An enthusiastic crowd turned out at Charles Town Races this spring to see the world's top-ranked racehorse take the next steps on a possible Horse of the Year campaign in a $1.5 million race.
The script didn't go according to plan and nothing went right for Shared Belief, who suffered a fractured right hip in the Grade 3 Charles Town Classic. Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was on hand, watching every move his star charge made, greeting thankful fans during the day and enduring the moments when Mike Smith pulled Shared Belief up.
Joe Clancy's piece, titled "A man in the crowd, with a horse" was published April 21 and offered a glimpse into the scene.
"A spectator carrying a beer, a cigarette, a program, a smile and three days of stubble ambles up next to the trainer. 'Thanks for bringing him here, Jerry,' the man says. Hollendorfer nods, that's all, turns around and heads back inside the building.
"Hurrying now, he pauses as the last bettors discuss what to do and shove more money at tellers. Hollendorfer turns right and stands in the back of a small simulcast area with flat screens, long tables, chairs. He finds the home track's feed amid a sea of blinking races, looks up as the horses start to load, sees an empty seat - first one on the left, back row, next to a big guy in a black flat-brimmed ball cap - and takes it.
"The trainer of the favorite for the richest race in the state sits on a maroon plastic chair, places his left hand on a pillar and watches a TV just like the paying customers.
"None of them see much."
Check out No. 7 on our 15 for 2015 list of popular stories
Other stories in the 15 for 2015
No. 10: Lexington's hot ticket
No. 11: Rage for the sake of the sport
No. 12: Funerals and Field Trips
No. 13: The ultimate workhorse
No. 14: Horse racing in Georgia?