC. I was a new comic. Brand spanking new. Nick Shaheen had started up a venue in Anderson, at a place I knew pretty well, The Fox. I love The Fox. My beloved actress friend Tamara McNealy had introduced me to The Fox as the go-to hang out post plays, and it had always been a favorite place of mine. They have beautiful dark wood interior and yellow curry and a bulldog named Winston who greets the customers.

As a stand-up, The Fox has some interesting characteristics. It has a hot mic and an extra bright light in your eyes and it is the only place I’ve died on stage. (Twice, no less.) Dying on stage is pretty amazing. I highly recommend it. You’ll be pretty convinced you’re actually dying. The flop sweat, the heart rate, all that good stuff. You never feel more alive than when you feel close to death.

As a newborn comic having my near-death experiences at The Fox, I met a man named Moo-Moo. Moo-Moo is a big man, and he put pratfalls into his act. I’ll never forget the delight on Shaheen’s face as he watched Moo-Moo’s comedy. It was a magical. Moo-Moo’s comedy is unapologetic, loud, raucous. Moo-Moo the man is unfailingly kind, unfailingly encouraging, unfailingly respectful. As a new comic, maybe even especially a new female comic in the Deep South, kind comics like Moo-Moo are worth their weight in gold. You’re hanging by a thread in those first weeks, struggling and unsure, and no matter how much bravado you put out there, you want to hear somebody say they saw you, recognized your existence. Moo-Moo saw me. It meant a lot.

Months passed, I settled into the scene. I heard legends about Moo-Moo. About his past on Last Comic Standing, about another reality show from the recent past, about his time as a touring comic. Moo-Moo had a bigger than life quality to him, which is part of why it hit me hard when I heard from Nick Shaheen that Moo-Moo was in the hospital. Leukemia. No joke, hardcore chemo sort of leukemia. Shaheen and I paid Moo-Moo a visit. The spirit of the man lived on unabated. He told us about a new opportunity, a reality show with The Discovery Channel. A week later, I visited again with Tom Emmons, and heard again about all the exciting things he had waiting for him.

All he needed to do was beat cancer.

Moo-Moo is out of the hospital now. On Tuesday, he will make his debut on The Discovery Channel. A bunch of us who love and support him will be there at The Fox to watch his new show. He’s had a heck of a year. One filled with extreme highs and lows. I can relate, only Moo-Moo’s life took the intensity up to eleven.

Chris “Moo-Moo” Phillips is a force to be reckoned with. He is a man who has seen and experienced a lot, learned a lot, and has wisdom to share. I am honored to call him a friend. For all the local people reading this, I hope you join us this Tuesday at The Fox – to have a great time, to watch Moo-Moo’s show, and to celebrate everything he has accomplished as a comic, an entertainer, and as a man without any quit in him.

Movies

I get a lot of grief from my friends who comment on how many movies I haven’t seen. Thing is, I have seen a lot of movies, it’s just a big percentage of them are in black and white. Even though I am not a prolific consumer of film, I am a passionate one. The movies I love, I really, really love. So I thought I’d share some of those with you, along with why I love them. There won’t be much in the way of film appreciation here. This is personal.

1.) Silence of the Lambs changed my life. It came out in 1991. I saw it three times in the theater. It was the perfect fit for my sensibilities and just as importantly, it introduced me to the concept of screenwriting. I saw Ted Tally’s name and realized that the director and the screenwriter could be two different people. I’d wanted to be a filmmaker, except I really didn’t want to work with people. Being a screenwriter seemed like the perfect solution – lots of time spent alone, writing, but you still get to tell stories through the movies. (In junior high I was a bit of a misanthrope. Avoiding people was a key feature in my dreams for the future.)

2.) The Royal Tenenbaums makes me cry. Every time I see it. I cry when Mordecai comes back. I cry when Margot and Richie listen to The Rolling Stones in the tent together. I cry when Chaz says, “I’ve had a rough year, Dad,” and Royal replies, “I know you have, Chazzie.” But it also makes me laugh. Every scene with Pagoda. Almost every line that comes out of Royal’s mouth. For example, to the Catholic priest, “Well of course I’m half Hebrew, but the children are three quarters Mick Catholic.” Priest says, “So they were raised in the Church?” And Royal goes, “I believe so. I really don’t know.” I really don’t know why The Royal Tenenbaums works for me the way it does and I don’t really care to find out. As an additional bonus, the fact that Wes Anderson was so deeply influenced by J.D. Salinger’s stories about the Glass family led me to those novels and short stories. I am profoundly glad it did so. Franny and Zooey is the best novel about faith that I’ve ever read.

