Smarty Jones - Hail the Conquering Hero

 The following two stories first appeared on Bloodhorse.com on May 5 and May 8, 2004

Hail the Conquering Hero

The full moon had all but faded from the morning sky, and a salmon pink sunrise was now illuminating the tan sheet-metal barns on the Philadelphia Park backstretch. Inside Barn 11, peering out of his once-familiar stall 38, was Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Smarty Jones.

That's right, Kentucky Derby winner, Philadelphia Park. To many, the two may seem as closely related as the Belle of Louisville and the Liberty Bell, but there he was, his rich chestnut coat still glistening after a grueling, unforgettable four-month odyssey.

Gone were the lush green grazing areas and airy barns of Churchill Downs. Outside Barn 11, life was as it had been back in January before he embarked on his magical journey into history. Horses ambled about connected to automatic hotwalking machines. Exercise riders and grooms went about their daily chores, their thoughts light years away from the world from which Smarty Jones had just returned.
 
The night before, at around 9 p.m., Philadelphia's conquering hero had made an entrance worthy of Julius Caesar returning from battle. With his van escorted by two Bensalem police cars, their sirens blaring, and a pair of TV helicopters that had followed him all the way from the airport hovering overhead, Smarty Jones' arrival was announced well in advance.

Philadelphia Park did all they could to make his return home as pleasant and comfortable as possible. B.J. Sasser, the construction, carpentry, and maintenance foreman, put new plywood in the colt's stall, and made sure everything possible was spotless. "We cleaned up as best we could," Sasser said. "I've been here 30 years and never even thought about having a Derby winner here. We just felt fortunate to even have one running in the damn race. Shoot, I can't even imagine what it's going to be like if he wins the next two."

Hanging outside trainer John Servis' barn were two blue and white signs (owners Roy and Pat Chapman's colors) that read, "Congratulations Smarty Jones." Painted on a large flower box resting on the ground outside the barn were the words, "Home of Smarty Jones."

Servis received the biggest surprise when he returned to his Bensalem home last night. "You come around the bend to our street, and the whole way down the development, every single mailbox has got blue and white balloons," he said. "And in front of our house is a great big sign that says, 'Congratulations Kentucky Derby Winner Smarty Jones.' I coach a little league football team, and everything was made up by the kids. There also was a big congratulatory wreath from the mayor (of Bensalem). Since I got home, it's all finally starting to sink in. I get a little emotional when I start thinking about it."

Shortly after Servis arrived Wednesday morning, Sasser and his crew began setting up a breakfast spread for the media under an awning just outside the barn, complete with coffee, danish, donuts, fruits, and juices, as well as a cake trimmed in blue with a frosted figure of Smarty Jones.

Assistant trainer Maureen Donnelly was thrilled to have Smarty Jones back home after being away from him so long. "He's pretty much the same horse that left," she said. "He looks the same as I remember him. I'm sure it was like leaving the Hilton to come back here, but this is still his home. This is where he came from. He's still so great to be around. After he won the Derby I got goose bumps, then I started crying hysterically. He's been through so much and came out of it a champ. When something like this happens it's the pinnacle of your life."

Standing outside the barn, soaking it all in was Servis' father, Joe, a former rider for 11 years, a longtime representative of the Jockey's Guild, and now a steward.
 
"When I was with the Jockeys' Guild all through the '60s, Churchill Downs was my territory, and I had access to anywhere I wanted to go," he recalled. "I've been everywhere at Churchill Downs except one place. I've never been in the winner's circle...until now. When I headed to the airport yesterday, I started to get choked up. It's just so emotional, and to have everything go so perfectly from the first of January is amazing. This horse at no time missed even a single feeding."

The elder Servis couldn't hold back the pride he felt in his son. "John has always been a very professional, kind person ever since he was a kid," he said. "He was always taught values and to always try to be around good people. Don't keep any deadbeats. If a guy don't belong in the business you gotta let him go and take your losses. He's a special person, and his mother and I are very proud of him. He has a great horse with a great demeanor, and they haven't even emptied his tank yet. The only bad thing is, they won't let me gallop him. I thought the father would have a little more pull."

For John, it was great seeing old familar faces again. He spotted one, an exercise rider known only as Shorty, who passed by the barn on a horse. "Hey, where's that crystal ball of yours? You're the man," Servis shouted.

