Showing Up Center Stage at Colonial
Saturday, June 24, 2006
As traumatic as the experience was, Gretchen and Roy Jackson didn't just give up on racing and sell off their horses after their Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro broke down May 20 in the early moments of the Preakness Stakes. The royal blue and green silks with white cross sashes of their Lael Stables continue to fly at racetracks, particularly Belmont Park, where they have won five races during the current meet.
"Maybe it's stupid, but I'm always thinking it's going to be okay," said Gretchen Jackson, who lives with her husband on a farm in West Grove, Pa., five miles from the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, where Barbaro continues to recuperate following surgery to repair his shattered right rear ankle.
Recently, one of the Jacksons' horses dumped its jockey in the starting gate, escaped from an outrider and got loose on the track.
"You're on pins and needles until they're caught," said Gretchen Jackson, who has remained upbeat the past month, since Barbaro's ordeal began. "But I think that's a fluke. That's not the average, the daily routine."
"We're both sort of positive people," Roy Jackson said. "We just don't look at the negative part of it. [Barbaro] was the first time we've had one break down on the track. I don't think you can live your life worrying about things like, will it happen in the next race? You can go back to see where did it happen. Was it the starting gate? Who knows? You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself or get on with life."
The Jacksons have driven down the road to Kennett Square, Pa., nearly every day since Barbaro underwent surgery the day after the Preakness to chat with hospital staff and check up on their prized patient.
This afternoon, however, they will fly to Richmond and travel to New Kent County, Va., to see their other star 3-year-old, Showing Up, run in the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs.
In just its second year, the 1 3/16 -mile grass race, the first of four events that comprise the $5 million Jacobs Investments Grand Slam of Grass, has attracted most of the best 3-year-old turf horses in the country. Ten of the 14 entered are stakes winners and many of the upper echelon jockeys and trainers will be in for the race.
The field is so strong that Showing Up, who won the Grade II Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in April and then ran powerfully in the Kentucky Derby before tiring and finishing sixth, is only the 6-1 fourth choice in the morning line odds.
Trainer Barclay Tagg knows the competition will be extremely tough.
"When you put up a million bucks, that's what you get," he said.
Barbaro was more celebrated, but Showing Up also went into the Kentucky Derby undefeated for the Jacksons. Yet while trainer Michael Matz had methodically mapped out Barbaro's campaign since the fall of his 2-year-old season, Showing Up didn't even make his racing debut until Feb. 11.