Lee Einsidler stood outside the Belmont Park winner’s circle Saturday and reflected on how horse racing has helped him get through the last 10 months, something made unspeakably difficult after the sudden death of his son, Aaron, last August.
“The last year has been such a horrible year for everyone,” Einsidler said. “In our family, we had a terrible tragedy. I woke up today and thought, we’ve got someone smiling down on us.”
There was nothing but smiles after Casa Creed, owned by Einsidler in partnership with New York sports radio icon Mike Francesa, closed from eighth to win the Jaipur Stakes by 2 lengths.
“It’s so special to win a Grade 1 in your backyard,” said Einsidler, who is from Flushing, Queens. “To do it on Belmont Stakes Day makes it even better.”
Winning trainer Bill Mott, who also saddled second-place finisher Chewing Gum, was thrilled for the connections.
“You know, that was great,” Mott said. “I love the horses, training horses and I love the competition and winning, but it’s really about the people. Winning for people like Lee. That win means a lot to him. He’ll be excited about this for a long time.”
It was also a home-track win and the first Grade 1 for Francesa, who grew up in Nassau County and graduated from St. John’s University. He would go to the track in between classes in the morning and work in the afternoon.
“This is an incredible thrill,” said Francesa, whose JEH Racing Stable is named for his children, Jack, Emily and Harrison. “I’ve been involved with horses a long time, and to get my first Grade 1 win here is special.”
Casa Creed, by Jimmy Creed out of the Bellamy Road mare Achalaya, had lost five straight races at a mile on turf before Mott cut him back to win the 7-furlong Elusive Quality Stakes April 24. That prompted Mott to try the 6-furlong Jaipur.
“It looks like sprints suit him,” Mott said.
Casa Creed had closed from next to last in the Elusive Quality, despite chasing a pedestrian pace of :24 and :48. The fractions in the Jaipur, set by even-money favorite Bound For Nowhere, were :22.06 and :44.65, and the top two finishers capitalized, closing from fifth and ninth, respectively, at the top of the stretch.
“He worked amazing Tuesday (3 furlongs in :36 4/5) and we knew coming into the race he was feeling great. We were very confident, but the gamblers weren’t,” Einsidler said of the 10-1 shot.
In a year that has had more than its share of bad days, Saturday was a very good one for Einsidler, who was joined in the celebration by his son, Jeffrey.
“This is a great diversion from things that are going on in people’s lives,” he said. “I’ve always thought, if you could throw everyone’s problems in the air, you want to catch your own. This puts a smile on my face. I’d like to thank my son, Aaron, for that.”