"The guy is unbelievable," Servis explained. "Over a year ago, he stops me one day and says out of nowhere, 'You know what? I'm watchin' you, and you're gonna be in Kentucky next year.' I told him I was going to be there for the sale, and he says, 'No, no, no, I'm tellin' you, you're goin' to the Derby.' I figured he was just trying to get a mount, so I didn't think anything of it. Now, it's over a year later, and I'm thinkin' that's pretty strange."

By 7:30, members of the media began trickling in, then more showed up, and more. And finally, a massive crowd of photographers, TV camera crews, and journalists had assembled outside Barn 11.

One person to whom several flocked was exercise rider and trainer Bobby Velez, who had galloped Smarty Jones on numerous occasions, while maintaining his small string of four horses two barns down. It was Velez who was the regular exercise rider for Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck in 1985. So, here he was, 19 years later, riding another Derby winner at a Delaware Valley track. Spend a Buck had been based at the now-defunct Garden State Park, and ironically, both colts had earned huge bonuses.

"You think something like this happens only once in your life, but to have it happen twice is amazing," Velez said. "Last night when John came back, he gave me a hug and said, 'You should have gone to Oaklawn.' I said, 'You're right.' I couldn't leave my horses, but while Smarty was at Oaklawn my horses didn't do very well. They're cheap horses, but they're still my babies."

When asked to compare Smarty Jones and Spend a Buck, Velez said, "The main difference is that Spend a Buck was a little taller and easier to gallop. This horse likes to take a lot of hold. You had to use two kinds of bridles to gallop him, he was taking so much of a hold. The power you feel in him is unbelievable. One morning, he worked before his first start, with Hector Ramos on him. I happened to be on the frontside, between the eighth pole and sixteenth pole. Hector threw a cross on him, and he got very low and just took off. That day I knew he was a very special horse. Like Spend a Buck, he's one of those freaks that shows up every 15 or 20 years. And I've been very lucky to have been on two of them."

At 8:20, an announcement was made over the public address system: "Attention on the backstretch, the track will remain closed for 15 minutes from 8:30 to 8:45 to allow Smarty Jones to train."

Philadelphia Park officials had come up with the idea and approached Servis about it. "I told them I thought it was a great idea," Servis said. "You don't want anything to go wrong. It just shows you how much Philadelphia Park is loving this horse."

The track has other festivities planned this weekend, which will include visits from the mayor on Saturday, and Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell on Sunday.

With hordes of media stationed outside the barn and up the grassy hill leading to the track, Smarty Jones strolled out of Barn 11 and headed on to the track in isolated splendor. At each gap were clusters of backstretch workers out to see the Derby winner. It was a scene best described as surreal. Even families of geese sauntered up from the infield lake to the outer edge of the turf course to watch Smarty Jones go by. After walking down the backstretch, the colt had a little half-mile jog with Servis, aboard stable pony Butterscotch, alongside before heading back to the barn.
 
Servis then met with the media for at least 45 minutes, answering all questions thrown at him with candor and eloquence. He summed up his home track and his horse best by saying, "We're from Philadelphia Park, and even back to when we went to Oaklawn, it's been, 'Hey, he's a Philadelphia Park horse; how good can he be?' But he's given everybody something to grasp on to. With everything that's been happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, he's been a bright light in the midst of a lot of dark stories."

-----------

Smarty Wows ‘Em at Philly

From tots in strollers to old men in wheel chairs, Smarty Jones fans showed up at Philadelphia Park in full force Saturday morning to watch their hero gallop and receive accolades by local and state dignitaries.

An estimated crowd of over 5,000, almost double the attendance for a typical Saturday live racing card, jammed Philly Park to cheer on Smarty Jones. Traffic on Street Road backed up well before the 8 a.m. opening, and they were still piling in 30 minutes later.

Young children sat atop their father's shoulders to get a better look at this equine Rocky, some wearing Smarty Jones hats and t-shirts and others wearing Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers hats. By 8:15, the rail was lined nine and 10 deep, and the area outside the winner's circle was a mass of humanity that stretched almost to the grandstand.

Sitting in his wheel chair was octogenarian Frank Gilmore, who lives in Rhode Island and was visiting his in-laws in Yardley, Pa.. This was his first visit to Philadelphia Park.

"It's amazing the size of the crowd that has come here just to watch a horse run up and down the stretch," he said. "But he's a celebrity, and my wife and my son-in-law had to be here to see him. It's fabulous; what a great story."

As the crowd continued to grow, Philadelphia Park's Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bueau (TRPB) agent Lance Morell stood there in amazement and said, "Everytime I think I've seen everything, something else happens."

