July 29, 2010

His Ashes Were Laid to Rest at the Finish Line


To Alan Seewald, who died suddenly this Spring, the Haskell was to be his Kentucky Derby. Seewald’s last wish, which he expressed to his wife Kate the day before he passed, was that Uptowncharlybrown run in the Haskell.

As the trainer of Uptowncharlybrown, Seewald knew that he had the kind of talent needed to compete in New Jersey’s most important race. He also saw, in this powerful son of Limehouse, the best horse to ever set foot in his barn. In a career that spanned four decades, it was Monmouth Park that Seewald called home, and at Monmouth, the Haskell is the big one. So it would be the big race for his big horse.

Suffering a fatal heart attack in his sleep, on the morning of April 12, Seewald would not live to see the big day. Despite his death, and subsequent transfer of Charly to the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin, the first part of his wish will come true, however. Uptowncharlybrown will be one of eight three-year-olds to line up in the starting gate for Sunday’s one million dollar Haskell Invitational.

Uptowncharlybrown will have his work cut out for him, when he takes on a deep field that includes juvenile champion and Preakness winner, Lookin At Lucky, and Kentucky Derby hero Super Saver. Derby runner-up Ice Box, Preakness runner-up First Dude, and the up-and-coming Trappe Shot also figure to receive heavy attention from the bettors. Rounding out the field will be two salty colts in Afleet Again, and Our Dark Knight, who like Charly, may have what it takes to pull off an upset.

Is Charly good enough to get the job done? I think he may be. Uptowncharlybrown won his first two starts for fun before losing his last four starts in the Sam F. Davis, Tampa Bay Derby, Lexington, and Belmont Stakes. In each of those races, Charly was competitive, but not able to take home a big prize. Frankly, he will need to run his career best to win the Haskell, but it is certainly within his reach. In this crop of sophomores, without a major stand out, Charly is already not that far from the top. Not blessed with any racing luck in his last four races, it may just come down to things falling his way at Monmouth.

Charly will have thousands rooting for him on Sunday. Foremost among them will be his large ownership group that race under the name Fantasy Lane Stable. A nicer group of owners you will never meet. I have been lucky enough to get to know some of them, and I am clearly better off for being able to call them friends. Folks like Jennifer Weigand, Patrick Sheehan, and John Popovich would literally give you the shirt off their backs, if that is what you may need. They deserve this, and they will get a big win someday with one of their horses. Why not Charly in the Haskell?

No matter how Charly fares in the Haskell, The spirit of Alan Seewald will be at the finish line waiting for him in more ways than one. I know somehow he will be there to see the horse he loved, run in the race he yearned to win, and there is good reason to feel this way. In a fitting ceremony, Alan Seewald’s ashes were laid to rest at the Monmouth Park finish line. You can bet that this writer will be pulling for Charly to be the one to reach that finish line first.

I ask you, how can you do anything but root for Uptowncharlybrown in Sunday’s Haskell?


13 comments:

Sharon Scarpello said...

After reading a touching story like that, I couldn't root for anyone else but Charly. Add me to the list of fans.

darlene said...

can't do it cause it would be the kiss of death My kinda luck but I love the story Knew he had passed didn't know he was at the finishline

Sherry Nichols said...

Great story Brian.....you can bet I will be yelling for Charley....there is too much love there at that track on Sunday to not want to see a dream come true at the finish line.

william said...

i also will be rooting for uptowncharlybrown...through you i have learned so much more about him and his story...how true it would be a fairy tale ending for a good man from monmouth...thanks brian for keeping his story going

ja.raymond said...

C'mon, Charly, you can do it! it's your turn now! :)

Bob Hachemeister Jr. said...

Brian, what a heartfelt, touching article and i'm sure i speak for all of Charly's partners when i say "THANK YOU", the icing on the cake would not only be for Charly to come home safe....but to reach Alan's ashes before any one else....good luck and GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!

Brian Zipse said...

Thank you everyone, and Bob, I wish you all the luck in the world on Sunday. Go Charly!

Johnnie Pop said...

As a friend or Brian Zipse and partial owner of UptownCharlyBrown, I would like to takes a moment to thank Brian for his beautiful piece on Alan and Charly. I would also like to thank all of you, the fans, for all the well wishes and support for our horse. Truth be told,...win, lose or dead heat, nothing can change our feelings for this colt. He has taken us on the ride of a lifetime. He owes us nothing. From his Maiden score to this coming Sunday, he doesn't just run for us, he runs for all of you. The Blue Collar folks who work hard every day. He is "our" horse! My wish is that all come home safe and sound. God Bless and keep you all. Alan, this is for you....

Always,
John Popovich
Partner, Fantasy Lane Stables

Celeste said...

Great article, Brian. Since I've liked this colt all along, it's not hard to cheer for him in this race once again. Besides being a fan of the horse, I'm a fan of his connections, more so now with the lovely comment from Johnnie Pop. Thanks!

Kimness said...

Wow - VERY touching story Brian. After reading this - how can I not hope for Uptowncharlybrown to hit the wire first?
(dead heat with LAL, preferably)

Jen W. said...

Johnnie, you are SO right! He owes us nothing! We ask him and he runs for us with such heart!

Thank you SO MUCH, Brian, for writing such a wonderful tribute to Alan! We SO miss him. I still remember sitting down to dinner with him and Bob and a few of the partners after we got Charly at the sale in Ocala...OMG. The banter between the two of them was PRICELESS! If I only knew, I would have videotaped the whole dinner! That was the only trip I took that year, besides going to Tampa to see Charly break his maiden. People were saying to me that's not much of a vacation, but I'll tell you, that was one of the best vacations I've ever taken!!! It means more to me now than you can imagine!

I SO hope Charly does well tomorrow, not for me...I already feel like the luckiest person in the world! But I hope he does well for everyone who put their faith in him and is supporting him cheering him on and everyone who loves him and takes care of him. I want him to win for Alan, but also for Kiaran. BOTH trainers SO believe in his ability and put a LOT of heart into his care and well being!

For as little as my opinion matters, I believe in that ability, too...I KNOW Charly should be with this class of 3 year olds. I just hope he has a safe, worry free trip! I hope ALL the horses do, but I really hope it for my buddy, Charly! I can't wait to give him carrots on Monday!!!!!

Brian, you're the BEST!!!!!

Brian Zipse said...

Thanks John, thanks Jen. I am pleased that you enjoyed the piece ... I meant every word. Go get 'em tomorrow!!!

LDP said...

I'm sorry he had to be scratched. He is not one of my favorites this year, but he does have a nice story behind him.