I’ve talked to winners all year. They’ve been happy, thrilled, overjoyed, amazed, shocked, humbled, awed. But those attitudes are all battling for second place behind the conversation I had with Jose Villegas last week.
The Laurel Park-based exercise rider flashed an optimism, a humility and a grace in as trying a situation as anyone will ever face. A horse Villegas was riding broke down and fell while training at Laurel Park in September, sending the 43-year-old hard to the dirt. Villegas has fallen before, bounced up and walked away like so many before him. Not this time. The native of Mexico may never walk again, a spinal injury leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
The world would forgive Villegas some disappointment, a little sadness, even some “Why me?” woe, anger or depression.
Not even close.
“I’m doing OK,” he said after answering his mobile phone on the second ring. “I’m in...