"It's hard to believe," echoed CEO Hal Handel.

Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived. As the last tractor made its way off the track following the renovation break, announcer Pat Cummings, who had been keeping the crowd informed of Smarty's whereabouts, bellowed, "And now, coming on to the track wearing a white martingale bridle and blue wraps...a horse to be immortalized as Philadelphia Park's Kentucky Derby champion...ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Smarty Jones!"

The crowd let out a roar, even though Smarty still was only a mere speck off in the distance. Then, trainer John Servis came galloping down the stretch on a pony, as if announcing the arrival of the Roman legion returning from battle. As the cheers increased, Servis waved to the crowd, then came to a stop and, like everyone else, turned his attention to the solitary figure building up steam around the far turn.

"Now, coming around the turn, and the horse looks full of run, folks, here comes Smarty Jones!" announced Cummings, his voice rising to a glorious crescendo.

Smarty Jones, as if knowing his solo act would be short and sweet, made the most of it, arching his neck in regal splendor and tearing down the track at a full gallop with exercise rider Pete Van Trump, as usual, straight up in the irons.

A wave a of cheers followed Smarty Jones down the stretch, and from those cheers came a chorus of whistles and hoots, and several "wows."

"Look at that horse," shouted a woman standing by the finish line, as if amazed by the powerful and graceful figure hurtling past her.

The second time around, Smarty was still flying down the stretch, and Servis broke off in a gallop well before the horse arrived in order to get a good head start on him. Once he caught Smarty on the clubhouse turn and reined him in, he turned around and headed back in front of the stands. Smarty, as usual, turned the switch off as soon as he knew his work was done. By the time he passed by the crowd, his head was down and he ambled by like an old cow strolling in his pasture. Servis waved to the crowd and shouted, "Thank you everybody very much."

After Servis and Smarty headed back off the track, the winner's circle ceremonies commenced. Bensalem mayor Joseph DiGirolomo presented a plaque to Donna Chapman, daughter of Smarty Jones' owners Roy and Pat Chapman.
 
"Who would ever think this could have happened," DiGirolomo said. "You talk about a people's hero, let's hear it for our people's hero."

He then presented small horse statues to jockey Stewart Elliott and Servis' wife, Sherry, who said, "On behalf of John and Servis Racing Stable and Smarty Jones, we are so fortunate to have you, Bensalem and Philadelphia, as the fans to cheer us on and be behind us. There would be nothing better to hear your roars and cheers when we win the next race, hopefully." That brought another loud ovation from the fans gathered around the winner's circle.

Also addressing the crowd were Pennsylvania State Senator, Robert "Tommy" Tomlinson (R-Pa.), State Representative Gene DiGirolomo, and Robert Green, chairman and president of Greenwood Racing, owners of Philadelphia Park.

When the festivities were over, the majority of the fans remained, milling about in the grandstand, having coffee and donuts, while others attempted to make their way through the large crowd that had converged on the merchandise stand, where Smarty Jones photos, t-shirts, and hats were a hot commodity.
 
So ended yet another surreal day in the saga of Smarty Jones. It certainly was unlike anything ever seen at Philadelphia Park, or perhaps any racetrack for that matter. The revelry continues on Sunday with a proclamation by Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, followed on Monday by the presentation of the $5-million bonus check to the Chapmans by Oaklawn president Charles Cella.

As Senator Tomlinson said after the ceremonies, "This is as good as Seabiscuit; absolutely as good as Seabiscuit."
 
There was no one at Philadelphia Park on this day who would disagree with him.


27 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Linda in Texas

When i think you cannot get any better, here you are with another one, yep, another one a little bit better.

Spiffing up his stall with new plywood!

That was priceless. But it was his home and he must have loved it.

I really enjoyed these 2 stories, just reading about him turning off his engines when the training was over. And sauntering like an old cow. He just plainly and simply loved to run flat out!

The people coming to support him was really touching, 5,000 strong.  i cannot forget that part. Great, just great. And as DiGirolomo said, he was the people's hero. And the best part for me, he is still with us.

Thank you Steve.  

21 Jun 2011 10:28 PM
The Deacon

Brilliant Steve, absolutely brilliant.

22 Jun 2011 1:41 AM
Cris

Anyone that has been on the backside of a 2nd tier track knows how much it means to the people that work there when something special comes along. If anything I hope these stories rekindle action on Smarty's statue being placed there. He proved without a doubt that people love racing and they will come out at 7am to watch them walk by if they have something to look at. How many little kids remember the day their Dad was late for work so he could take them to see Smarty Jones?

