“When you’re riding, it takes four minutes. When you’re watching, it takes forever.” That’s how Cyril Murphy summed up the difference between being a jockey and a trainer.
In his riding career, Murphy had a couple of iconic four-minute moments at Far Hills – the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Grand National with Quel Senor and the 2006 Appleton with Party Airs come to mind. In his training career, he added a big one Saturday.
Murphy, the newest farm trainer for Irv Naylor, ventured to Far Hills Oct. 19 for the first time since guiding Guelph to a second in the 2007 Peapack. With him, he brought Sacred Soul. The 6-year-old son of Perfect Soul toyed with seven rivals in the second division of the Foxbrook, scoring by 8 comfortable lengths over Alburj and Powerofone. Making his fifth jump start for his third trainer this year, Sacred Soul relaxed off the pace set by Absolum, took over at will, survived a blunder at the last to win for the third time this season. Ross Geraghty earned his 11th win for the season (two behind Darren Nagle and one behind Paddy Young in the title race).
In five starts, Sacred Soul owns three wins and two seconds, trailing Bill Pape’s Martini Brother and Bluegrass Summer by less than $5,000 for leading novice honors
“He’s performed for everybody who’s had him, going all the way back to the flat. It’s no reflection on anybody who’s had him but it’s a fair reflection on the horse, he’s just a racehorse, all you have to do is put him in the right spot and give him a chance and he’ll perform,” said Murphy, who took over Sacred Soul from Leslie Young after Saratoga. “He’s very, very straightforward, he goes out, he exercises, comes home. He’s just a nice horse to be around, very uncomplicated, very straightforward, enjoys his exercise. You walk in the barn, you wouldn’t know he’s there until you go looking for him.”
Sacred Soul won twice for $5,000 claiming tags at Colonial Downs last summer before being purchased by Naylor for trainer Brianne Slater. Schooled over the winter, he finished second at Camden, won at Middleburg, returned to win at Great Meadow, finished second on the flat at Colonial for Slater. He finished second in the M.G. Walsh at Saratoga for Young. Murphy took over and gave him a prep on the flat at Shawan, then aimed at Far Hills.
Murphy was confident when he saw the entries.
“The overnight came out, it looked like it might be the stronger division, but at the same time, off what he had done this spring and in Saratoga, it felt like he was the horse to beat,” Murphy said. “I said to Rosco just sit third or fourth, you don’t have to beat anybody, it’s up to them to beat you, just give him a clean trip.”
Murphy was even more confident watching the $75,000 stakes.
“When he turned down the back, the race for me was over, he just improved his position with his jumping,” Murphy said. “What he did at the last was just a lack of concentration, coming up over the hill, he was still a fresh horse when he pulled up, if he was a tired horse, it probably would have put him on the ground.”
Sacred Soul provided another thrill for Murphy at Far Hills. It was different than when Quel Senor won the Grand National. A Group 3 winner in France, Quel Senor promised big things but had failed to deliver until that day when he put it together, turning away a sharp field that included Lord Zada, Praise The Prince, Pinkie Swear, It’s A Giggle and Hokan. For the jockey, it was the culmination of a quiet, professional career, spent riding and working for Quel Senor’s trainer Tom Voss.
“As good as it was Saturday, it wasn’t a match on Quel Senor. The day he won was absolutely huge. It was exhilarating with Quel Senor and it was satisfying with Sacred Soul, because I was expecting that from him,” Murphy said. “When you’re out there riding, you’re dictating what’s happening. When you’re sitting on the hill, all you’ve done is give the instructions to the rider and it’s up to them. It’s a very different feeling, a very different feeling.”