August 28, 2009

Rachel and Her Rider - No not Calvin!

Dominic Terry has been riding horses since he was four or five years old. His mother, Elizabeth Kirkland, who was also was a jockey, brought him around the track as a young boy. He remembers loving to ride the stable pony at the barns where his mother worked. His first riding job (he will not say how old he was at the time) was for Bill Badgett, the trainer of the great Go For Wand. From these beginnings, it was only natural for Dominic to go on to a career as a professional jockey, but in 2003 and still a teenager, he was seriously injured in a race at the Fair Grounds. It was a terrible fall and caused him eleven months away from the races. Horse racing is clearly not a game for the faint of heart and the accident left him with a nine inch scar on his neck as a reminder.

After his return from injury, Dominic has had a difficult time in deciding on whether he should be a jockey or an exercise rider. Weight, as is the case for many men and women who have riding aspirations, is an important factor. He is currently a happier and healthier person weighing in at a few pounds more than he would need to maintain as a jockey. While he misses the rush of being a race rider, he has continued to work diligently and has found himself in an enviable position. As a trusted member of the powerful Steve Asmussen stable, Dominic has the privilege of getting on the back of some of the best horses in the world. Curlin, on occasion, Pyro, Kensei, and Rachel Alexandra in just the past couple years. It is in Rachel Alexandra, whom he calls the best horse that he has ever ridden, that Dominic finds peace with his choice to be an exercise rider instead of hearing the cheers of the fans in the afternoon.

Rachel Alexandra has benefited as well. Since beginning to work with Dominic in May, she has transformed into a much more handy filly during her conditioning workouts. When she first came to the Asmussen barn, Rachel was very hard to handle and her preparation for racing was not the most focused. Dominic was both thrilled and nervous when Asmussen’s top assistant, Scott Blasi, turned to him to work the star. Through his expertise, she has now learned to efficiently prepare for her races. This certainly can be seen in her last few races where she has patiently rated behind the quick early fractions of the Mother Goose and the quality speed of Munnings.

Dominic is as big a fan of this filly, that has captured the imagination of so many millions of admirers around the world, as anyone. He admits to almost needing nerve medication on the day of her races. He sees more great things in Rachel’s future, culminating with a win in the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Classic at her favorite track, Churchill Downs. Dominic realizes that Rachel Alexandra will be a popular girl in the breeding shed, but he is not so sure that she will want to stop running so fast to enjoy the fruits of motherhood. In the end he wants her always to be happy and healthy.

Dominic is grateful for the opportunity he has been given by Steve Asmussen and Scott Blasi, credits family and friends for their support and feels blessed that Rachel Alexandra is in his life. He credits her for helping him to be a fulfilled person today.

On behalf of Rachel Alexandra fans everywhere, we salute you Dominic Terry. The work you do with Rachel is so critically important in allowing her to be the incomparable horse that she is. Your work may be very early in the morning, without the watchful eyes of millions of adoring fans, but we appreciate everything that you do. You are a true unsung hero. Godspeed to you and Rachel Alexandra.


LDP said...

This was a very interesting piece, and i overall enjoyed it. RA is fantastic, but Curlin will always be my fave. Good luck to Kensei this weekend, and RA the next.

Brian Zipse said...

Rachel Alexandra and Curlin...not bad horses to like LDP.

Celeste said...

Thanks, Brian, for the insight to Rachel's main man. It is wonderful to recognize those behind the scenes who do so much to prepare the horses we love for our afternoon thrills. Thank you to Dominic!

Heather said...

very well written. being a Rachel fan, it's so sweet to read about how she was harder to handle until Dominic came along and started working with her. i love reading how a relationship can just spark between a horse and rider and, it's very obvious that there is a real relationship between them! Kudos to Dominic for the job well done with Rachel and all the horses he rides!