22 Jun 2011 8:43 AM
A Horsey Canuck

Steve, your writing about Smarty Jones reminds me of one of the comments in the Extended video of Secretariat's Belmont. I forget who said it, but it was, "C'mon, how good can this guy go?". Like Linda in TX said, your stories just keep getting better, and I look forward to reading the next two. Thanks so much for re-kindling such vivid memories of such a treasured fellow. Smarty's great days live on through your words.

22 Jun 2011 11:24 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Linda and Deacon. Cris, I don't think they will rekindle anythingfrom Philly Park.. Horsey Canuck, thank you for the kind words, but I'm debating whether to post the final two or three stories. There hasn't been much response to this retrospective in regard to comments and remembrances from readers. Thanks to all who did write in with your remembrances of Smarty.

22 Jun 2011 11:40 AM
Cleone

Geez, Steve.  Now I'm all choked up!  

What a wonderful experience for all the folks at Philly Park!  It reminds me of being at Hollywood Park last fall, and watching pony riders and other backstretch folks stop what they were doing to take photos - or just gawk - as Zenyatta walked by.

22 Jun 2011 11:44 AM
calico cat

Mr. Haskin,

Just because we don't respond doesn't mean we aren't reading and enjoying this trip through Smarty's Days of Glory and Fame.

Speaking for myself (and I'm sure other Haskinites) I assure you that I look forward to any article from you, either new or from the past, and that I appreciate them greatly. I just don't always have something new and intelligent to say. :)

22 Jun 2011 12:15 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

The whole story is so incredible which made the Belmont loss that much more painful. I think what grabbed me the most is how he recovered from his serious gate injury. Nothing bothered him, Smarty was a true champion in every sense. I think we loved that he was from Philly like Rocky was. Smarty felt like an underdog because of the gate injury, the poor health of Roy Chapman, and how they had reduced their stable to two horses after the murder of the the man who was supposed to have been his trainer. Undefeated and kicking butt, our first Triple Crown in 26 years seemed to be a reality in the stretch at Belmont. It looked like he might even romp again like he did in The Preakness, then seemingly out of nowhere like a cruel prank or a horror movie comes Birdsong to snatch the incredible joy from us in an instant and turn it into crushing, disbelieving terror and devastation. Can't we do it again? It can't be over. This couldn't have happened. It was a fabulous ride while it lasted but ended like a roller coaster ride at a cheap Fair that went off the track and came crashing to the ground. A bird caused the wreck but we weren't singing. We were screaming, sobbing, stunned and heartbroken. But Smarty is alive and well and remains one of our greatest champions. I vote for posting your final stories Steve.

22 Jun 2011 12:43 PM
sr

Steve,

Please continue posting these kind of stories even if the # of comments aren't what you or management hopes for.  Articles like yours are the kind of stuff new fans need to see and those of us who our regular readers love even if we don't comment. I for one ALWAYS read your blog though I rarely post a comment. Keep up the great work and keep the stories coming. A BIG THANK YOU!

22 Jun 2011 1:03 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, please do not let a small response to the stories about Smarty Jones disillusion you in their importance. We are all reading them, but the first one you published wrenched our memories and frankly our souls. How could anything else about him tweak our interests and where will we find space in our hearts to once again relive his journey?  Many many of us still have enough reserve left to handle more. I think above all else, and i speak for myself here, Smarty Jones was reality to us. We cheered and prayed and hoped and treasured his wins. We wanted so badly for him to win the Belmont, and as in our daily lives, he lost the last one and when he did we were crushed but managed to live thru it. It takes a lot of energy to relive stories like Smarty's. Some of us can handle it again and some may have a hard time because perhaps some lost their own personal races.

We, and i know i speak for all the good and faithful fans of Mr. Steve Haskin, we love your style of writing and the way you tell the stories of the great behemoths of the race tracks and we thank you for being you. In the editorial department, as far as i am concerned, the mold was broken when Mrs. Haskin's son Steve took up a pen and wrote his first story.

Thank you Steve

22 Jun 2011 1:05 PM
Linda in Texas

Cris - you are so right about the people who work on the tracks no matter their tier. They are all winners when their's win.

The other day when Rocky World won Race 5 at Belmont on the 18th,at the odds of 78-1, owned by Mr.Bud Wolf,and Rocky World was trotted into the winner's circle by the jockey Jaime Rodriguez, you could see his walker or groomer lovingly patting Rocky on his neck over and over as he held his reins.

