Oh, the racing game. It never fails to humble. Anyone who has been involved long enough has tasted its notoriety for devastation and disappointment. As quickly as you are on top, you’re booted to the bottom.
Just two days ago, I could not have been higher. I was tooting the horn of Artic Fern, the Queen’s Plate contender I had foaled, helped raise, and broke at Gustav Schickedanz’s Schonberg Farm. I would tell the story of the night he was born, and remind everyone that I was the first to sit on this rising star’s back. I told all my family and friends, “put your money on this horse. He’s for real. This is the one.”
Artic Fern would be the one. It all made sense. His breeding suggested it: He is by Langfuhr, sire of a Queen’s Plate winner (Wando), out of Wood Fern, a full sister to a Queen’s Plate winner (Woodcarver). This year, the Queen would be coming to the Plate, which is to be run on my birthday, the fourth of July. Artic Fern is three for four, riding a three-racing winning streak displaying versatile running styles. And he couldn’t be going for better people: both Schickedanz and trainer Mike Keogh are the picture of class and humility, and well-loved by many at Woodbine and in the global industry. Yes, everything seemed to be falling in to place, and the excitement was electrifying.
That was until a late night phone call on June 27. Upon hearing the news, my head seemed to stop working, and all of the strength seemed to leave my body. In an instant, the electricity was gone, and I found myself leaning against the wall for support as I fought back tears of disappointment and anger. The feeling is as cold as the Artic.
Artic Fern had his final work in preparation for the Plate on Saturday the 26th, moving five furlongs in 1:00.40. He exited the work in good order, but came up lame Sunday morning. His chances looked dim Sunday evening, and he was officially withdrawn from consideration on Monday morning.
So this is where our story ends. But the end of one story must mean the beginning of another, and perhaps bigger things are in store for Artic Fern and Gus's stable. While the disappointment is still crippling, the best I can do is be thankful that it wasn’t worse; Artic Fern is still in the barn, and with some better luck, will live to run another day. I will now have to shift my interests back to D’s Wando and Mobthewarrior, the two Plate contenders bred and sold by Schickedanz.