• The agony of defeat (video)

    POSTED May 14, 2012
    Walking back to the stable area, trainer Neil Howard was not a happy man.

    His charge, Brilliant, had just finished second to Sky Conqueror in the 2007 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, and Howard spent the first half of that walk craning his neck to watch the replay on the infield toteboard. Once the toteboard was away from view, he spent the rest of the time just shaking his head.

    Even five years later, I still wonder if he believes he really got beat.

    Ahmed Zayat won't have similar nightmares about Bodemeister. He ran valiant in defeat and to be second to I'll Have Another in this year's Kentucky Derby, but it was a clear loss. Still, the disappointment in this video is obvious. You definitely wouldn't think this is the face of someone who won $400,000 as the owner of the Kentucky Derby runner-up.

     

    My takeaway from Howard's reaction and Zayat's "A Derby Tale" is the emotional investment horsemen--owners, trainers, grooms, jockeys, etc.--put into being around these animals.

    The connections of Brilliant and Bodemeister earned more than a half-million dollars for finishing second in these Grade 1 races, and I have no doubt they'd have traded in every last penny to be in the winner's circle instead.
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