He was simply letting Rocky know how happy and proud he was of him

because that walker or groomer was a winner also. And so was i.

22 Jun 2011 1:24 PM
Karen in Texas

Steve----As I've said before, your "grace of expression" is second to none! The way you craft your stories literally pulls the reader into the subject at hand. Perhaps the light response to the Smarty retrospective is due in part to the emotion he inspired and to the subsequent heartbreak of his Belmont loss. I, personally, cannot watch the replay to this day. We readers love your writing--please don't think otherwise!

In order to honor Smarty as he deserves, we fans could/should contact Parx Racing to show interest in the statue being displayed at Philadelphia Park. I do a lot of animal welfare work, and have seen fantastic results come from simple letter-writing campaigns. Their contact info is linked in the comments of the first story of this series.

22 Jun 2011 1:28 PM
Steve Haskin

I was just afraid posting a new story every day for an entire week on the same subject, people would lose interest. I have never done this before and wasn't sure if it would work. If there is still interest in Smarty, I will continue through the weekend. Please do not feel obligated to comment. As long as I know people are reading that's fine. I'll decide whether to tack on the Derby and Belmont recaps at the end.

22 Jun 2011 1:54 PM
sr

Steve,

I'm not sure it's a particular interest in Smarty (though his story is wonderful) as much as it is an interest in the feel-good stories of racing and your emotion provoking telling of them that have people like myself always waiting to read them. Don't worry, if your writing we're reading.

22 Jun 2011 2:20 PM
calico cat

Mr. Haskin,

With your permission, I would like to to comment on your appearance (by phone) on 'Talkin' Horses", it was a gem!!! For those of us who may have missed it, here's the link to it:

cs.bloodhorse.com/.../steve-haskin-journalist.aspx

I can listen to you for hours and I hope this will not be your only appearance on this podcast, this year.

P.S. See what threatening to not continue has brought about? A flurry of comments telling you that we are listening to the greatest "turf-story-teller" of all times. :)

22 Jun 2011 2:25 PM
Rachel NH

Are you kidding? I LOVE ♥ remembering the greats! Smarty was a true champion and I have loved every story. Sometimes silence is a greater testament to what a writer has accomplished than babbling (which is what I'm doing here so I will stop...but don't you stop!)

22 Jun 2011 2:39 PM
bellesforever

Steve..I think we all were heart broken when Smarty lost in the state of N.Y. but I know that reading your Smarty stories has lifted my spirits and remembering his incredible ride is always a good time..please carry on!

22 Jun 2011 2:50 PM
California Girl

Steve - I read EVERYTHING that you write ALWAYS! Reading about Smarty is still painful after all this time and,like Karen in Texas, I certainly can not watch the replay of his heart-breaking Belmont race.  I would really like to know what happened with Smarty's breeding career that has caused him to be on his way to South America.  Certainly he would have been extremely desirable at stud here in the U.S.  I would appreciate your response.  Thank you!

22 Jun 2011 3:03 PM
Someday Soon

Had to register today to let you know that everybody is reading about Smarty Jones, and remembering those days even though us up in Canada were watching from a long ways away back them.  I am not much of a bettor but back then I wagered $20 on a future bet because I saw the name Smarty Jones and thought that was a great name.  I then saw that he was owned/bred by Someday Farm.  My girls and I have called ourselves Someday Soon Ranch and my oldest daughter's barrel horse was named Smarty so you see I had to bet on him.  It paid $855 and change.  Since then I cannot get enough of the Triple Crown and am on bloodhorse pretty much every single day and read everyone of your stories.  You are an awesome writer Steve.  As for the Belmont, I too cannot watch a replay of that devastating race still so it will be difficult to read what you write but having said that I feel it is imperative that you write about that day.

22 Jun 2011 3:15 PM
Terlingua

Steve,  Hoping you will tack on the recaps at the end.  Although I too cannot watch Smarty's Belmont, I would really love to read anything you have to say on the subject.  He was truly a deserving Triple Crown Winner.  It is so apparent that you love what you do, and you are the best at it.  Thank you for continuing to write what you know best.

22 Jun 2011 3:34 PM
MonicaV

Steve,

I am loving this!  I have never loved a horse the way I love Smarty.  He was the most exciting thing to hit racing in years.  His story, his connections his unbelievable talent, fantastic TC.

The entire nation was behind him and he gave his all.  What a horse!

