Wednesday, April 9, 2008



This is not a dog story, and for that I beg your forgiveness and patience, dear readers. This is a son story, a grand little horse with a big heart story, and a story full of kind people.

I drove to Lexington and back today. My generous and kind friend Jeannie got up at oh dark thirty to go with me. My son had a horse running in the first race at Keeneland.

If you are a race horse trainer, having a horse run at Keeneland is a big deal. But if you are a young race horse trainer whose successful business imploded and vanished after a pile of bad luck so despicable as to have made Job himself shake his head in disbelief, then having a horse run at Keeneland is a huge big deal.

So Jeannie and I piled into Bill's "babe machine" (the Buick Rendezvous, which looks like a Gremlin on steroids) and headed East. Bill would be gone most of the day as he was juroring an art show in the middle of the state. Our kind and wonderful friend Karen let my dogs out at lunch time to potty. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to go. I got to take the Rendezvous, because Jeannie's husband Harvey drove Bill to the art show. Otherwise, I would have had to take the van, which would have been $200 in gas, and I wouldn't have been able to go.

I have to say here, dear readers, that I have been sick with worry for my son. I don't know how he survived the past year. I would not have. But he lives and breathes horses. He loves horses. He "gets" horses. He wants nothing else in life but to train race horses and to do it well. So he started all over. He persevered.

The four and a half hour drive flew by this morning. Jeannie and I talked and lucky Paul Simon sang. My nerves got more and more jangly. It had been seven months since Jake had run a horse, and this was only the second time ever that I would get to see it in person. I'd watched his races on the Internet and had made my poor Bill think that I was being torn limb from limb when he'd innocently come into the house, and I'd be shouting in my little room, "GO! GO! OH MY GOD! Youcango you go aooohhhhhhaoooahahaaaaaaaaaaa Yayayayayay!!!"

We pulled up to the barn, and my handsome son looked cool. If you didn't know him like I do. I saw a man who had everything on the line. He was stretched like a tight rope, but he was calmly rubbing liniment on his horse, putting wraps on his legs, giving his groom last minute instructions.

"He looks great, Jake."


Jeannie and I got to be in the beautiful Keeneland Paddock like a couple of big shots as Jake saddled the horse and gave the jockey a few words. "Just let him run his race. He's got a lot of heart. If he's in the middle of the pack don't abuse him, just bring him back safe. But I think he'll run big today." He gave the rider a leg up and we went into the Clubhouse. Jeannie placed her good luck bet. I don't bet. But I remembered something from when I was sixteen and saw my first ever horse race. I got to the window and said "five dollars to win on number two, please."

We stood at the front watching the horses warm up. I was only watching one little chestnut horse with a number two on his saddle pad and a white bridle on. I was so nervous at this point that I thought vomit might spew out my eyeballs and my butt and my ear holes and my arm pits. That's nervous.

A man in his early seventies walked up to Jeannie and me and pointed at the embroidery on his jacket, saying something about being a tour bus driver and having a safe driving record for forty-nine years. He said he'd bet on the one, three and nine in a boxed trifecta.

"You have to bet on the two!" cried Jeannie. "Her son trains that horse."

Tour Bus Driver Man looked at me and asked if he should bet number two.

I tried not to vomit as I explained the horse was coming off a five month lay off and this was my son's first ever start at Keeneland.

Tour Bus Driver Man pointed to his baseball hat which spelled "GAP". "God Answers Prayers," he said.

I don't bother God with prayers for dog shows and horse races. If I were God and had prayers from mothers with sons in Iraq and Dar Fur and Guantanamo to work on, I'd be right peeved at prayers for dog shows and horse races. But I'd been praying for my son "pretty regular" for a good while.

I said, "I tell you what. You send a prayer up. And if this horse wins, you come down in the Winner's Circle and get in the win photo with us."

Jake came back from the racing office and we ran upstairs to watch from behind the boxes. And the horses were in the starting gate and they were off. The white bridle burst out of the starting gate and was second by just a head, and the horses got in stride and the little chestnut was neck and neck for the lead. I pounded on Jeannie's shoulder blades "Go, Xela! Go!" and the little chestnut colt got his nose in front rounding the turn and Jake whispered, "Be a race horse, buddy, be a race horse now," and I beat poor Jeannie's back purple and I yelled, "GO, XELA! GO! GO XELA OH MY GOD GO!" and then a big strapping big bay colt, number nine the favorite, came up and hooked the little chestnut, and I thought they were right at the wire, and I groaned, "Close, honey, there's going to be a photo," and Jake shouted, "It's Keeneland, it's a long stretch, that's the sixteenth pole, HE's GOT HIM!" and the little chestnut dug in when the jockey asked him to and pulled out and won by a length and a half, just like an answer to prayer. And I stopped beating on Jeannie and I hugged her and Jake grabbed me and he lifted my way up off the ground and he spun in a twirl with his old mom in the air and we ran down to the Winner's Circle.