3.) The Elephant Man is my biggest influence. As a kid who was bullied a lot, I wound up strongly identifying with Joseph Merrick at a young age. I read about him a lot and I watched this movie a lot. Guys, I even dressed up as him for Halloween. It was a really good costume, too. Thing is, not only did The Elephant Man dovetail perfectly into my young psyche, but it is also an amazing piece of filmmaking by David Lynch. In the end, I don’t think any other piece of creative art has had a bigger impact on me as a writer.

4.) The Producers taught me about the joy of comedy. Young Frankenstein, too, but The Producers even more so. It also served as the common point between myself and my father as I grew up. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my dad and I were a little too alike for our own good. My dad grew up as a class clown and he was worried I was going down the same road he did when I became one, too. So in a sense, comedy was both the glue that held us together and the source of  friction. Also, because of my dad’s weird sleeping habits – namely, sleeping on the couch in the afternoon to the sounds of The Producers – I’ve seen this movie literally hundreds of times. Somehow it never gets old.

5.) The Big Lebowski for anyone who has followed this blog, you’ll know why I have special love for this movie. Here’s an explanation in case you missed it. But even without the personal connection, The Dude and Walter would have a special place in my heart. Like The Producers, it is a movie that never gets old. It also is the most quotable movie of all time, which is just so much fun. Yes, in the end, The Big Lebowski equals fun, and what’s better than that?

6.) Ghostbusters fits perfectly into the pattern of the previous two comedies. It never gets old, it’s quotable, it’s fun. But it is special to me because it was the first time I recognized that I had my own comedic sensibility. There were a couple of close-to-dirty jokes in the movie that made me laugh so hard. This was 1984, by the way. My mom, bless her heart, assumed I didn’t know what I was laughing at. As we walked back to the car in the theater parking lot, she explained the jokes to me. Suffice to say, this was the moment when I learned I was inherently more crass than my mother.

7.) The Exorcist was a movie I campaigned really hard to see at a really young age. My mom was like, “I don’t know…” and my dad was like, “Sure!” So I watched it. For someone already predisposed toward dark thoughts, The Exorcist was like throwing gasoline on a fire. Not entirely in a bad way. It made me passionately hate evil, so that’s good. It also ignited my imagination, such that I was kind of terrorized by my own mind. At the same time, it hugely shaped the writer I became, so I can’t really begrudge those years of internal terrorizing. Also, like The Elephant Man it’s an incredible work of art. I learned a lot about story from The Exorcist.

8.) The Philadelphia Story is a delight. It is a comedy of manners and mixed up relationships and nobody can play drunk better than Jimmy Stewart. There are a couple of odd scenes that haven’t aged well, but generally speaking it still fires on all cylinders. The dialogue crackles, Cary Grant is Cary Grant, and Katharine Hepburn is my patron saint of awesomeness. Later on, I learned another reason to love this movie – it was Katharine Hepburn’s baby. In getting this movie made, Hepburn blazed a trail for not only women in the movie industry, but for any individual who wanted to get a picture made their way. I love strong, smart, independent people who get things done. That spirit is reflected in the energy of the movie itself, too, even if it is a bit on the fluffy side.

9.) Casablanca is Casablanca. I remember watching it for the first time. I was in my mid-teens and I’d already decided I wanted to go into film, so I was looking into the classics. I’d watched It’s a Wonderful Life with great results, so I turned my attention to Casablanca. It was a summer night. I put in the VHS after everybody else had gone to bed. I didn’t expect much. I expected it would be boring and not live up to the hype. Ten minutes in and I was a goner. At first, I couldn’t understand the ending. I was young, didn’t get it. As I’ve grown up, I’ve developed a deeper and deeper appreciation for this story. It is everything everyone ever said it was, and more. I feel sad for people who have never seen it.