May God keep him healthy for a long time and hopefully he will pass on that unique quality that was his alone.  He was special, so very special and gave us a ride we will never forget.  I never tire of hearing about him.  I remember a quote from Bob Baffert just before the Derby..."I just saw Smarty Jones work and I think we're all in trouble".  How prophetic was that?  It was a very special year for racing and I will never forget it.  Thanks for the memories.

22 Jun 2011 3:59 PM
Karen in Texas

MonicaV----Thanks for the quote from Baffert! I had heard it slightly differently. Not sure if I heard it from a race commentator or BB himself, but it went, "I just saw Smarty Jones work and we're all running for second money." I believe he made a similar prediction about Barbaro on Derby day. Smart guy that Baffert! It is my hope that Smarty will get at least one special foal as a sire--maybe one as special as Point Given was for Thunder Gulch.

22 Jun 2011 4:45 PM
Alex'sBigFan

I'm just getting to read these Smarty stories Steve and they are priceless.  I feel like I am reliving it, it's wonderful.  I love the part where you said Julius Caesar could not have made a better entrance nor had a better reception!  Another almost TC winner.  I'll tell you there is nothing like being at Belmont Park with a Triple on the line, you can cut the tension in the air with a knife, and nothing like the letdown when it does not happen.  I remember feeling so bad for Smarty that day.  The way you write these stories Steve I feel like I am watching a movie, they are so great, don't stop here, I wish you would chronicle Smarty's Uruguay adventures -- Chapter I, Smarty & Las Senoritas!  (I just love that line, it was originated by Dr. D. not me).

I still feel that genetics take time, and the 3 or 4 years is not enough, although he has been bred with apparently as many females that would fill 7 years.  Maybe it's too much breeding too soon in too short of a time span? Alex, Smarty, Bernardini, etc. are still very young sires, no way are they proven yet, and they are not bionic with all this breeding.  Hopefully Smarty will be prolific and successful in Uruguay, although I still say it has to be hard on them shuttling.  I'm glad to hear he'll be in good hands.

Keep the Smarty stuff coming, if they do a Smarty movie Steve must write the script for sure.

22 Jun 2011 6:06 PM
Rita

Steve, I to do not post every time but you better believe the first thing I look for on Blood Horse is to see if you have written anything and be sure I'm going to read it. I love your stories of the horses of old. Even tho Smarty is fairly new I still like to read about the things that went on behind the scenes.So please don't stop writing or posting rewrites.

22 Jun 2011 6:21 PM
Dr. Patty Hogan

Steve - please don't stop sharing your wonderful writings!  By themselves, your stories about Smarty are priceless and draw the reader into a very special time and place. But I can tell you that as someone whose life and career was absolutely changed forever by a chance encounter with that wonderful horse, your stories are moving, insightful, and yes, heartbreaking.  I will never be able to watch his Belmont Stakes again but somehow Smarty has surpassed that lone defeat in his legacy with the average fan and horse-lover.  Your stories serve to illuminate so well to the reader the personality quirks, the intelligence, and the talents that made it obvious to all who knew him that Smarty was something really special and unique - please continue to share those stories with the fans (count me in as one big one).

22 Jun 2011 6:41 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, everyone for the kind words, especially you, Patty. Your words are beautiful and much appreciated. I wasn't looking for a rallying cry or anything. I just was afraid this might be overkill, with a story every day, and am happy to see people are enjoying each one. Because the Derby, which features Patty, and the Belmont are a major part of Smarty's legacy, I will conclude with both those stories, as painful as the latter might be. I tried my best to take a lot of the sting out. But I have to admit I have trouble watching that race myself, and cannot remember the last time I did watch it. But in the end, I think it became a major part of Smarty's legacy, much as Zenyatta's defeat in the Classic was.

22 Jun 2011 8:02 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Alex'sBigFan

   Nice of you to remember, I sure don't. I even said Birdsong won the Belmont instead of Birdstone. I knew it was some damn bird anyway. The Belmont experience reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe so I'm surprised I didn't call him a Raven. Still, despite the Belmont I have cherished memories of Smarty and how exciting and special his career was. I think this series of articles is great in helping me to remember the beauty of Smarty, and to not be afraid to think of him for fear of reliving the loss. I didn't do to well for a few days. I went through all of the emotions that one would go through for a death in the family. Never before or since have I reacted so intensely to the loss of a game or race. My reaction shocked me. Where did that come from???!!!

22 Jun 2011 9:32 PM

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