Back in mid-June 2016 a colt named Contrarytoordinary battled throughout a $21,000 maiden race at Lone Star Park with Sophisticatedbling before pulling away in the stretch to win his debut by three-quarters of a length.
Although the 5-furlong maiden special was Contrarytoordinary’s first race, it was not his first time at the races.
Contrarytoordinary was well known at Lone Star during the 2016 Thoroughbred meeting. Thursdays the son of Valid Expectations had the job as the test-barn escort, where he would escort the racehorses from the holding barn to the paddock. He was a pony horse Thursdays, but the rest of the week he was trained just like any other member of Dan Pish’s string.
Contrarytoordinary received his name due to his energetic and unpredictable personality.
“I named him this because the first time I took him out of the round pen he bolted and bucked with all his might,” Pish said. “I thought to myself ‘he is going to need a lot of long slow miles and I am going to train him to run in a contrary to ordinary way,’
“I have taken this training approach with some of my other racehorses, just not to this extent.”
Pish started riding Contrarytoordinary himself in the mornings. To get him ready to be the escort, Pish put Contrarytoordinary in a stock saddle and performed multiple different tasks, ranging from working calves to ponying other racehorses in the Pish barn.
Watching Contrarytoordinary perform his escorting duties, one would never know he possessed such an energetic personality. Pish noted that the colt’s manners and confidence had improved since he had been given the escort job. His manners had improved so much that it wasn’t until Contrarytoordinary had broken his maiden that the head outrider became aware he was a 2-year-old colt in training.
“I had this job in mind for Contrary because it is such a long walk back and forth to the paddock and he also would have to go through the tunnel that leads into the paddock,” Pish said. “When we arrived at Lone Star Park I asked the head outrider if the guy doing the escort job that year had a horse to use. When he told me they were in need of a horse for this job I started setting Contrary up to be the perfect escort horse.”
Contrarytoordinary raced twice more after his maiden victory, finishing sixth in the Texas Thoroughbred Futurity at Lone Star and fourth in an allowance-optional at Retama Park. He also went on to be a pony escort for the racehorses at the 2016 Gillespie County Fair meet that July and August.
After a short turnout, Contrarytoordinary came back in 2017 to be a multiple stakes placed 3-year-old. He finished second in each of his four starts, including the Jim’s Orbit Stakes and Groovy Stakes, all at Sam Houston.
Contrarytoordinary is back to work in 2018 as a stable pony in Pish’s operation. Pish said he could return to the races, or perhaps take on even another job.
“I am playing it by ear as of now,” he said. “Due to the theory that I believe he can excel in the rodeo world, I may give him that opportunity if I think he can be a top competitor in that occupation. If not, I will run him again.”
Racing fans will be smart to keep their eyes out for Contrarytoordinary the next time they’re at a Texas racetrack – either near the winner’s circle, alongside other runners going to the paddock or out on the track – because one never knows where this unordinary horse may turn up.