Horse racing is a business. I know this. And yet, I had an upswell of irrational sadness when I saw that one of my all time favorite racemares, Blind Luck, was going through the sales ring again. That sadness turned to anger when I watched the attached video of a potential buyer, unseen on camera, telling the groom to walk Blind Luck down and back. (You have to scroll to the bottom of the article to get to the video.) I didn’t like the woman’s tone of voice, for one thing. And for another thing, in my world order, Blind Luck outranks her. Blind Luck should be telling that woman to walk down and back, not the other way around.
Thing is, everybody in racing knows exactly who and what Blind Luck is. She isn’t pretty. Everybody knows it. She’s bandy-legged and croup high and the more you look the more you can find wrong with her. You know what else everybody should know? It doesn’t freaking matter. She won 3.2 million on the track, including the Kentucky Oaks, and was as dead game as a racehorse can get. Blind Luck wasn’t fancily bred, wasn’t trained by Pletcher or owned by Godolphin, she was a working racehorse – and man, did she work. As a two-year-old, she showed a freaky turn of foot, but myself and many others were just waiting for those bandy legs to give out – they never did. She went from synthetics to dirt without a hitch, and her trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer danced every dance with that mare. Blind Luck traveled the country, criss-crossing back and forth to face the nation’s best horses on their home turf. A small, wiry mare, her weight never changed, nor did her attitude. Blind Luck was a warrior.
This is Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks, doing what she always did – dropping back to dead last before making a furious last minute rally. Not even her jockey knew if he’d won the race. Blind Luck like to keep things exciting and unlike the great Zenyatta, she didn’t always win. It’s extremely hard for come from behind horses to keep perfect records. And, let’s be honest, Zenyatta benefitted from a far less taxing schedule. The goal wasn’t to keep Blind Luck’s record perfect, the goal was to pick up checks.
Of all of Blind Luck’s exploits on the track, perhaps most memorable was her rivalry with eventual Horse of the Year Havre de Grace. Here they are dueling down the stretch in the Delaware Oaks. Havre de Grace was the opposite, in many ways, from her scrappy little opponent. Havre de Grace was big, beautiful, correct, a stunning bay mare based in the east and afforded automatic respect from the racing community. Blind Luck didn’t know any of that.
Although Blind Luck compiled an impressive record of wins, her triumph in the Alabama was, in my opinion, her greatest. The slower the pace up front, the harder it is for come from behind horses to win. In the Alabama, they were just about walking, but Blind Luck was, as always, last headed into the final turn. For her to close into that slow pace and still pull of the win is a profoundly difficult task for any racehorse – let alone an undersized, bandylegged croup-high mare.
I have to include one more race. This is Blind Luck closing out her two year old year in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet against a bunch of top fillies. She made them look ordinary that day. A quick maturing filly, in this race you can already see some of the hallmarks that made Blind Luck so special. She ran with her head and tail up, something rare in racehorses. But that mare knew exactly how awesome she was, and what better way to let everybody else know, too? She was born confident. She was born knowing she was great.
She also knew when she was done. After twenty-two races against the toughest competition and thousands upon thousands of miles of travel, one day Blind Lucky retired herself. Entered into the Lady’s Secret Stakes, Blind Luck had other ideas, cantering along, out of touch with the field and staying that way around the track. Extensive tests showed nothing was wrong with Blind Luck. She was just done. It was the first time she’d ever finished worse than third in her career. She was sent to the sales ring and became a broodmare.
I haven’t seen her babies. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were incorrect and it also wouldn’t surprise me if they failed to inherit their mother’s ability. Blind Luck was a freak. All the same, I wish she had an owner who loved her so much she would never be sold. Somebody who would bring her peppermints and tell her how special she is. They are other racehorses who’ve won millions of dollars, have similar race records to Blind Luck’s, but she is unique and deserves to be treated like the rare queen she is.
Which is why that video bothered me. It’s just the horse racing business, I know. But Blind Luck isn’t just another horse.