a story, forever unfinished

The Davona Dale Stakes is coming up this Saturday.  Just like last year, and the year before…it makes me sad.

Heading into the serious prep season in 2014, I had two horses in particular who I kept picking against, and who kept making me look like a fool.  Out west, I had California Chrome.  In the three years between then and now, we all got to know California Chrome well.  He got the chance to write his story, a story which will see his name enshrined in the Hall of Fame in five years’ time.

Out east, I had Onlyforyou.

Undefeated in two starts as she entered her stakes debut, she contested the Forward Gal.  I sided with Aurelia’s Belle, and hardly understood why Onlyforyou went off at 3/10 odds.  Seven furlongs later, it made sense, as Onlyforyou won in commanding fashion.

It didn’t make quite enough sense, though — I played against her again in the Davona Dale.  I forget whether I returned to Aurelia’s Belle or tried House Rules, but even after that easy Davona Dale win, I wasn’t swallowing my pride and taking her at a short price.

Once again, I had gotten too cute for my own good.  The daughter of Malibu Moon got to the front, toyed with House Rules while turning for home, and won by daylight again.  Onlyforyou had marked herself the horse to beat in Florida.  Her perfect record remained intact, four wins in four starts.

There her record forever remains: four wins in four starts.

Unlike my west coast nemesis, my east coast nemesis never got the chance to write the rest of her story.  Three weeks after her victory in the Davona Dale, she broke down while galloping out after a work, a fatal condylar fracture.  What we had then would be all we’d get to see…four dominant victories.  Dreams of Oaks lilies cut short, dreams of distaff division stardom never given the chance to bloom.

Since then, I’ve kept my eye on Erhu’s other babies, as they’re the closest I can come to finding out What If.  I’ve wished them well…particularly her sister Dress the Part, two years older.  The same day Onlyforyou died, Dress the Part made her stakes debut in the Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs.  She won.  I then saw her in person in what would be her final career start, the Sixty Sails at Hawthorne.  I wished her well, but she came home seventh and last behind Flashy American.  Her first foal, a colt by Curlin, turned two this year.  I’ll have a special eye on him.

But, that’s not quite the same.  Every year, around Davona Dale time, I still think about Onlyforyou.  Though I know it’s futile, I shed a tear over what might have been.

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