10.) Age of Innocence is, in many ways, a weird inclusion. It is, in a lot of ways, a collection of things I don’t much care for. Normally, I adore Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing. In the movie, she made a lot of very ham-handed choices. Or perhaps that was at Martin Scorcese’s request, I don’t know. I love Daniel Day-Lewis, so very much, but in this movie you can sometimes hear his English accent and he plays Archer with a sort of softness I find unappealing. Michele Pfieffer was also sort of weirdly soft and Winona Ryder is downright annoying. The entire movie is slow, the plot is repetitive, and the ending unsatisfying. The score is at times overpowering. A more hyperbolic piece of music could never be found. And yet – and yet! – I’ve always loved it. For one thing, it is a feast for the eyes. For another, it brings you so strongly into a sense of time and place. The Scorcese attention to detail is astonishing. I love the wry voice over by Joanne Woodward. Ultimately, despite everything, I buy in on the story wholeheartedly. It feels incredibly real to me. It makes me feel like I’ve spent a part of my life in The Gilded Age in New York City  and there is something very magical about that.

I could go on, but ten is plenty. Long story short – I love these movies and if there are any you haven’t seen I hope you give them a try. They’re worth a watch.

No Such Thing as Coincidence

There is a man in my life who I love very much. His name is Bond. He’s pretty unbelievably awesome, and, let’s be honest, damn handsome to boot. The man is the whole package, is what I’m trying to say. Also – a good time. If you want to have fun in Lexington, Kentucky, Bond is your man.

For a very long time, I’ve wanted to write Ani’s story. Ani is my horse, but she doesn’t have a story so much as an epic saga, a tale too big to fit in this space. Suffice to say, other horses taught me how to ride. Ani taught me about the kind of person I want to be. As much as I want to tell that story, in honor of her birthday, which is today, I am instead going to tell the story of how Ani brought Bond into my life.

When I got Ani, she was a mystery. I knew she was chestnut, I knew she was about nine, and I knew she had raced. All thoroughbred racehorses are tattoed on the underside of her upper lip, but Ani’s tattoo was blurry. It would tell us who she was if it could be read, but it couldn’t be read.

Driven to find out who Ani was, I joined the Thoroughbred Times Forum and asked questions of the posters there. Unfortunately, the people posting on the forum confirmed that wasn’t any recourse for me. Ani would remain anonymous.

In case you don't know horses, let me tell you - this is a beautifully bred mare. She is genetic quality through and through.

While the forum didn’t help me find out who Ani was, it did provide me with my first experience with people being wrong on the internet. The forum had hundreds of users and a huge number of them were wrong about a great many things. Like any sports fanatic knows, their sport of choice is extremely important and it is also extremely important to educate the people who are wrong about your sport of choice on the internet. At least it was in 2003.

As I fought passionately against the people who were wrong on the internet about my sport of choice, I found allies. One of those allies was a gentleman in Kentucky. He was equally passionate about people who were wrong on the internet. Sometimes we were on the same side, sometimes we were on opposing sides. (I hope it goes without saying that the forum quickly devolved into not just fighting about horse racing, but also fighting about politics, religion and other topics that weren’t as important as our sport of choice.) The gentleman in Kentucky and I were far apart on politics, but close on religion and close on horse racing, and two out of three ain’t bad. More importantly, he was smart and fair and funny.

Months went by. Ani moved from Greenville to Clemson, where she got a new vet. Dr. Stafford was a racetrack veteran. My long dormant hope percolated to the surface as I explained to him about the impossible to read tattoo, the tattoo that countless vets, friends, farriers, trainers and thoroughbred experts had proclaimed completely illegible. Dr. Stafford said, “Let’s bring her out into the sunshine.” We left the barn, he lifted her head, raised her upper lip, and as casually as you please, rattled off the letter and number that would identify Ani.

Thrilled, I sent off the paperwork to the Jockey Club. Yet more time passed. Finally, finally, finally, the packet arrived. Ani was actually Nellie Weathers. Her bloodlines blew me away. First and foremost, Ani was/is a living dinosaur. Horses foaled in 1993 just don’t have Double Jay as their grandsire, Double Jay being the champion colt of 1946. This gave me a feeling of kinship with Ani, as I am also a genetic dinosaur. My great-grandfather was born in the 18th Century. And no, that’s not a typo. I’m talking the 1700’s, y’all.

So, who bred this fascinating, beautiful and ridiculously athletic horse? Someone named Mrs. William C. Jacobs. Mrs. Jacobs had a horse in the Kentucky Derby in the 1960’s and that’s all I could learn about her. Given that most people don’t have a Kentucky Derby runner until they’re middle-aged or older (usually older) I figured she was dead by this point. I went again to the Thoroughbred Times Forum, this time counting on disappointment.

