by Tom Finkel
Unreal, who'd cheered on RFT to his maiden win at Fairmount back on March 6, was not on hand for our pony's second score, because it was raining like hell and cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.
Son of a bitch.
The time of the race, a $3,200 claiming event for non-winners of two races, was 1:13.80. Jonesin' Rage, trained by legendary Fairmount Park jockey Dave Gall, finished second to complete a $35 exacta that Unreal surely would have bet if we'd been there instead of home, drinking too much.
In case you've been sleeping under a rock, River Front Times came into being two years ago, when Unreal, as part of our very complex investment strategy, asked O'Brien, the protagonist of this 2003 feature story by then-staff writer Mike Seely, how much he'd charge us to rename a horse after our source of income. The owner initially quoted us a price of $1 million but settled for $100, the fee the Jockey Club charges to process a name-change. That's how a two-year-old colt he'd recently purchased named Pollys Jaybird became River Front Times.
Now that RFT has won at this level, he'll face tougher company next time out. We'll update this post as soon as we hook up with O'Brien.
[Update 4-19-07 1:45 p.m.] Lou O'Brien says he's very pleased with RFT's progress. "He's sound, very healthy," says the owner. "His problem has always been that he's a big play-baby. He's starting to grow up a little bit. He was very green. He's showing some maturity now: knuckling down, paying attention."
And what's next for River Front Times? "Probably raise the [claiming] price, up to four or five thousand. The main thing is we've got him going in the right direction. We don't want to overwhelm him competitively. We have a plan for every horse. As their performance level increases, we move them up. We'll see how he progresses."
Depending on how the horse does, O'Brien might ultimately opt to ship him to Hoosier Park, outside Indianapolis. "We'll see. I don't know if I'm gonna run him here or if I'm going to take him to Indiana," he says. "We've got to run him where we can make the most money." Whatever the case, O'Brien says we can expect to see RFT at Fairmount "at least until this screwball meet's over."