Pataky Kid wins the Arlington-Washington Futurity (Four Footed Fotos)
LEXINGTON, Ky.—Now it just so happens in the summer of 2012, when good young Thoroughbreds commence to emerge upon the juvenile scene, that one runner flashes across the radar of a certain horseplayer.
This in itself is not unusual for the player, who finds himself frequently attuned to comings and goings of an equine nature at his home track of Arlington Park. The circumstances leading to this fortuitous alignment, however, are of an unusual sort.
The horse is what you would call a hunch bet, the kind which is known for one sure thing—if you do not place upon this horse some kind of wager (as all of nature's signs combine to indicate you should), said runner is as close to a guaranteed winner as a racehorse gets in this life, by the simple occurrence of Murphy's Law.
Pataky the horseplayer, a guy in the know
The horseplayer, however, is not inclined to whimsical wagers. He is what you would call a guy "in the know," meaning he has connections, and will call upon individuals in search of key information in order to determine the likelihood of this hunch bet paying off, in order to further calculate the level of investment he is willing to make.
This is when the Turf Writer first hears of Pataky Kid.
Pataky Kid makes the writer's acquaintance at Keeneland Oct. 2 (C. Novak)
When the horseplayer by the name of Andrew Pataky reads of the horse named Pataky Kid, you see, it is of interest to him to discover if this horse will represent the name with dignity and good standing, and will he go on do to great things, and also will he win the eighth at Arlington. These are important questions, especially the last. He asks the Turf Writer to assist him in determining the answers.
The resume of Pataky Kid does not seem particularly detailed at this point, probably because it isn't. But a third-place finish at odds of 42-1 going six furlongs at Churchill Downs on the first of July is an interesting debut.
Indications from that race—when Pataky Kid breaks slow, trails the field of 11, is sixth at the head of the stretch, gets swung six wide, but still finishes like gangbusters to get the show—lead one to believe he will relish the stretch-out, which the eighth at Arlington happens to be, seeing as trainer Tom Proctor is no dummy when it comes to improving a runner.
There is the matter of a lack of pedigree which may concern the bluebloods (an Oklahoma-bred by Rockport Harbor, out of the inauspicious Gold Case mare Prom Princess), but that just makes it all the more interesting as far as the blue-collar horseplayers at Arlington are concerned. They figure $95,000 is not spent for nothing on a 2-year-old in training (although as it happens, much more than that is sadly spent for nothing all the time). They send him off at odds of 2-5. He wins by three-quarters of a length after running eighth the first half, making a steady advance from third at the head of the stretch. The horseplayer is hooked. The Turf Writer is intrigued.
Pataky Kid is an intriguing contender at Keeneland Oct. 2 (C. Novak)
By this time an intelligent racing observer will have noted that Pataky Kid is representing the name of the horseplayer extremely well, by way of a Sept. 8 Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) win. In fact, the 2-year-old colt now tackles Keeneland as one of 14 runners entered in the Oct. 6 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) going 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack (full preview here), and this is a very significant representation indeed, grade I racing at Keeneland being what it is.
The horseplayer's job having been accomplished with the observation and staunch backing of the runner every time, the Turf Writer figures it is time to pen the story. And so Don and Dana Myers of Swifty Farms, and their granddaughter Christina Lawton, are called upon to tell the tale. Don, 93, is enjoying every moment with this runner his granddaughter picked for him, because what the heck do you have in this game if you don't have hope. Dana, 75, is keeping expectations at a managable level, because you never want to get too far ahead of yourself, but of course she's proud of the job Lawton did in bringing him home.
Don & Dana Myers at Arlington (Swifty Farms Facebook Page)
Lawton, 25, gives the credit to bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, who
helped her find the colt out of a 2-year-old in training sale when he
breezed slow and green... because there was just something about him
that spoke of talent, and promise, and just needing a little time.
"If you ever see him, he has these eyes, and he stares at you," Lawton said. "He actually looks at you like you would when you're talking to a person. Donato and I talked about it at the sale, he seemed like he was looking into you, not just at you. He gave Donato a funny tingle in his stomach."
Said Lanni: "He's just a cool horse. Really well-made, sound-looking horse. He has kind of a Derby, classic look to him. On the track he didn't go very fast, when he breezed, but it was just the way he did it. All about the way he did it."
In the lane of the Arlington-Washington Futurity under top jock Garrett Gomez, Pataky Kid bore out greenly at the feel of the left-handed stick. He still won for fun, his antics suggesting he is simply a big youngster who is still figuring this whole racing thing out. Of course, they're all looking forward to the weekend race at Keeneland. It will be a big step up. Pataky Kid looks like he can do it.
Pataky Kid dashes to Arlington-Washington Futurity win (Four Footed Fotos)
A visit to the barn of trainer Proctor at Keeneland revealed a fine-looking colt who is still growing into himself, one who has settled well after arriving from Arlington a week ago. Footage from the Swifty Farms facebook page seems to indicate he is also getting quite well over the ground. A report of these facts has been made to the horseplayer, who will doubtless place a wager on every one of the runner's starts from here to eternity.
Oh, and the colt's moniker? Well, that is after Donna, who left her maiden name of Pataky aside to marry Don all those years ago. She is of no relation to the horseplayer by blood, but the horseplayer's story is now tied to hers... courtesy of one Pataky Kid.
Pataky Kid at Keeneland Oct. 2 (C. Novak)