Horseman’s Park, Stateline – Abscess has done it again! The four year-old thoroughbred who many equate with Seabisquit, the come-from-behind Triple Crown winner who symbolized hope during the first Great Depression, pounded down the stretch at Horseman’s Park this weekend to extend his wins to fourteen in as many races.
Jockey Midge Catlin had the crowd of four thousand cheering wildly along the rail and in the grandstands as the green and white Horseman’s Park flag dropped at the finish line. “Abscess is on a mission,” Catlin said as he stood with the steed in the Winner’s Circle. “He’s here to remind us that we can rise above the tough times in Down County if only we forge ahead.”
Tough times is putting it mildly. Down County has been slammed by the deepening economic crisis and Flubug, with 77% unemployment, is unparalleled by any city in the nation. It also has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in methamphetamine labs, which have become the stills of the new millennium.
But you’d never know it to hear this crowd. Nor would anyone expect a horse like Abscess to perform so well. Born with three legs and crippled by arthritis, Abscess lost another leg in an amputation that followed a botched morphine injection. Left with only the two front legs, Abscess dragged himself to the track every day where he watched the horses run in a pitiful display.
That display, however, didn’t go unnoticed. Ambrose Bancroft, owner of Horseman’s Park, saw a winner in the hobbled thoroughbred and decided to take a chance. “The leg graft we tried had never been attempted in the veterinary world,” Bancroft explained. “But Abscess had so much spunk, we just had to try something.”
And that spunk carried the day.
Within weeks, Abscess was up on all fours. Two months later jockey, Midge Catlin, was working him every day. “He was wobbly to be sure, but every inch a winner.” A year later, Abscess won his first race. Since then, there’s been no stopping him.
Critics argue that Abscess’ competitors, many of which are plow mules chosen to run by Bancroft, are the key to the steed’s meteoric rise. But Bancroft dismisses such criticism as jealousy. “Everyone likes to take a shot at the guy on top. It’s human nature. But what counts is the guy in the grandstand. And that guy tells me Abscess is the greatest thoroughbred since Seabisquit.”