Most people know from reading her work that Courier-Journal turf writer Jennie Rees has a passion for the ponies. Most people may not know that she shares this passion for horses with her husband, Pat Dupuy. Pat Dupuy is a horse owner and trainer with only one horse in his barn, Strike Impact. You’d think that would make the horse more like a pet, but a savvy horseman knows it’s a business. Still, that doesn’t mean the horse doesn’t get his fine share of carrots and peppermints.
Recently, I happened to meet Jennie on a day when her husband's horse was running in the Grade 3 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland. I accompanied her to the paddock before the race to admire the horse. On a cold and rainy day at Keeneland, he sparkled. The darkness in the sky could not dull this horse's shiny, dappled coat. He was absolutely dappalicious! Strike Impact was rated at a morning line of 15-1, but certainly could have been the favorite if this had been a beauty pageant.
After the horses left the paddock, we walked out to the track to catch the race. Strike Impact’s competition would include previous Breeders' Cup Sprint champion, Chamberlain Bridge, and the previous Shakertown champion, Silver Timber. Jennie had the nervous excitement of a mother watching her child's first soccer game. As the horses dashed toward the finish, we loudly yelled and cheered, as if the momentum of our voices could propel Strike Impact across the wire first. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and he finished fifth. However, he was only a length behind Chamberlain Bridge and almost two lengths in front of Silver Timber. He proved that day that he belonged with the heavyweights.
In this Thursday’s fifth race at Churchill Downs, Strike Impact will again face a Breeder’s Cup champion when he meets Furthest Land, who won the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Amongst his competition, Strike Impact has the best turf speed at the distance and his speed in his last race was faster than his competitors’ last races. Strike Impact is listed as the fourth choice in the field of six at 5-1.
According to Jennie, Strike Impact is still dappled from head to toe and is doing very well. Win or lose, you can bet that Strike Impact will have his own cheering section on Thursday. So, if you’re at Churchill Downs on Thursday with the other locals celebrating Derby week, consider Strike Impact you’re hot tip. The race is scheduled to run at 2:48 PM.
Photo: Courtesy Jessie Oswald