One of the reasons I got into horse racing was because I am such a trivia nerd. I have always loved Jeopardy!, Trivial Pursuit, pub quizzes: anything that involves having fun and putting knowledge of obscure facts to good use. This afternoon, I had a very clear reminder of why being a trivia nerd and being a horse racing fan go hand-in-hand.
I was watching Del Mar this afternoon. I hadn’t handicapped the card, and I wasn’t playing today. It was just something fun to watch while I finished writing this week’s Chicago Railbird column. The sixth race was a maiden special weight at a mile over the turf. I recognized none of the names of the competitors. In the race, a horse named Dallas Skyline made a sharp run on the outside, pulling away in the final sixteenth to win by a widening length and a half. The race finished, and I went back to writing about tomorrow’s Arlington tenth.
As they brought Dallas Skyline into the winner’s circle, Trevor Denman made his announcement: “Dallas Skyline is a two-year-old bay colt by Scat Daddy, out of Bella Bliss…”
As soon as he named the mare, I jerked out of my writing and looked back at the screen. The name Bella Bliss sounded familiar, but not because of anything related to Del Mar. I could have sworn she had been one of the other competitors in one of my favourite races to watch and re-watch, the October 2008 race from Hawthorne in which Donnaguska came from the clouds to mow down the entire field. There was no way I just happened to be watching a race in which the progeny of one of the horses she mowed down ran and won, right?
Sure enough, I was remembering correctly, and this was the same Bella Bliss. The Donnaguska race was Bella Bliss’s sixth start; she broke her maiden at Hawthorne two starts later, in December of 2008. She raced ten more times after that, never finishing better than second, and last racing in October of 2009. Dallas Skyline was not her first foal, but he is her first foal to race. Today was his first start, and he made it a winning one.
What does the fact that Bella Bliss finished fourth in one of my favourite races to watch have to do with her ability to foal a first-out maiden winner a few years later? Nothing, of course. However, it is a perfect example of the little things that make horse racing so compelling. As fans, we all remember countless pieces of information about our favourite races and our favourite horses. When little reminders of those moments or competitors arise anywhere, it is an unexpected bit of horse racing happiness.
The Del Mar stream went quiet after the winner’s circle presentation. I smiled, and I knew exactly what to watch before the analysis of the Graduation Stakes began.