I was sitting in the TV studio enjoying a cheap cigar. I did the pre-race handicapping, and today we were venturing into a new area. There was going to be a retired rider who would do the post-race interview. She was beautiful, and had the confidence to go along. That was until they started counting her in, and she jumped up from her seat and started sweating profusely. My boss looked at me with stogie in hand, and said “get in there!”
The connections to be interviewed were friendly faces. It was Mr. David Pate and his happy owners who had started celebrating early. I popped into the seat unprepared, and David Pate carried me smoothly as we talked about his big win. His owners were in studio, and not a loss for words. Some of them were even coherent… It was one of those times that made you glad to be there. That’s the way I remember David Pate.
It was at River Downs on a hot Saturday afternoon. Hell, they were all hot… There was a man walking behind his groom leading his horse into the paddock. I couldn’t make him out from the distance. He walked slowly, and seemed in no hurry. It was a confident cowboy walk that some have and others will never understand. It wasn’t about getting there in a hurry, as it was all about the journey. About 15 minutes later, I saw him straightening his cap as they were heading to the winner’s circle. That’s how I will remember David Pate.
There was a great article written in the Courier-Journal, and as always Jennie Rees keeps us up-to-speed with the world of racing. Here is an excerpt from her article:
Trainer David E. Pate, who spent much of a half-century in horse racing training in Kentucky, died Saturday at Cincinnati’s University Hospital after complications from a brain aneurysm. He was 70.
Pate, a former leading trainer at River Downs in Cincinnati, won 565 races for purses exceeding $5.6 million, according to Equibase statistics. His eight stakes victories included Churchill Downs’ 2005 Bashford Manor with Deputy G, whom he trained for Louisville’s Spade Stable syndicate.
“David consistently personified the best of a Kentucky horseman; professional, hard working and humble,” said Turfway Park general manager Chip Bach. “Regardless of his success on any particular day he would always greet you with a smile and a kind word. He will be missed by his Turfway family.”
According to a Turfway Park bio of the trainer, Pate grew up riding horses on his family’s farm in Georgia and was a jockey for several years.
“Once I started riding, I knew I wanted to train,” he said. “I learned something from every trainer I ever rode for.” Also with his riding experience, he told Turfway’s publicity department, “I’m not so quick to blame the jockey when things don’t go right.”
I had the pleasure of working with one of his daughters (Ida), and I knew some of his other children. Good people.. The kind that would be first to lend a hand, or celebrate alongside your big day. I can still see that quiet cowboy walking up to the paddock. I can still remember how calm and cool he was after the big win. If you look up the definition of a hard working, unassuming, good natured horseman. I am sure you will see his picture. That’s how I will remember David Pate…