By Richard Rosenblatt
We’re all in on Fauci.
Belmont Park begins its COVID-19-delayed spring/summer meet on Wednesday (June 3), and wouldn’t you know it: a 2-year-old colt named in honor of Dr. Anthony Fauci (I think we all know the name) will make his racing debut then.
That will be in the third race, post time of 2:33 p.m., and you can catch the $64,000, 5-furlong maiden sprint (main track) on America’s Day at the Races (FS2, MSG+). If you hadn’t guessed already, the son of Malibu Moon is the 4-5 favorite in a field of six.
Fauci (the person) is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and has been the voice of reason in advising the United States on ways to stay safe as part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Fauci (the horse) was named for the 79-year-old New York doctor by the son (Phillip) of one of the principal owners, Frank Antonacci, also from New York.
“Phillip Antonacci purchased the horse at Keeneland,” trainer Wesley Ward explained recently in a NYRA press release. “Being of Italian-American descent, and for all the great work that Dr. Fauci’s done, they wanted to find a horse, especially in this time, that they could give a high-profile name to and this is the one.”
Fauci, out of the Intikhab mare Tashzara, was purchased for $175,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, and is owned Lindy Farms and Ice Wine Stable (Antonacci and Dave Reid are the principal owners).
Fauci has shown speed and the ability to handle both the turf, while training in Florida, and the dirt, in recent training at Keeneland (his . Sort of like his namesake, who has deftly handled just about every curveball thrown at him during the pandemic.
“He’s training unbelievable,” Ward said. “He’s a bigger colt. He doesn’t have a typical speed horse look to him. It looks like he’ll go a little further. He has a long stride and is just an athlete. He goes just as fast as you want him to.
Ward, who usually has a slew of 2-year-olds, clearly believes Fauci could be a standout.
“He worked phenomenal on the grass early on down at Palm Meadows,” said Ward. “He’s equally good, if not a shade better, on the grass. That said, all of his works on the dirt at Keeneland have been eye-openers.”
Tyler Gaffalione, who guided War of Will to victory in the 2019 Preakness (G1), will be aboard Fauci.
We reached out to the NIAID for a comment from Dr. Fauci on Fauci the horse. An official at the institute graciously replied that due to the high volume of media requests (obviously concerning more important issues), Dr. Fauci was not available for comment.
All we can say from here is let’s go Fauci!
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.