Talk Derby To Me: My Close encounter with Dullahan

Backside footprint

Its a time honored racetrack tradition that you can travel to the backside, early on spring mornings and watch the Horses work.
I have been lucky to spend years out there with frineds, and even when I worked for Cox Radio.

But the energy on the backside of Churchill come Derby week is palatable.

Its not all about the Bafferts ( he was there yeaterday) or the Nick Zito’s, no. The Horses.  The history of the races, the stable groomsmen and the hotwalkers. The fabric of the backside is as varied as a crazy-quilt.

There are more stories and more history in that small acreage you never dreamed of. And then there are connections.

Walking the backside on a morning like Friday, you see the last works of some of the Derby contenders. The tourists haven’t come to visit in gaggles, and the Horsemen are serious, but relaxed. A few photogs and media-ites were roaming, but not en masses, yet. I met up with a gal from the Blood-Horse around Dale Roman’s camp.

We were waiting for Kent Desourmeaux and for the Horse himself,  Dullahan, to come in from works.  The Kentucky bred, Iowa owned Horse being trained by a kid from the ‘Ville. ( watch the Des Moines Register’s story here)

Donegal Racing’s Horse Profile” href=””>Dullahan turned in what trainer Dale Romans called a maintenance work at Track Profile” href=””>Churchill Downs April 28, going five furlongs in 1:01 1/5.

With Tammy Fox aboard, the son of Even the Score Horse_name=Even+the+Score&YOB=1998&breed_type=TB&Horse_type=I&ASCID=1443262″ rel=”external” target=”_blank”>  posted split fractions of :11 4/5, :23 4/5, and :36. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:15 4/5 in his final preparation for Derby.



Dullahan walked his cool-down, and from the moment he spotted us, it was like he connected. Now, not sure how many girls are in his camp, but he knew, we were there to see him. We stood in wait, and as soon as he saw us, the eyes were there. I have posted a few other Horses in here to show that connectivity that many do not see as the Horses feel as if they are looking through to your soul with those big brown eyes. Its an amazing gaze they cast upon you, never to be forgotten.

Dullahan walks and cools...

He took a moment in his stall for next came the scope, take his temperature, check his legs etc., from the vet- and out for his bath.


Dullahan and his straight through you gaze..heart of a winner.


Look of a Champion

There were a few guys looking for that money shot of Big D ( see Roman’s quote next) and he kept walking around showing them HIS backside. Dale Roman’s quoted that he “was a big bull” after a growth spurt.

Now, I am really small next to BigD, but I got down to shoot some great hoof views, I would look up and he started working the camera. It was like something you would see on America’s top model! He turned and posed and held, and it was so fun to shoot.


"Bring it"

I had heard stories about the way Secretariat would literally pose for the camera, and this Horse has the same swagger as Big Red.

Foreshadowing? Quite possibly.

"Did you get my profile?"

I spoke to a trainer pal of mine, and he shared some thoughts on the matter.
Seems after a work like Dullahan had, like us, their endorphines are raging, and its a natural high. Just like an NBA player, they have a killer game, and they are on top of the world.

Well, if this all true, then Dullahan has the look and soul of a Derby Winner.

Watch the blog for more on Dullahan this week….