Name: Eighteencharacters (US) Barn Name: "Sneezy" Breed: Thoroughbred Gender: Colt/Stallion Age: 5 Color: Chestnut Markings: Star-stripe Height: 15.1 hands Event/Sport: Racing Distance: Miler/Classic Runner Surface: Synthetic/Dirt Leg: Pack Pedigree: Thatswhatshesaid x I Dunno What (Include) Owner: Mana Farms Breeder: Heaven Trees Farm Racing History: 13-10-1-0 (Graded: 10, G1s: 6) Major Wins: Santa Anita Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Pimlico Special, Suburban, Met Mile, & San Gabriel Handicap Purse: Don't make me do the math! Best Progeny: coming soon! Offspring: coming soon!
The Kentucky Derby was a banner day for our sire Thatswhatshesaid. He had two boys running. One, the immensely popular (among the non-racing crowd) Boomchickawahwah who had taken the Champagne Stakes as a 2 year old, and the Gotham and Wood Memorial as a three year old. Boomchickawahwah also had Eddie Ne, the cocky young upstart from Hong Kong with the contagious grin and merry cackle that made him hated in the jocks room but loved by the fans.
The other son was another matter. He was a smaller and somewhat uglier version of Thatswhatsheaid from an unknown unraced mare named (appropriately) I dunno what. Not even we had heard much about him until he abruptly showed up on the racing scene as a three year old, though our studs groom insisted he remembered the colts mom coming through, she was also tiny and ugly. Despite smaller eyes, and smaller ears, and a strange walk and gallop that made him look like he was going to pass out every furlong, the little colt had been bought as a two year old by Gillian Garner and Joan Berol, (yes, the famous couple with the popular series on Comedy Central). No one had expected the celebrities to go into horse-racing, but after attending the Kentucky Derby with the CEO of Satellite Network the previous year they decided they wanted to go there the following year with a horse. And anyone who knows anything about horse racing knew that that was about as far-fetched an outcome as one might expect in their first year. They had only one horse. He was small. Ugly. And cheap. And they bought him specifically because he was small, ugly, and cheap. The fact that his sires name was Thatswhatshesaid merely sealed the deal. Gillian and Joan got plenty of coverage from the news networks the day of the race, they were celebrities, they had a horse, he was their first and only, and he was running in the Derby.
So how did the little horse make it into the Derby field? They way the rest of them did. He won a race. Two. In fact, he won the Robert B. Lewis and then the Santa Anita Derby by wearing down the very game and very favourite First Page. (We had watched that race with interest, and even Thatswhatshesaids groom turned to the stallion and cheered, Lookie boy, theres a mini you!)
While the two year old champ, First Page remained first horse at the Derby despite his nose loss in the Santa Anita, Boomchickawahwah and Eighteencharacters enjoyed a different sort of popularity boosted by a growing sense of rivalry. Boomchickawahwah was owned by us, he had a popular name and a popular rider. He had also been raced mostly out east. Eighteencharacters had celebrities for owners, but a name that made little sense to anyone but the horseplayers. He had also been raced exclusively in California on the synthetics. Nevertheless it seems a great number of railbirds loved the little colt.
Our trainer Cornelius glanced suspiciously at the owners of Eighteencharacters as we led Boomchickawahwah for the walk over before the race; they giddily waved back at him and at us, obviously just thrilled to be there.
There is a rainbow charm braided into that horses mane, Cornelius grumbled as he led Boomchickwahwah towards the track.
Maggie, Tuxs exercise rider, smiled at our chronically grumpy trainer, I heard its their good luck charm and it means a lot to them.
Well, do me a favor and remind them its a racehorse, not a Chihuahua or a campaign sign, he muttered. It was the last anyone could hear from the old goat before the crowd roared. Maggie took advantage of the deafening thunder of people to mutter her own opinion to herself. Well, I like it.
Both boys were calm and well mannered before the crowd of 158,000 people. Tux glanced at his competition as usual, bowed himself and pranced out through the tunnel. Eighteencharacters didnt glance at anyone; he stood there half asleep, snorting every now and then as if in a dream. His jockey, a younger cockier version of Eddie Ne (if thats even possible) named Joey Roma, grinned from ear to ear. It was his first Derby.
