Today was a very exciting day for me. Jasper had his first start at Woodbine. Jasper is a great big gorgeous grey. A son of Monarchos (Kentucky Derby winner in 2001… Monarchos had the second fastest time in Derby history… Secretariat ran it 2/5 of a second faster in 1973). Jasper’s mama was, of course, the late, lamented Freckles, who is also the dam of Reno (the orphan), Monster (my beloved), Vegas (big friendly doofus), and Parker (who is only second to Monster in my heart). So really all my favorite horses are out of Freckles. And she herself was a lovely, kind, classy mare.
When I first came to work at the farm, Jasper was just a scrawny little yearling. He was on stall rest due to a broken shoulder sustained at seven days old. No foal should ever have to be on stall rest. It’s truly torturous for both the foal and the mare. He was a big, strong, handsome fellow and really would have liked to be galloping around, raising hell. Instead he and his mother were cooped up on limited feed to keep them from getting too energetic (not that it worked so well) for months. Poor Freckles must have been desperately glad to be weaned from him. And in fact, from what I hear, she walked away from him and never looked back, never called, never showed the slightest sign of distress when that big day arrived 🙂
Jasper was always a longshot to become a racehorse at all, with that broken shoulder. He was a longshot to even be sound at all. Linda, his owner, used to say, over and over, “With any luck… he’ll get through this” (as she wrote out cheque after cheque for veterinary bills). So in the end, she named him “With Any Luck”. He recovered perfectly from that injury. Then this year he ended up with EPM and was treated (thank goodness) very quickly with the super expensive stuff (Marquis) and again recovered perfectly. So apparently, Jasper does come with a little bit of luck after all.
Anyway, I spent a lot of time with Jasper as he grew up (and UP… 17+hh now!). More than with the other foals from that year (Paris and Victoria). And did quite a bit of work on his manners, leading skills, longeing, etc. So I have a bit more of a sense of connection to Jasper than to the older racehorses. Which is why I was so excited today to see him run. I went down to Woodbine to watch this afternoon, and dragged along an entire cheering section too (Brooke, Jen, and Misha). As a show of faith, I bet $20 on him to show. As a first time starter, he wasn’t expected to win. And he didn’t. But oh my goodness… he looked fabulous out there!
He is the number 11 horse, so he started from the far outside. He came out of the gate well, and looked strong all the way around. First time starters are generally green and confused about what is happening. But he looked quite steady. If you watch the video, he’s very recognizable as the only grey and with a great big wide white blaze. He ran around 3rd/4th place most of the race, and held onto 3rd place at the finish. A very good beginning to his career. The jockey was quite pleased with him and commented that he’d be happy to ride him again.
If you hear really loud yelling as they cross the finish line, that’s probably all of us jumping up and down and screaming “Go JASPER!!!” in the background. I was so proud of him, I damn near burst into tears (I don’t even want to imagine what sort of ridiculous display I’ll present when Monster finally runs… yikes). And yes, I cashed my ticket for $52 in winnings.
Here he is after the race, looking not even slightly tired. Though he was definitely very VERY hungry…