It was a comment LaPenta regrets making, mainly using a harsh word like fever, but he admits to being in a state of shock after seeing
What caused the horse to run the way he did after all his troubles, whether it was physical or mental, no one knows. But if there is one thing LaPenta is sure of, it’s that
“I can’t believe I could have a catastrophe like I had on Saturday,” he said. “If there is one thing everyone who knows me will tell you, I’m an honest person. I put money into the game, I bring my family into the game, and we’re having fun and having some success. It’s a great thing. How that could go up in flames overnight is amazing to me. Believe me, if there’s one thing in my life I take pride in, it’s that I never go home and lose sleep at night because I didn’t tell somebody the truth. I may make a mistake, but I never, ever lie.
“Does anyone think Nick or I would bring a horse like this to a $350,000 race and jeopardize his health and do something terrible to his reputation? We’d have to be out of our minds to send this poor horse out sick. Nick sleeps with this horse; he’s calling the barn all day and all night. He’ll wake up at two o’clock in the morning and call the barn. I have 24-hour guard service. Do you know how many times I spoke to the doctor last week and the doctor said ‘he’s fine; his blood count is fine?’ I just don’t want to see Nick get dragged through the mud. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with him in the last three months in which he said, ‘Bob, we’re not going to do anything with this horse unless he’s absolutely perfect.’”
Although the debate about disclosure still exists, especially with a 1-20 shot who is one of the top two favorites for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), LaPenta emphasizes the fact that there was never any hesitation about running the horse, who was given a clean bill of health and who was acting perfectly normal.
“I had 25 family members there and everyone was having a great time,” LaPenta said. “When the horse walked past the stands he looked like Adonis; he was gorgeous. We’ve got babies on our shoulders and the people are cheering, and then everything went wrong.
“I didn’t see what everyone saw on the head-on shots. And when this horse came around the turn and into the stretch the world came to an end. I almost fell down; I was standing there in shock. I had no idea what happened; no clue. We still have no idea. I mean, we’re going to the Kentucky Derby with the favorite. We get letters from
“He’s been checked over completely and we haven’t found a thing wrong with him. The whole day was a calamity of errors. I still haven’t been able to watch the replay, because I’ll throw up. But there is one thing I can guarantee you – going into the race, there was nothing wrong with that horse.”
So, for now, LaPenta and Zito will draw a line through the race and continue with their plan to run in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and hope