Once was Not Enough
My father called me yesterday to tell me that Once is Enough, the two-year-old filly of whom he is part-owner, came up lame after Sunday's race.
My brother, some friends and our wives, went down to see her run her first race Sunday.
My folks were up at Saratoga where they go every summer so they couldn't make it.
We were supposed to represent the family in the Winner's Circle, if by chance she won.
She almost did.
She took the lead early and for most of the race, but failed to hold it down the homestretch.
After the race, her jockey, Mario Pino, told her trainer Larry Jones, she was running so well and so easily he thought she had the race won.
"I guess she just doesn't have the class we thought she did," Pino told Jones.
Minutes later she was limping in the paddock. An x-ray showed she had a broken bone in her knee.
Her racing career is probably over.
The good news, Jones told me when I called him yesterday, is that she is resting comfortably, without being shot full of painkillers, and she can put weight on her bad knee. This is to say, she is not in any immediate danger of having to be put down.
"Maybe we should have named her Once is Not Enough," Jones told me Monday, trying to lighten the mood.
Injuries have shortened and even ended a lot athletes' careers. Thoroughbred race horses are especially vulnerable to not just career-ending injuries, but life-threatening ones.
But as to her "class" well, we may never know how good she could have been.
We do know one thing: she had heart.
They can't tell when the injury occurred, but a good bet is that it happened down the homestretch while she was still in lead of her first race ever.
My 82-year-old father and my step-mom watched the race on simulcast in Saratoga.
My old man knows about two things: newspapers and racehorses.
At the end of our conversation Monday, during which he notified me that her racing career was over, he said this:
"She was so game."
He would know.