MARCH 1, 2014
Friday, February 28 was a huge day for Desperado Racing!
On Thursday morning while I was packing a bag to leave for New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I got a call from Dad. He and Willy had identified a horse that they wanted to claim out of a race on Friday at The Fairgrounds. Since this was going to be our eagerly anticipated first claim, I had no idea what to do, so I called our trainer to talk it over.
The basic first task was to get a big, fat cashier’s check to put on deposit at The Fairgrounds while the trainers got the scoop on the horse, City Steel. I hastily finished packing and headed to the bank while confirming that the trainer was giving us the early thumbs up.
On Friday we went to the barn early to make sure everything was in order and understand what I would need to do that afternoon. We met with the trainer and then visited the track office to get the money on deposit checking back at home to give Dad and Willy the progress update. We returned to the track mid-afternoon ready to claim a horse.
City Steel was running in the last race of the day, so the wait there through the afternoon into the early evening seemed like an eternity. Finally, as the horses left the paddock for the eighth race I got the go-ahead from our advisors to drop the claim. I checked all of the spelling on the ticket for about the billionth time (a misspelled word gets you instantly disqualified) and I proceeded to the office as I had practiced in my head all afternoon. The claim must be dropped 15 minutes before post time of the race, so I couldn’t be delayed by getting lost or confused about where to go and what to do! I slid the claim envelope into the time clock to make sure it was time stamped and dropped it nervously into the claim box after confirming once again that I was in the right place and doing all the right things!
I went to the paddock to get a quick glimpse of the horse and hurried back to the office where I had been instructed to stay and watch the race. Just before post time we were told that we were in a three way shake, meaning that two other people had claimed the same horse. I was a nervous wreck. The office took the claim ticket envelopes, sealed them shut, shuffled them up and put numbers on them 1, 2 and 3. They put dice with numbers one, two and three in a shaker and we waited for the start of the race. When the horses left the gate, the shake occurred and out popped the number 2. The office opened the number 2 envelope and announced my name as the new owner of City Steel! City Steel was an exclusive claim for Bill and Willy, but since I was in New Orleans and licensed, I got to make the claim for them. I feel so lucky that I got to do it—it was one of the most exciting experiences I have ever had!
The groom and I watched the finish of the race on the office television, grabbed the paperwork and went to the paddock to collect the new addition to Desperado Racing, City Steel. The day continued at the barn, where City Steel got a bath, a new stall, a check out by the vet and good look over from everyone involved!
Happy Mardi Gras!