ARCADIA, Calif. — At the end of the day it did not matter that Commander finished ninth by 37 lengths in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita on Friday. All that mattered to owner Glen Todd was that he was able to enjoy the moment in a winner’s circle of his own creation with the four people he loves most: adult daughters Shelley and Dana; trainer Troy Taylor and jockey Mario Gutierrez.
Todd managed to keep it under wraps that Taylor, 81, almost didn’t make it to Santa Anita after spending last week at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle under the constant surveillance of world-renowned heart surgeon Dr. Mark Dedomenico.
“He had lost 20 pounds and was in constant pain,” Todd said Friday. “It was his back and hip. We didn’t know if he’d be mobile enough to make the trip. But here he is.”
Todd, the 65-year-old no-nonsense leading owner at Hastings Racecourse for the past six years, struggled with his emotions when he tried to describe what this weekend means to him.
“First of all, it’s the Breeder’s Cup at one of the most beautiful race tracks in the world and we’ve got a horse entered,” he says. “I never thought it would happen. Then, to be with Mario and Troy again at Santa Anita, it was something I just had to share with my daughters. I told them we were going to make it a family trip and take in all of the proceedings and festivities and enjoy each minute of it. I figured they’ve been with me every step of the way, so why not now?”
Those steps were taken along a cracked and sometimes broken stairway. Shelley and Dana lost their mom Sandra in 2006 when she suffered an aneurysm, her passing coming just months before learning their dad had inflammation of the pancreas resulting in kidney failure. (“I thought I was a goner,” he would admit later.)
Glen, who today owns 116 horses and numerous successful businesses, has said on several occasions: “There’s no point being the richest guy in the graveyard. You’re dead a long time. So live for the moment. This past year I’ve been living a fantasy.”
It began, of course, with Mario coming within a tendon injury of I’ll Have Another winning the Triple Crown after capturing the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. It has been a year when Todd has laid claim to 25 stakes victories as an owner, unheard of in racing circles. But nothing made him happier than to see the courage and determination of his trainer showing up at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup.
“It wouldn’t be the same without Troy here with us,” he said. “To be honest, I thought we’d lost him.”
The legendary Taylor was back in the barns late Friday afternoon looking after Commander and thinking ahead to next season at Hastings Racecourse.
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