God help us, Cornelius muttered while watching the kid walk his half asleep mount through the tunnel after our horse.
What? Maggie asked.
The kid is worse than Eddie. Gives me a coronary just looking at him. What an ass.
Both sons of Thatswhatshesaid loaded and left the gate like true professionals. There was no hitch, no jump, no stumbling, just a smooth clean jolt. Eddie let Boomchickawahwah do as he wanted, he rocketed to the lead. Eighteencharacters fell back to about sixteenth and by the time they rounded the first turn looked as he always did, like he was going to have a heart attack right then and there. As the Tux was putting on a show on the back stretch playing catch-me-if-you-can with the other nineteen horses, Eighteencharacters began to fall back to nineteenth. The wall of sound hit the stampede of horses as they swung around the final turn. The crowd waited for Boomchickawahwah to let loose his signature second wind, one eye on him and the other on the favorite, First Page. The two dueled for several strides and then Boomchickawahwah began to fade. As he faded, the wall of sound woke his sleep-racing half brother up. Eighteencharacters, small but fearless and very much alert now, flicked his ears back and forth, swinging this way and that, weaving between the crowds. They were nearing the wire and First Page was desperately trying to hold off the Florida Derby winner, Holy Tide who was steaming down the stretch. No one really noticed the little colt, Eighteencharacters, gallop alongside him on the inside and squeeze through a rapidly vanishing hole between the two horses encouraged by his equally, if not stupidly, fearless jock, until it happened right before the wire. The three of them passed under the wire together to the excitement of the crowd as the announcer shouted Its a PHOTO! The crowd murmured in unison, clutching their tickets to their chests. People at home suddenly were glued to their televisions wondering if the little horse had done it again, had he stolen the win from the favourite? Did First Page get his revenge? Was Holy Tide the winner? While the trainers of First Page and Holy Tide shouted their rage at their own jocks to the sky, a celebrity couple clung to each other and bounced up and down as if the photo didnt matter. Cornelius let out a long sigh as Boomchickawahwah came home fourteenth out of twenty, roaring.
Is he hurt? Maggie asked as Eddie Ne brought the weary colt back.
I dont know, boss, he just started making noise when I ask him to go. I seen First Page coming up from behind, man, and I said, Go and he tried, man, he tried, but then he just started going noisy so I let him fall back, Eddie shouted to us.
While Boomchickawahwah was being brought back and scoped, the rest of the Derby crowd waited for word on the photo finish. A sudden whoop told us as we headed back to the barn that the stewards had declared it. First Page. Eighteen Characters. Holy Tide. By a nostril each.
We were so concerned for Boomchickawahwah and our other racer at the time Erik Le Fantome who was gearing up for the Barbaro Stakes, that we didnt think much of a message from one of the barn managers that the owners of Eighteencharacters were looking for us. It was soon forgotten as the Triple Crown continued without Boomchickawahwah and no other effort was made to contact us. The Preakness saw all three horses from the Derby top three running again. In the paddock, Eighteencharacters made a loud sneeze that even caught the attention of the NBC broadcasters standing nearby. Uh oh said one. They were mistaken. First Page and Holy Tide, likely exhausted from their duel down the stretch at Churchill, never made serious contention, but Eighteencharacters happily snatched the Preakness proving he never was a fluke.
By now, as Eighteencharacters was gaining credibility, Erik Le Fantome was as well having won the Barbaro Stakes on the Preakness undercard. As the winning connections of the Preakness made their way to congratulate us as we made our way to congratulate them, Joan grabbed our Maggie by the elbow and whispered something Maggie swore was akin to HELP!
Help? Cornelius asked later.
Help, she reiterated.
As it turned out, the owners of Eighteencharacters, Gillian and Joan, with a Kentucky derby runner up and Preakness winner in their barn had their insurance payment explode. Their voicemail, as well, had been crashed with several offers to buy-out the colt.
We want to keep him, they said to us, But we didnt realize owning a champion was going to be a giant kick in the financial groin like this. I mean, we knew, they continued in unison like a Greek chorus, but we didnt know know, you know?
