The Longines New York Masters is not a quiet show, and during the Six Bar ‘Masters Power’ competition, the crowd couldn’t hide their delight as first Devin Ryan and Florida, and then Jane Richard Philips and Calinesse de Guldenboom, cleared the massive, nearly-1.70m vertical at the end of the indoor venue at NYCB Live in Uniondale, New York.
But when Daniel Michan Halbinger rode his black Oldenburg mare, Cosa Nostra (Conthargos—Quicenta, by Quintender), into the ring and cleared the series of careful fences to the very top of the standards—including the custom ones made to accommodate the unusual height of the final element—even the commentators (including yours truly) were held momentarily speechless.
When you’ve been racing Thoroughbreds for 41 years like Mike Smith, you pick up some practices and mantras that stay with you. They don’t protect you from the disappointing losses and aching injuries - of which Mike has had plenty - but they do remind you that when things go right, you’ve earned it.
“I hate the word luck,” said Mike, who, at 52 years old, has been inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame, won two Kentucky Derbies and Preakness Stakes, three Belmont Stakes, and twenty-six Breeders’ Cup World Championships. “It seems like the harder you work the luckier you get, but I don’t necessarily believe in it. People are certainly blessed, but using the word luck seems lazy to me. Some people say, ‘well he got lucky,’ but I worked hard for each and every opportunity and I have made the most out of them.”