As in any family, relationships aren’t often perfect, but they are strong and lasting, through the good times and the bad.
I have come to realize the power of a racetrack community this past week, as my husband Dennis is facing a serious health crisis.
A 31-year veteran of the Parx Racing backside, Dennis’s life has revolved around horses and the people that work with them, and he has never had a desire to leave the racetrack since he first arrived so long ago.
When I first met him in 1993, he was living in a dormitory room and had a pet goat named Happy, a gargantuan animal who once suffered a broken leg after being kicked by a horse at Penn National, and was sent by Dennis to the New Bolton Center of the University of Pennsylvania for treatment. Dennis would “walk” Happy every night around the perimeter of the racetrack, and Happy would follow him like a dog.
Although many people wondered why we were together, since I was a college graduate and he was a high school dropout doing a labor-intensive job grooming thoroughbreds, I always knew it was the strong interest we both had in the sport that brought and kept us together. We were even married by Chaplain Nicholas Salios on the Parx Racing backstretch in 1994. Nearly 20 years later, we have two daughters, ages 17 and 14, both of whom love racing.
Now that Dennis has been hospitalized, there has been an outpouring of care and concern from his racetrack brethren, with many going to visit him or calling to see how he’s doing.
It’s a great family to have, and we are both deeply appreciative of them all.
Dennis, Happy the Goat, and Blazing Sally, his horse, circa 1987.
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I have to admit that I’m feeling a little bit disappointed that Rachel Alexandra, the famous filly, didn’t pick my name out of her feedtub as the winner of the “Name Rachel’s Foal” contest held by her owner, Stonestreet Stable, on July 27. I was one of the many people who suggested the name “Jess’s Dream” for her colt by Curlin.While I am a bit peeved at Rachel, I am delighted that Jess’s Dream was selected for her colt. As has been written many times, it was the dream of her late owner, Jess Jackson, that his two prize thoroughbreds, Rachel and Curlin, be mated.
Actually, I was kind of hoping that the Stonestreet folks would’ve chosen “Wild Taco” for his name, and from whence his nickname “Taco” derived. I thought “Wild Taco” was pretty funny, and so did they. He just looks like a “Taco” to me.