Ready’s Rocket was barely fifteen hands tall, scarcely bigger than a pony, but he was one of the most courageous horses ever to live at Old Friends. He won the most races at Churchill Downs of any horse in that track’s long history—eleven of them. He also won at Keeneland, Turfway, Ellis Park and Delta Downs.
Ready’s Rocket and his jockey, Calvin Borel, were well-paired, two dauntless warriors that when they were on their game, nothing and nobody could stop. Ready didn’t give Calvin much chance for the signature “Bo-rail” dash up the inside rail for a last moment win. Ready’s Rocket wanted to be in front all the time. He raced as fast and furiously as the Wildcats play basketball. Calvin understood and let him do what he did most happily and best—sprint to the front and out-brave all comers.
When the gritty little gelding’s race career was done, owner-trainer Tim Glyshaw, along with co-owners Deann Baer and Margaret Woodside, enabled his retirement with us. We found he was aptly named. Sometimes we called him Ready, sometimes the Rocket. He was scrappy, gutsy, determined to show the world that little though he was, he wasn’t stepping down for anyone. He earned respect from his paddock mates. You could tell that’s how he’d decided it would be from foal-hood on.
Perhaps surprisingly, Ready’s Rocket settled into retired life with evident contentment. He liked to spend some of his time apart from his paddock mates, but he always fit into the herd, definitely one of the gang. He spent his last years with one particular friend, Geronimo. The little dark brown Kentuckian and big chestnut Chilean were comfortable companions in a paddock up near the tree line.
But words are just words. Let the Rocket himself show you why the steward’s official description of one of his Churchill races was that he won “on own courage.”
Here is Ready’s Rocket’s record 11th win at Churchill Downs, May 1, 2012.
Here’s another, on July 2, 2009.
See what it was like to ride Ready’s Rocket. Calvin Borel wore a jockey cam for a work, Nov 1, 2011
At Churchill Downs and at Old Friends we’ll always miss you, our Rocket Man, our valiant soul.
photos by Laura