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Thoroughbred racing’s small world

I love to watch the horses run. There is just something special about any horse race. Standing on the rail watching these magnificent beasts thunder down the track is a thrill that cannot be duplicated. When you throw in the pageantry of the major races like the Kentucky Derby run this past Saturday, you have the makings of a sporting event that ranks right up there with any bowl game, Super Bowl, Final Four or Olympic event. I’ve been to horse races but never one of the big ones. Seeing each of the Triple Crown races is on my bucket list. Thoroughbred breeding and racing are big business – business that Georgia has missed out on because it considers it okay for poor people to squander their meager resources on a state-run lottery but parimutuel betting is an unforgivable sin. Nearly 120,000 thoroughbred foals are registered worldwide each year with about a quarter of those being born in the United States. The breeding, training and racing of these horses employs thousands as do ancillary businesses like hay and feed production and transportation. Given those foal numbers, the odds are against a young trainer associating with a team that manages to field a top flight horse but that is exactly what happened to Jack Sisterson who has many ties to the area. Jack grew up in Sunderland, England and showed an early interest in the horse business. His father came to Thomaston to coach the Upson-Lee soccer team where Jack became a star player. He went on to play soccer and football at Louisville where he majored in equine business. After college, he got into the thoroughbred business, worked his way up and is now assistant trainer of I’ll Have Another, the winner of the Run for the Roses Saturday. Jack is suddenly a celebrity. He was interviewed by Kenny Mayne on ESPN and early Monday was on his way to Maryland for the Preakness and the next step in the quest for the Triple Crown. Jack’s sister, Kate, went to Gordon where she studied music under Steve Mulder of Barnesville. She met her husband, Justin Evans, in music theory class and they performed together in the Gordon productions of Grease and Fiddler on the Roof. Justin and Kate lived in Barnesville for a while before moving to Mc-Donough but they still sing for Mulder with Griffin Choral Arts where I met them earlier this year. Last week at a GCA practice, Justin mentioned his brother had a horse in the Derby. He gave me the name but I forgot it. When I saw the Derby field listed Saturday, I remembered the name I’ll Have Another. I texted a friend who I knew to be at Churchill Downs for the big event and asked him to bet $10 on the pony with the local connection. I hope he got the message.

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