We found Tour Bus Driver Man looking positively confounded with his winning ticket in his hand and I said, "Come on! Follow us!" I told Jake that there would be a very friendly Tour Bus Driver in the win picture and Jake shook his hand and said it was nice to meet him, no questions asked about why there was a friendly Tour Bus Driver in the win picture. Xela came back, and he had barely even broken a sweat, but his nostrils flared in that inspirational nobility of a race horse who knew he had won. Jake patted him, with respect, and whispered something to him.

People who were part of the Tour Bus Driver's touring group collected outside the Winner's Circle waiving their winning tickets, shouting, "Thanks for the tip, Eddy!"

One of Jake's mentors was there. A generous man who quietly had helped Jake get back on his feet. He pointed out during all the congratulating that Jake would have all kinds of friends today.

"Yes," I smiled to myself. "But only one Mom."

So I beg your forgiveness for not writing about dogs tonight. And I know I've missed Asta's coming home party, and I am sorry for that. But when Jake called me later, he was down at the barn holding Xela outside to graze on the spring grass. He wasn't up in the clubhouse getting pats on the back. He was letting the little chestnut horse with the big heart relax and eat grass.

And I just had to write about that.

to see photos of the day, go HERE.

Hug your hounds


  1. Aww... <3 I'm so happy for you all. And I don't think there's a single human or dog blaming you for not writing about dogs when another story is more important. ;)

    Hugs, Ane & the WriggleButts

  2. Oh, how very cool and how very fun!

  3. Woooo Hoooo!! A big congrats to Jane and Xela.


  4. Oh yeah, can we get back to the dogs now!!



  5. Ah that is great. Congrats to Jake and Xela.

  6. Congratulations to you and your son! Aaah....Keeneland's Spring Meet...the one true sign spring has finally sprung!

  7. Katherine, I'm sorry I frightened you last night with the briefly apearing "No Words" title. I lost my Internet connection, and by the time I got it back I decided I did have a word: Wa-HOOOOOOO!
    Thank you for your concern for VOD. He is, thank goodness, sleeping happily in his special bed at my feet as I type this.

  8. Knowing you and Jake as I do I am so happy for you both! I read the story with great anticipation. Good things come to those that perservere!

    You are a very special MOM and so lucky to have such a high spirited son!

    Hug your boys! r

  9. Love love love this story. I have been to Keeneland several times. Last time in October 2007. Congrats on the win, how wonderful that was. I'm sure you are as proud as a momma can be! I know I would be.

    God is an awsome God.

  10. WOOOOOOOOOOT We loved the story. Me n Teka have only sniffed a horse once, but it was lovely. Congratulations to all


    ps..could the bus driver take care of my muzzer on this trip please

  11. Congratulations to Jake, Xela and you. Oh, and the tour bus driver, too. I watch the races from Keeneland whenever they're shown on TV. Now I'll never be able to watch without thinking about you, Jake and Xela. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience and telling it so beautifully. And thank you for enriching my simple life again!
    Lady & Sheila

  12. I love this story! What a wonderful day for all.

    My favorite part to read was how Jake and Xela were sharing their winning evening together over a patch of green spring grass. That's bonding and appreciation ... I'm so glad they enjoyed that special time. Sounds like Jake knows what it's all about! Good job Mom!

  13. What an awesome story! Congrats to Jake and Xela!!!

    Love ya lots
    Maggie and Mitch

  14. I wanted to let you know about a blog that you might be interested in. My brother is an artist from Paducah (like me) but has lived in Houston for 31 years. He recently had his first gallery show and he sold something like 27 of the 43 entries the night of the showing! He has expressed some interest in some galleries in Paducah and has wanted to get some more information about them. I told him about you and that I would give you his blog addy. It is called Attitude of Gratitude. Click on and that should take you to it.


  15. How wonderful for your son. We are hoping that he has many more wins.
    Tell Bill that Grammie got her print and loves it. It may take her awhile to get it framed though.

