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Decisions, decisions…

The View

Usually as a big sporting event approaches you have some idea who you’re going to be cheering for. You have your favourite team, or player, and you support them until the end. Even when it’s all futile, like with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maybe you have a least favourite team or player, and you just like to see them lose (Tom Brady anyone?).

Personally, if I sit down in front of a college basketball or football game, with no rooting interest at all, within a few minutes I’ve found that I’ve picked a side to cheer for - pretty much for reasons unknown.

Sometimes the choice is just plain easy - like with the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals.

Sometimes the choice is just plain hard - the case for me in this year’s North America Cup.

Most of the time when it comes to your rooting choice in a horse race, you pull for the horse that you’ve bet. Or for the horse of a friend or family member. Usually it’s pretty simple. This year, for me, it was simple at first - Captain Crunch was it. I knew he was a monster coming into the eliminations. I knew that he got spooked by the shadow of the moving starting gate in that elim, and that wouldn’t happen again in the final, which would go to post after dark. This was easy. But wait.

I already knew some of the connections of this year’s 10 finalists, going in to the week, but beginning on Tuesday morning, when we started visiting farms and training centres to chat with people, meet the horses, and get some photos, things started to get tough. And even though I didn’t meet someone from every horse during the week, things kept getting cloudier. What a great bunch of people and horses that had reached the $1,000,000 final this year. And everybody has a story...

Seriously, how do you not cheer for a $6,500 yearling from an unraced sire and unraced dam? (#1 - Aflame Hanover).

How do you not cheer for a horse whose second trainer took a fall so bad in late December, that in the words of his boss, “The man should be dead,”? (#2 - De Los Cielos Deo).

How do you not cheer for a horse whose assistant trainer in Canada is an absolute sweetheart of a person, and who, along with her partner lost their stable in a tragic barn fire just a few years ago? (#3 - Bettors Wish).

How do you not cheer for a horse whose trainer drove to Mohawk and back, all the way from Ohio, just to be present at the draw? (#4 - Workin Ona Mystery).

How do you not cheer for a horse who was bred by the farm that also bred his famous father - a farm whose owner and farm manager both tragically passed away before they could see the progeny of their star pupil reach age three? (#5 - Captain Victorious).

Are you starting to see my dilemma?

How do you not cheer for a horse whose part-owner learned a lot of what he knows about racing and pedigrees, years ago, while reading books, in an effort to keep his mind off of his fight with cancer and his chemotherapy treatments? (#6 - Tyga Hanover).

How do you not cheer for a horse whose owners, along with their daughter, run a charity that digs wells at schools in Africa, so the children there have food to eat? (#7 - Best In Show).

How do you not cheer for a horse whose trainer is a super-friendly young lady who has lived in the shadow of her Hall of Fame father, and is trying to win the only big race that her dad never won? (#8 - Captain Crunch).

How do you not cheer for a horse that is trained and partially owned by the man that trained the sire, the dam, and the sister, to his newest star pupil? (#9 - Hurrikane Emperor).

How do you not cheer for the horse whose caretaker isn’t from a racing background, but is a person who has worked hard to learn the business, and at a young age now rubs on some of the best horses in North America? (#10 - Stag Party).

I know what the moral of the story is here: our business is full of great people and amazing animals, and our team here at TROT has the honour to try and capture their stories as best we can. I hope we’ve achieved that here for you, in the preceding pages.

Full disclosure: In the end I would have been happy, regardless of who won, but since I bet him, I just “might” have cheered for Captain Crunch a little harder than the others. $10.30 to win? You’re kidding me, right?

Dan Fisher, Managing Director
[email protected]

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