There’s no crying in horse racing. At least there was none the morning of May 5 at Barn 40 on the Churchill Downs backside the day after Archarcharch drew the dreaded one-hole for the May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Owner Robert Yagos, resplendent in his gold Archarcharch jacket, was upbeat and dry-eyed while waiting for the Arch colt to come out for his morning gallop.
“We’re just happy to be here and have the opportunity to run in the Derby,” said Yagos. “Most people never get that chance. How can you think negative?”
Yagos hails from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., about an hour north of New York City. When he was young his father used to sneak him into Saratoga Racecourse a couple of times a summer, and Yagos had an immediate affinity for the horses.
After joining the Air Force, Yagos was stationed right outside Little Rock, Ark., in Jacksonville.
“I started going to Oaklawn Park as soon as I got there and began thinking one day I’d really like to own a horse,” he said. “And about 20 years ago we started buying them and breeding some and just kept right on going.”
Yagos eventually settled in Arkansas, and started an auto salvage business 30 years ago. He buys two horses per year. His biggest success before Archarcharch came with Spotsgone, a six-time stakes winner of nearly $700,000 that trainer William “Jinks” Fires bought for $20,000.
“He could run on anything,” said Yagos. “He won 10 races overall, including two stakes in Chicago.”
Fires was at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling auction looking for a horse or two for Yagos, but they got outbid on a couple that had caught Fires’ eye. Fires liked the conformation on an Arch colt, and Yagos gave the thumbs-up after examining his pedigree.
“Jinks has liked this horse from the day he began training him,” Yagos said of the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner. “You try and not get too excited because every time you get one you think ‘this could be the one.’ We tried to wait and see what happened, and he’s progressed every step of the way. Now it’s time to get excited.”
And not even drawing the rail was going dent that feeling.