Moquett Still Feeling 'Surreal' Day After Foster

(from Churchill Downs notes)
The morning after Seek Gold's stunning upset in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) was, in the words of trainer Ron Moquett, "surreal."

Bowman Couch Racing LLC's Seek Gold, making his first start for his new owners and Moquett, pulled one of the greatest upsets in the 132-year history of Churchill Downs when the 91-1 shot caught Perfect Drift on the wire to win the $844,500 Stephen Foster. Moquett said the fact that he had won such a significant race was slowly sinking in on Sunday morning.

"If you don't believe there is a racing god, then you have to now, right?," said Moquett. "If we lined back up with all those horses, I don't know that we could be beat 'em. But you know what? We did yesterday, and I thank God for that."

The Arkansas native said he not had time to think about what might be next for Seek Gold. He'd been too busy saying "thank you" to an endless stream of visitors. Between the instant that Seek Gold hit the finish line and the moment that he concluded his interviews with the media, Moquett said he had 102 new messages waiting on his cell phone.

"I love the fact that so many people have offered congratulations to us," Moquett said. "Colleagues and people that see us out here struggling and trying to make payroll and trying to pay the feed company. They appreciate what this win means to us."

Near the top of that list of well wishers were the names of Robert LaPenta and Nick Zito, the owner and trainer who sold the package of nine horses that included Seek Gold to the Bowman Couch Racing partners, Ted Bowman and Kristi Couch.

"Nick helped me all the way through it," said Moquett. "He kind of took me in like a little brother. He's been as cool to me as he could be."

Of the nine horses in that deal, two have already been given away by Moquett, Bowman, and Couch as ponies. Seek Gold, whose races had included a runner-up finish to Saint Liam in the 2004 Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, had been tossed into the package by Zito to sweeten the deal.

"This year when I was down on horses, Nick sent me horses," he said. "The reason I was hanging around him was to try to get knowledge and he, for some reason, has been real generous – like he is to everybody. He's been so classy."

Moquett shook a lot of hands, but did little real celebrating on the evening of the biggest moment in his career. After the races, he made a brief stop at the "Thoroughbred Retirement Party" benefit for the Race for Education and the Klein Family Learning Center at the Kentucky Derby Museum. But he was at home and in bed by 10 p.m. and back at the barn at the regular time on Sunday morning.

Life had been much different just 24 hours earlier.

"All day yesterday, I felt weird," said Moquett. "I thought we were going to run better than anyone thought we would. But, to be honest, I still can't believe it happened."