And you guys, well, you know, they pressed.
Cornelius raised his eyebrows.
You buy people out all the time. You bought out his dad, remarked Gillian.
And there was Mr. Tseng, Joan quipped.
And Gojira, Gillian added.
And they keep winning, even with that cantankerous goat youve got training they concluded together, and obviously, now that Eighteen has won the Preakness we thought
Youre asking us to buy you out? Cornelius asked. He hadnt missed the cantankerous goat comment, but hed ignore it for the sake of getting the Preakness winner in his barn.
Absolutely, they cheered. They continued to list various stipulations as we sat in disbelief that they were actually pleading with us to take their now ludicrously expensive colt off their hands, well about 80% off of their hands. Things remained quiet until the Belmont when after another loud sneeze during the leg up a commentator mentioned that perhaps this was Eighteencharacters good luck ritual. It was and the colt, who might have been a Triple Crown winner if not for the nose hairs of First Page in the Derby, was walked into our barn after announcing to the racing world he was ours by majority.
I aint taking the kid too, Cornelius muttered in reference to the cocky jock that had ridden the colt in all of his starts, but come the Travers Stakes, our cantankerous old goat was giving a leg up to Joey Roma with Gillian and Joan beaming at them both. Though Cornelius snorted at the idea that a sneeze was a good luck ritual for the horse (he also sneezed at the Santa Anita Derby, the minority owners now insisted), we could all tell he was waiting for it. As Joey Roma gathered the reins in his hands and was led around the paddock at Saratoga, Eighteencharacters suddenly shook his head with a resounding sneeze. In an instant, a group of railbirds cheered and raced to the betting windows to put win tickets on the little son of Thatswhatshesaid. And he didnt disappoint.
He did it again the in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but in November as he was being led towards the Breeders Cup Classic, the horse never sneezed.
Goddammit, Cornelius muttered.
Want some pepper or a strong mint? Maggie offered, That could make him sneeze. Do you think anyone would notice?
I aint forcing the horse to sneeze, Cornelius growled under his breath as the horse was led away to the track.
What do we do? Gillian and Joan asked in unison.
What can we do? Go to the office and scratch because the horse didnt sneeze?
Well, what if hes sick?
You want me to tell them he may be sick because he isnt sneezing?! Cornelius scowled at the group of railbirds shaking their heads and erasing Eighteencharacters from their boxes before the horse had even run.
Eighteencharacters didnt scratch and he didnt win. He made a solid fourth place effort and the entire group of us sat down to discuss the horses future.
We know you guys own the majority of him now, the two girls ventured during the meeting, but if you dont mind, wed really like him to keep racing.
And if he doesnt sneeze, Cornelius asked. Gillian and Joan shrugged.
He is the best horse we have in contention right now, and hes healthy. Lets do it, weve never not run a healthy happy horse before, Maggie offered. After another month we made the announcement, Eighteencharacters would continue to run. It was a wise decision. Eighteencharacters, the little ugly son of Thatswhatshesaid with the rainbow charm began to sneeze again and took the renewed Pimlico Special, and then the New York Handicap Triple: The Suburban, The Metropolitan, and the Brooklyn, the first to do it since Fit for Fight in 1984. Gillian and Joan were none too pleased with our decision to keep him in New York and they twisted our arms into racing him a final time in California in the San Gabriel Handicap after a well deserved break from the intense New York series. He sneezed, he won, and he was summarily retired.
Grade Ones: Santa Anita Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Metropolitan Handicap
Grade Twos: Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Suburban Handicap, Brooklyn Handicap, San Gabriel Handicap
Eclipse Awards: Champion Three Year Old Male, Horse of the Year (3 year old year)
"Eighteencharacters" is available for stud, please note me with your request.
Oh, he's an HARPG, a playable character, not a real horse. Though there is a real horse named Eighteencharacters somewhere I'm sure.
I will have a race horse sometime soon though, getting close. In the middle of networking actually. Have had a couple of invitations to join a syndicate/partnership and I may go that route in a year or two.
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More