  16. We would never forgive you if you did not write about that!
    You got yourself one heluva son...but of course.

  17. I went on Keeneland site and saw that your son's horse paid very well for anyone that wagered! Just an added bonus!

  18. What a Wonderful story Patience! Congratulations to Jake and Xela. I almost felt like I was there listening to the pounding of their hooves. You can be very, very proud of your Son.


  19. That is a wonderful story and so poignant cause it is true. yay for everyone involved.

  20. Excellent story! Congratulations to Jake and Xela!

  21. What a great day for all concerned.
    I hope you remembered to collect your winnings from the bookies Patience, although I know all you were really interested in was for Xela to win for Jake!



  23. WA-HOO is right!!! congrats to all-brought more tears,though! martha and p-doggy

  24. I like horse stories and ones with happy endings are even better...

    All the best to you, Bill and the Waggle...

    HJ & The Whippet Gang

  25. What a BEAUTIFUL story. There is nothing like the special relationship between a mother and son. Your story reminds me of that relationship with my own son. Your story truly conveys that very essence. Congratulations to your son & his prodigy Xela. Thank you for sharing.


  26. Oh my goodness how exciting and terrifying and electrifying! Huge congratulations to Jake, as well as to the little chestnut. :)

    I can only hope my boys grow up to have a love and passion for animals too. It's nice when it runs in the family!

  27. Thanks for sharing the story about this great day!
    Congratulations to Jake and Xela!
    Kisses and hugs

  28. heck, we want to find a horse to hug! what a great story and we are so so glad it had such a perfect ending! All that driving was surely worth it!

  29. What a beautiful story of a mom's love for her son, and of a man's love for his horse. It warmed my heart and brought a big smile to my face. Thank you for sharing.

  30. woofies and burfs, congrats to ur son and Xela....

    b safe,
    bear and
    angel lacylulu ;)

  31. Congratulations Jake and Proud Mom!

  32. Oh Patience,that is so wonderful!!

    Congratulations to Jake and Xela!

  33. Patience, this story simply MUST be published somewhere! You had me laughing, crying and on the edge of my seat the entire time. That must have been the most amazing day! Amy

  34. That would have been a great story even if it were a work of fiction; that it is TRUE makes it a wonderful story.

    I just love the tour bus driver. His appearance seems so divinely inspired. I mean, I hear what you are saying about God being too busy to concern himself with horse racing. But maybe, just maybe, one of his angels enjoys playing the ponies!!

    Great read!


  35. Yea!!! This is most fabulous news! What a beautiful day i was...the sky trying to clear, a bit of breeze in the air, and most importantly, a winning run! Our girl has arrived safely in Paducah and can't wait to meet her new neighbors!!

    kari & kijsa

  36. OooooohPatience
    What a wondewful stowy and a bootiful howse..I'm so happy fow you, youw son and that lovely little chestnut...Thank you fow telling us..Mommi was at the edge of hew seat weading it..we bof jumped fow joy at the end
    smoochie kisses

  37. I wonder where Jake gets his love of animals from??
    Congratulations!!! I was so nervouse reading your story, fortunately it had a happy ending!

  38. that horse is so adorable.....i have a horse that is my is a thorughbred gelding and i love him to death....i dont know what i would do without him

  39. Oh Whippets, we loved ur mom's story!! And that horse's long face looked so much like Babystan!!

    And we really loved the Tourbusdriverdude!!!

    He'll tell this story till the cows come home!!!

    Way to go Patience's son...

    Scruffy, Lac and BS!!!!!

  40. Congratulations Jake and Xela!!


  41. We are WAY behind in our reading,so sorry and this story made PL2 very weepy!!!! Lovely lovely!!! Love A+A +PL2

  42. Wow we were all on the edge of the chair as we read that story! Mom's a horse nut too; she watched all the races at Aqueduct on TV when she was a girl in New York. Now she has one and sneaks away to see her and I get so jealous!


  43. How proud you must be of your son and his little chestnut Patience! My heart was in a squeeze throughout the read. Springtime is indeed a great time to be a Kentuckain.

  44. What a beautiful story! I am so happy for you and for Jake. May he have continued success!

    Love and Koobuss Kisses,

    pee ess I guess you know by now that the whippets did make it to Asta's pawty. You can find them on her bed.

  45. this made me shiver! so glad for your son - you must be so proud!


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