2002-11-10 : 6:49 p.m.
My "Original"


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They say that the truth has a way of coming out on its own, whether or not one chooses to uncover it on one�s own. One can try as hard as he wishes to escape it, but one way or another it will come out. The truth will find its way to be heard. I like to consider myself to be one of the lucky ones; I have managed to escape the one truth that I do not want to come out, the truth about Saratoga Summer. But have I really escaped it or do I know the truth deep down in my heart?

Saratoga Summer is whom I refer to as my �original.� When I was first suctioned into the thoroughbred-racing world several years ago, I began to follow several top-notch horses. These horses had raced several times before, having already proved to the world that they were some of the best when I began to follow their careers. Saratoga Summer was not one of these horses; he had yet to prove himself. If fact, he had yet to even race. One day I was sitting around waiting to see the big grey eclipse champion, Skip Away race on television when another race went off, a maiden special weight for two year olds. As the field went by the camera in the post parade, a young, but powerful looking bay colt caught my eye; his name was Saratoga Summer.

From that race on, Saratoga Summer, or Summer as I called him, became �my� horse, my favorite, the horse I constantly followed. From a young age he was quite impressive and handicappers placed him amongst the early contenders for the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, the Derby was not to be for Summer. While he was quite talented, he lacked the pedigree and the stamina that would be required to race in, let alone win, the Derby. Following several disappointing races to start off his three-year-old season, his plans changed and he was off the Kentucky Derby trail. Leaving the path behind was probably the best thing for Summer. He stepped down a notch in class to race in ungraded stakes at a shorter distance of a mile, a distance at which he thrived. In his new class of races, he began to have the finishes that he so deserved, finishing many close seconds and thirds and even capturing a stakes here and there.

His placements in his mediocre stakes races earned him a try at running with the big guns and he was entered in a grade three stakes race, facing a class of horses that he had not fared well against in the past. However this time around, the results were quite different. While he did not win, he finished a close second, beating more accomplished horses in the process. Sadly this was not enough for his connections. Soon following his big second place finish, he was entered in a second rate claiming race, facing horses at the bottom third of the racing industry. Whether his connections were displeased in his prior accomplishments, in need of money, or just ready to get Summer out of their hands I do not know. I do however know that the race was not for him. He was racing in the wrong class of horses with too little rest at a distance that he all but cared for. He struggled throughout the race, finishing dead last against horses he should have easily beat. The only good that came out of the race was that Summer was claimed by people who I hoped would appreciate the classy horse and let his true talent shine.

Sadly that was not to be. After a short layoff, Saratoga Summer headed back to the track where he once again disappointed; his spirit and fight seemed to be broken. In June of 2000, Saratoga Summer headed onto the track in what would end up being his last race ever. Facing a third rate class of horses at Philadelphia Park, he came under the wire in last place without putting forth any effort, leaving the track in what seemed to be slight discomfort.

The race was the second to last time I ever heard of Saratoga Summer. A horse that started off with so much promise ended his career with such disappointment. A year and a half following his last race, I received information regarding timed workout from some obscure track in the Midwest; his time was terribly slow, but it did not matter to me, it was a relief just to know that he was still alive. Sadly I never received another entry or workout and my momentary hope soon vanished. To this day, I do not know what ever happened to my original, my favorite, the horse I loved so much from the start. When I think back to the obscure Midwest track from which I received his last workout, I realize that it was most likely a quarter horse track and thus why I did not recognize the name. If it was indeed that type of track, then the Saratoga Summer that I heard from was not �my� Saratoga Summer, but instead a horse of a different breed with the same name.

I realize now that his uneasy steps as he left the track in his final start probably hold the key to where he is now. Injuries, even the more minor ones, on the track that concern low-end horses normally lead to only one thing, death. Instead of putting money into saving the animal, they are often euthinized�that is if they are lucky. The others are sent to action where they are bought by the pound and killed for meat. While deep down I know that Saratoga Summer may no longer be on this Earth, I chose not to believe it. I am still hoping that he found someone along the way to take care of him and give him a much needed home and the love that he deserves. He is a stakes winning horse with earnings totaling $217,645 in his twenty-four starts with seven wins, five seconds, and four thirds and that must count for something. The reality of the matter is that if a multi graded stakes winner and Kentucky Derby starter with earnings exceeding one million dollars can find his way to a meat auctions, then surely a mediocre stakes horse by the name of Saratoga Summer could have found death. Yet because I do not know with all certainty, it is easier on the heart if I go on believing that my Summer was one of the lucky ones, that he has found a home and is enjoying his time in the pastures.





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