“Does anyone know anything about someone named Mrs. William C. Jacobs?” I wrote. “She’s dead now, but she had a Derby runner back in the day. She bred my horse, so I’m looking for information about her.”

I immediately got several messages from my favorite gentleman in Kentucky. “EMAIL ME,” he wrote. “SERIOUSLY. EMAIL ME RIGHT NOW.”

That day I wound up talking to Bond on the phone for the first time.

Mrs. William C. Jacobs was his mother and he was quite surprised to learn she was dead, given he’d had dinner with her the night before.

Moreover, although it was her name on the paperwork, it was in fact Bond himself who had decided to send Cour de Perse to Honey Jay, thereby creating the red chestnut mare I call Ani.

33,822 thoroughbred foals were born in 1993. Of the hundreds of users on the forum only a couple of them were breeders.

I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe that if we listen to the music of the spheres we can sometimes catch the rhythm and dance along in time. When we do, the world opens up and puts us where we’re meant to be. Ani has helped me find the rhythm many times over the last ten years. Who knows where she’ll take me over the next ten. God knows, with her dinosaur genetics, the horse is going to live to, like, thirty-five.

Derby 2012: Your Handy Dandy Guide: Part II – The West Coast

Is that a long enough blog post title for you? I hope so.

Word on the street is that Bodemeister is kind of an idiot.

So, the West Coast! Bob Baffert has a loaded hand this year, but in my opinion only one of his many Derby prospects is worth discussing, and that’s Bodemeister. DEAR LORD, you say, THAT’S A HORRIBLE NAME! Yes, yes it is. This poor colt is named after Baffert’s youngest son Bode, who in turn is named after the Olympic downhill skier. Bodemeister is also owned by my least favorite owner in the business, Ahmed Zayat. (If you want to read an earlier rant about Zayat, go here.) As an additional karma impediment, you have Mike Smith agreeing to ride a longshot in the Derby (my favorite longshot, in fact) and then reneging in order to ride Bodemeister. Also, Giacomo aside, it’s always been my feeling that Mike Smith and the Derby just don’t get along very well. Kind of like Pat Day, who did eventually get a win on Lil E. Tee. Which just goes to show, horribly named horses DO win the Derby sometimes. So, why talk about Bodemeister at all? Because he did this in the Arkansas Derby.  He didn’t just beat that field, he destroyed it. And while it can be argued he wasn’t facing the cream of the crop, he carved out steep fractions and then closed well. You also have the following paradox – rarely do horses win by open lengths in the final prep then win the Derby. However, for a front running sort like Bodemeister, that trend actually reverses. Winning Colors and War Emblem, for two examples, were front runners who won their final prep by open lengths. So, is it a good thing or a bad thing that Bodemeister won so impressively? A case can be made either way. Interestingly, Bodemeister, who is bred for the distance, has been loving the Churchill surface in his work outs leading up to the Derby. Some horses hate Churchill, so this is an important consideration.

You can’t talk about the West Coast without talking about Creative Cause. The stalwart gray has danced every dance, finishing third in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile to Hansen and Union Rags. The thing about the Creative Cause is that unlike his tenacious sire, Giant’s Causeway, he doesn’t seem to like a dogfight. When the chips are down, Creative Cause seems to say, “Ehh…I think you want it more…” Out of eight starts, he’s won four, finished second twice, and third twice. And he’s never far behind even when he loses. But this is a horse worth mentioning, as he’s very talented, has a tremendous foundation in him, and figures to be right there at the finish. I’m just expecting him to get second or third.

Doesn't I'll Have Another have a beautiful eye? So intelligent!

