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Steve Luhm: Few horses more deserving of victory than Barigan Boy
Off the beaten path » Jockey holds on for dear life — and victory.
First Published Jan 11 2014 04:04 pm • Last Updated Jan 11 2014 11:25 pm

I’ve gotten three speeding tickets in my life — two while I was driving to a racetrack.

I wasn’t running particularly late, either time. Nor was I distracted because I planned to make a gigantic wager on a horse that would either secure my short-term financial future or send me to my brother for a no-interest loan.

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I just like the races, the atmosphere surrounding the racetrack and nearly 100 percent of the people associated with the sport.

After I jump in the car and head for the track, I usually end up thinking about the thousands of races I have seen, the hundreds of special memories I have stored away and the scores of friends I have made while pursuing one of my favorite hobbies.

Speed limits?

When I’m going to the racetrack, I can take ’em or leave ’em. I have other things on my mind.

Those who follow me on Twitter know that I enjoy horse racing and good stories about it.

This week, Craig Morrison sent me a video link to one of the most bizarre races I’ve ever seen. It took place at Morphettville Racecourse near Adelaide, Australia, where he lives.

In this race, a horse named Barigan Boy broke from the outside post in a six-horse field.

Apprentice jockey Omer Ay got in trouble immediately, when his feet came out of the irons, forfeiting almost all ability to control his horse and putting him in serious danger.

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Ay looked more like someone galloping their pet around a pasture instead of a jockey riding a 1,200-pound thoroughbred at speed of almost 40 mph.

"... He’s got no control of this horse at all," the track announcer barked.

In such a situation, a rider will almost always ease up on the horse, slow it to a stop and wait for a day when Lady Luck is in a better mood.

On this day, however, Barigan Boy took Ay to the front and opened a three-length lead as the field raced through the turn and into the stretch.

With 100 yards to go, a horse named Money Bags charged from fourth place and thrust his neck in front. But incredibly, Barigan Boy fought back along the rail. With Ay hanging on, he hit the wire a neck in front.

"What a performance," the announcer shouted. "Unbelievable. Barigan Boy has won. ... What a remarkable effort to get this horse home."

Barigan Boy’s trainer, Grant Young, spoke to news.com.au after the once-in-a-lifetime race.

"I was a little worried he was going to fall off," he said. "[But] he’s done a great job. I think most jockeys would have pulled off."

For Ay, getting to the finish line in one piece was an accomplishment.

Winning, he said, "was just a bonus."

Said Young: "I thought we’d found another way to get beat. But he really deserved to win."

Like few horses I’ve ever seen.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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