You go on because that is what life dictates.
You press forward past the grief, putting things that still need emotional processing in a corner of one's mind until a better moment arises. You try and regain a sense a normalcy in the face of events none should ever have to endure.
Trainer Adam Kitchingman is among many trying to do the above exercise this week. It has been seven days since the Lilac Fire ripped through San Luis Rey Downs Training Center, causing the death of 46 horses on the grounds and immeasurable mental and physical heartache to those who played witness and savior. But the Thoroughbred industry is nothing if not resolute in marching forward, and when the $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile Stakes goes to post Dec. 17, one of Kitchingman's charges will try and provide a dose of comfort as well as an injection of hope.
Triple B Farms' graded stakes winner Greyvitos, one of the fortunate who survived the fire unscathed, will gently push forward the process of moving on this weekend when he breaks from post 12 in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park— a race that offers qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) for the first time.
Greyvitos and the rest of his stablemates in Kitchingman's barn were all able to escape the blaze at the training center and just three days after the tragic incident, the son of Malibu Moon was back on the work tab at Santa Anita Park to complete his preparations for Sunday's eight-furlong test. That doesn't mean scars aren't evident.
Lost tack can be replaced. Structures can be rebuilt. New clothing and housing can be acquired.
Trying to unsee a worst nightmare is a different story.
"It's been a crazy week. A lot of highs and lows, more lows than highs," Kitchingman said. "We're getting through it and everyone has been really supportive. It's great to see the racing community come together to help everyone out ... it's just been very heartwarming to see everyone care.
"We have to move on and we have to go forward, but it doesn't take away from what happened. There is a lot to learn from what we have gone through. It was terrifying. It was a nightmare what was going on. It was like a horror movie."
Greyvitos already has a bit of history of providing his barn with a notable lift.
In his third start, the gray colt became the second graded stakes winner of Kitchingman's career when he broke his maiden in the Nov. 11 Bob Hope Stakes (G3), winning by 1 1/2-lengths in front-running fashion at Del Mar. Being out of the multiple graded stakes-winning turf mare Snow Top Mountain, Greyvitos began his career on the grass at Santa Anita this July, but he weakened to finish eighth in that outing.
After getting some time off due to a minor tibia issue, Greyvitos worked well enough on the main track that Kitchingman put him on dirt next time out for a 5 1/2 furlong maiden test at Santa Anita Oct. 21. His greenness was obvious, but so too was his upside. He ran on to get third.
"If you look at the second start, he probably should have won that race," Kitchingman said. "He had a terrible trip, stuck down on the rail, and didn't like the dirt in his face. Then when he did get out, he exploded and two more jumps and he probably would have won the race. But he was all over the place in that race.
"Just the last six months he has really blossomed and filled out and grown a bunch. The way he ran last time (in the Bob Hope), he galloped out like he wanted more distance. Especially after going so fast early (:22.66 and :45.20), he didn't spit the bit and kept on going forward."
Among those Greyvitos will face Sunday is Redatory, the undefeated winner of the $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park Nov. 3. The Texas-bred Oratory gelding broke his maiden Oct. 7 by two lengths in a six-furlong race and captured the seven-furlong Clever Trevor by 2 1/4 lengths in gate-to-wire style.
Larry Jones-trained Believe in Royalty brings a pair of wins —as well as a purple pedigree—to the table for the Springboard Mile. The son of Tapit is out of 2012 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Believe You Can and heads into Sunday's race off a 3 3/4-length allowance victory going one mile Nov. 19 at Laurel Park, where he headed every point of call.
Remington Park, Sunday, December 17, 2017, Race 11
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Combatant (KY) Ricardo Santana, Jr. 121 Steven M. Asmussen 4/1 2 2Major Brown (KY) Deshawn L. Parker 121 Michael R. Whitelaw 20/1 3 3Brangelina (KY) Danny Sorenson 121 Danny Pish 30/1 4 4Bode's Maker (KY) Floyd Wethey, Jr. 121 Allen Milligan 20/1 5 5Flip the Coin Jan (KY) Mario Gutierrez 121 Doug F. O'Neill 8/1 6 6Night Strike (OK) Iram Vargas Diego 121 W. Bret Calhoun 30/1 7 7Soul P Say (KY) Jareth Loveberry 121 Allen Milligan 20/1 8 8Flat Lucky (KY) Ramon A. Vazquez 121 Steven M. Asmussen 20/1 9 9Redatory (TX) David Cabrera 121 Allen C. Dupuy 12/1 10 10Believe in Royalty (KY) Robby Albarado 121 J. Larry Jones 5/1 11 11Kingsville (TX) Luis S. Quinonez 121 Danny Pish 30/1 12 12Greyvitos (VA) Victor Espinoza 121 Adam Kitchingman 6/5
Remington Park, Sunday, December 17, 2017, Race 11