by Trey Nosrac
Not every plan works out. A year ago, I had an idea. The format was straightforward. Find an online chat group, an online newsletter, or a Facebook group devoted to a specific illness. At the time, I had a yearling to donate to this group of people who probably knew nothing about the sport. My thinking was to rename the yearling related to the illness, introduce myself in a posting, and give the audience a reason to pay attention by posting the horse’s progress each week on the site. Any winnings would be donated to research on the disease. (*See a snippet of the concept below).
The plan required a trainer willing to work at a reduced rate and an entity ready to pick up the training costs and additional expenses. I threw a few lines into the water but did not get a bite in the somewhat tricky spring/summer of 2020 when racing was in quarantine. Time ran out, and the idea got shelved. I failed. So what? Failure is just another chance to try again.
Just as Parkinson’s is a journey, so is each young horse like Stirred Not Shaken. Consider this note an invitation to take every step of his journey updated monthly in this newsletter. The trip will be fun. The explanations will be easy to follow. Satire, videos, and bad jokes will be part of the presentation. Any money earned will go towards research.
Should you have questions as the adventure trots along, I will clearly answer them. There will be video clips, and we might even try to arrange opportunities for you to meet Stirred Not Shaken. If all goes well, you can attend his races or watch them on your computer.
Next month, you will receive a second email where you will meet Stirred Not Shaken…
That initiative did not fly. Who cares? The concept could take flight at another time or in another form. I do not regret trying. Here is what I do regret: For a decade, my brother-in-law, Ryan, battled a different disease, multiple myeloma. Each month I drove him to receive treatments. Our conversations did not always flow like water, so we returned to common ground. He leaned into his illness, treatment and family. I headed towards sports, especially harness racing.
I regret not trying harder to steer him into our game. Ryan was a bright, curious guy. When he got his teeth into something, he was fascinated, but he was painfully introverted and risk averse. He would have enjoyed our game if the first few dances were risk-free. I should have made a detour to the breeding farm after one of his treatment trips and said:
“Ryan, I raised this trotter and have decided to race him. He is heading to a trainer at a training track in two weeks. On January 1, he will turn 2 because all horses born in a calendar year turn 2 on the first day of the year. In June or July, if we are lucky, he will race for money, probably not a lot of money, but who knows. There are plenty of hurdles and lessons that this horse needs to learn between now and his first race. I’m going to take you out to see the lessons once each month after your treatment and then to see him race if he makes it to the racetrack.
“Ten per cent of any purse money he earns is going to your one-year-old grandson. You don’t pay a damn thing except for your attention. Your job will be to listen to me babble about the sport, ask questions, and read some stuff I will forward to you.”
Why this did not cross my mind during his years of treatment is a mystery to me. Racing for others makes participants feel good. Technology can open doors for people to find the joys of our sport. If you find a person or a group of people willing to pay attention, give them a nudge. If you can physically get to racetracks and farms, that’s great. If not, in this era, people can experience us in pixels. Seeing what we see in this sport can be good medicine for people. Why not give them a nudge? Maybe they become fans and owners; perhaps they do not.
You will never know unless you try.