Now, onto my favorite West Coast horse – I’ll Have Another. This beautiful chestnut presents an intriguing picture. Firstly, no horse in the Kentucky Derby is better bred for distance than this guy. His bloodlines are a who’s who of classy stamina. If he doesn’t win the Derby (and stays sound) the Belmont is right up his alley. Secondly, this horse strikes me as super intelligent. Just the way he carries himself, his expression while racing – I get the feeling that this horse knows his job very, very well, which is surprising, as he is so lightly raced. But in the Robert Lewis stakes, where he was 43-1, he won by daylight and did so with his ears pricking. In the Santa Anita Derby, he had to run down the tough Creative Cause, and did so with his ears flat back, his expression pure grit and determination. He’s a big, pretty, grand looking chestnut, and he is loved to death by his jockey, the complete unknown Mario Guiterrez. Mario came to the tough Southern California racing circuit having ridden some in Vancouver, Canada, which means less than nothing to the sharks in Cali. Mario was barely getting by, just galloping horses, when owner Paul J. Reddam saw him. He said to his trainer, Doug O’Neill, that he liked the looks of Mario, and if they ever got in trouble maybe they could use him. Well, Mario got a chance to gallop I’ll Have Another, and he was blown away. His enthusiasm for the horse helped convince O’Neill to take a chance in the Robert Lewis Stakes, and when they couldn’t get top jock Rafael Bejarano to ride, Mario got the mount. Happily, Mario retained the mount in the Santa Anita Derby, and piloted him perfectly to the win. Mario’s joy after the race, and his love for this horse, was something to see. Also filled with joy were the hundreds of friends the owner brought to Santa Anita. This horse isn’t named “I’ll Have Another” for no good reason. Reddam brought six buses of friends to the track. Remarkably, I’ll Have Another the horse handled the drunken winner’s circle craziness like a champ. He’s a smart horse, as I said before.

So, what are the downsides, here? Well, for one thing there’s a reason he’s so lightly raced, and that reason probably has to do with soundness. He recently experienced tight back muscles after a work out, and underwent shockwave therapy to ease the tension. Additionally, he’s doing all of his prep in California. 18 of the last 20 Derby winners have prepped at Churchill Downs. Finally, O’Neill, the trainer, is not known for his success outside California. He trained the famous Lava Man, and had notoriously struggled to duplicate that horse’s success outside his home turf. (Interestingly, the now retired Lava Man acts as I’ll Have Another’s pony, and leads I’ll Have Another to the gate on racedays. Apparently, the two horses get along very well.) Obviously, I have a lot of love for this horse, but he’s definitely up against it for a few reasons on Derby day. Here is his Santa Anita Derby win. Please watch Mario’s reaction afterward!

Daddy Nose Best is a fierce competitor.

Rounding out my highlighted West Coasters is the tragically named Daddy Nose Best. Who comes up with these names? Seriously? Who took this big, beautiful, bay horse and gave him this name? Anyway. Remember the longshot Mike Smith abandoned in order to ride Bodemeister? This is the horse. Now, for the record, Daddy Nose Best has been ridden by Julian Leparoux, who will stick with Union Rags for the Derby. Mike Smith had never even been on the horse when he punked out. Luckily, Garret Gomez snatched up the ride, which I think is for the best. Garret, imo, is a better rider than Mike, and Garret has made a lot of noise about how he wouldn’t trade horses with anybody. I can see why. Daddy Nose Best, unlike Creative Cause, is willing and able to win in a dogfight. By the way, Garret is leaving nothing to chance, and is getting to know the colt by riding him in his preparatory work at Churchill Downs. The Derby will be their first race together, but he’ll know the horse by then.

Daddy Nose Best is out of a mare named Follow Your Bliss. My parents used to say that to us a lot growing up, and so the mare’s name has special meaning to me. Moreover, she lives in Camden, South Carolina. Her sire, Thunder Gulch, won both the Derby and the Belmont, so there’s a lot of distance blood in her. Daddy Nose Best was purchased for only $35,000, and considering he’s already banked over half a million, it’s looking like a pretty good deal. He won both the El Camino Real Derby in Northern California and the Sunland Derby in New Mexico, both wins coming after intense dogfights. Now, these are not exactly racing meccas, and this is why he will be a longshot on Derby day.

I also really liked this pic of my favorite longshot.

Daddy Nose Best is trained by Steve Assmussen, who I just don’t get. I think he mishandled the ever living holy heck out of Rachel Alexandra, and I don’t understand why people think he’s so great. He certainly floundered around a lot with this horse, starting him sprinting, then trying him on dirt, turf and synthetics. On the plus side, the horse is sound as a dollar and tough as nails.  He’s had more races than anybody else in the field, and he’s finally found his groove going long on dirt.  Steve has said Daddy Nose Best is a smart horse who likes to take in his surroundings and is very consistent. “He never has bad days,” according to Steve. He’s definitely been training well at Churchill. To get a sense of Daddy Nose Best’s commitment to the win, check out his El Camino Real Derby win.