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A Name That’s Missing from our North America Cup Spring Book Odds

The View

When I tell people from outside of our business, what it was like to train racehorses for a living, for the years that I did, I often tell them this:

"Imagine working at least 70 hours/week, at a very physically demanding job, where you wrestle with 1,100 pound animals, throw bales of hay, carry lots of water buckets and heavy bags of feed, while working mainly outside, in weather anywhere between +35 degrees and -25 degrees Celsius."

They often reply with something along the lines of, "Wow, that sounds difficult."

Then I usually say something like, "Yes, it is. But as physically demanding as that sounds, it's a MUCH tougher profession, mentally."

Of course, most nod in agreement, or amazement. Some just take your word for it. Others ask for examples - of which I have many. But until you live it, as many of you reading this know, it's truly impossible to explain.

Like getting home at 1 am, cold, dirty and exhausted, after a 16-hour workday, and sitting in your truck realizing that not only did you not make any money that day, but after expenses you probably lost about $300.

Or when a few days after turning down a six-figure offer on a horse you own and train, you walk into the barn and find that she has a bowed tendon.

Of course there are many wonderful things that happen in our sport as well, and that's what keeps us all dreaming-the-dream. But recently I learned of one of those incidents that reminded me exactly how tough we have to be, mentally, to persevere in this game.

I was in the Mohawk paddock on the morning of Saturday, March 10, helping my friend and trainer, Shane Arsenault train some trotting colts that my family members and I own small pieces of. It was a beautiful sunny winter morning, and I was just happy to be back in the jogger for a few hours of training colts. That's when the news buzzed through the paddock that Rob Fellows' two-year-old OSS Super Final Champion, Keystone Concrete, had just passed away while out on the track. As my thoughts immediately went to Rob, I felt devastated for him.

Now three, and recently paid into races such as the N.A. Cup and the Breeders Crown, this was the kind of horse a guy like Rob had been waiting a long time for. Don't get me wrong, with 1,319 training wins, and just shy of $20 million in career purse earnings, Rob has had a better career than most. And he's had some very nice horses along the way - millionaire Hyperion Hanover quickly comes to mind, for one. But this colt looked like a legitimate Cup contender, having never missed the top-two in seven starts as a freshman, earning $214,850, and defeating the likes of Stag Party, Bettors Wish, and Bronx Seelster in the year-end OSS Championship.

But that dream is gone for now, and there's no doubt that it's something that has tested, to say the least, Rob's mental toughness. But I know Rob, and I know that this is a test that he, like many horsepeople, will pass with flying colours. Because that's who we are.

In case you don't know him, Rob Fellows is the guy who, if you're down on your luck a bit, will ship your horse in to the races for free, because, "I was going in anyway."

Rob Fellows is the guy that attends a fundraiser for a sick horseperson, wins $400 in the 50-50 draw, and hands it directly to the child of his ailing friend - providing a happy moment in an impossible situation.

Rob Fellows is the guy that will talk to you for hours, trying to solve racing's problems, because he truly loves the sport and wants it to prosper, for his son Kyle, and for everyone else following in his footsteps.

That is Rob Fellows. And that's why he'll pass this test. Because he is one of us, and if he struggles at all, he knows that we'll have his back. Just as he would for us.

Dan Fisher
[email protected]

This article originally appeared in the April issue of TROT Magazine.
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