Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Odysseus: Heart of a Champion

Posted by Brian Appleton on August 10, 2010

For American horse racing nothing gets the blood flowing like an exciting Triple Crown candidate emerging out of nowhere to stamp himself as a possible contender in the months before the Kentucky Derby. In February of this year a stunning chestnut colt romped to a 15 length victory over the Tampa Bay Downs racing surface to remain undefeated

in 2 starts for the year, the other being a maiden sprint. His performance earned immediate buzz as a possible Kentucky Derby candidate but it was his next start where colt showed just how good he really was. In just his fourth lifetime start Odysseus turned in the most determined Kentucky Derby prep of the year and stamped his name firmly across the hearts of thousands of fans across the country.

It was the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby and Odysseus was up against race favorite, and future Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver as well as the very talented Schoolyard Dream. Super Saver led the field from the gate and down the backstretch while Odysseus sat just behind with Schoolyard Dreams taking up the rear. Coming off the turn Schoolyard Dreams sprung into action from far back, brushing past Odysseus and bursting to the lead, a nose ahead of Super Saver.

After receiving the perfect stalking trip all down the backstretch, Odysseus looked to be floundering helplessly entering the homestretch. The sudden move by Schoolyard Dreams seemed to have thrown the inexperienced colt for a loop. Up front Schoolyard Dreams and Super Saver were furiously battling it out, head and head while Odysseus lack of experience seemed to be getting the better of him. Swerving to the outside and finding himself blocked in by Gleam of Hope, Odysseus suddenly darted forward into an invisible hole along the inside of a dueling Super Saver and Schoolyard Dreams. In the blink of an eye he transformed the race into a rout, surging to the wire first by a lip.

Sadly for the racing community Odysseus was sidelined one month later after hyper extending his left knee in the Bluegrass Stakes (gr.1) after which a bone chip was discovered.

Now just four months later, in what has to be one of the most tragic weekends I have ever witnessed in thoroughbred horse racing, on the morning of August 9th Odysseus’ short but brilliant life was brought to a heartbreaking end as the colt lost a battle with laminitis. He was euthanized at Haygard Equine Medical Institute in Kentucky from complications due to laminitis after being treated for colitis. The news is especially saddening coming just two days after the sudden death of the 6 year old mare Tuscan Evening. I truly believe that Odysseus was one of the most naturally gifted young colts I have ever seen race. In his brief but shining career he achieved more things than some horses complete in several seasons of racing.

His talents may never have been fully realized yet he displayed the heart of a true champion through his courage, grit and determination.

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12 Responses to “Odysseus: Heart of a Champion”

  1. I still don’t think Odysseus got up at the wire. Can we take a look at the photo again, please?

    FYI, your package is one the way. 😉

  2. Nice tribute, Brian. 🙂

  3. I second that Brian……… Nice tribute…

  4. Sally in Indy said

    A beautiful tribute to a sensational colt we’ll miss. Indeed, what a horrible, horrible week – so many lost.

  5. WWSTP said

    I remember that race so well! He burned his way into my heart. RIP Odysseus.

  6. LindaVA said

    A very nice tribute. He will be missed.

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