It was raining at Churchill Downs. We could see the rain on the big screen. The track was muddy. Inside the Frontrunner, the buffet was going full steam ahead. Roast beef. Strawberries. Indeterminate carbs. We ordered mint juleps in honor of the day.
Alas, the rain. The mud. The sloppy track.
Goldencents finished 17th out of 19 in the Kentucky Derby. He started the race hovering between third and fourth place, but got bogged down in the mud, thick as peanut butter, as he came into the stretch. Another local jockey, Joel Rosario, rode a horse named Orb past the finish line and into the winner's circle.
Orb is an East Coast thoroughbred with a lengthy lineage. One of Orb's grandsires is Secretariat. An honorable lineage.
This was the first Derby victory for Orb's trainer, Shug McGaughey.
Orb and Goldencents have something in common. They both tweet. That night, @TheGoldencents tweeted: “Before I hit the hay, I wanted to say congrats to @OrbColt well done.”
Obviously, Goldencents' social media etiquette reflects the character of his trainer and his jockey.
If O'Neill's ears were burning on race day, it was because folks in the Frontrunner talked about him. The consensus is that O'Neill is a swell guy who takes the time to acknowledge the workers, is loyal to his employees and sets the tone for his team.
Shortly before the race, NBC grabbed O'Neill for an interview. “How do you feel about the conditions on the track today?” asked the commentator.
“First, there's some people I want to say hello to....” responded O'Neill, who then acknowledged his mom, Dixie O'Neill, and several other friends and supporters on the West Coast, before answering the question.
There were sad faces around the Frontrunner after the race.
The next day, @TheGoldencents tweeted: “It's official, I am going to Baltimore.”
“I ate up everything last nite and was hungry this morning. Just wasn't my day on Sat, but I am fine.”
The next stop for Goldencents will be the second race in the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, on Saturday, May 18, at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Naturally, there's a U.S. Naval Academy connection. The Naval Academy Glee Club has performed “Maryland, My Maryland,” the state anthem, for the past 15 years. They'll sing the anthem during the post parade, while Goldencents, Orb and their jockeys walk over to the starting gate.
Safe travels to all the horses on May 18.
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @anitabrenner.