It is said that "one man's feast is another man's famine," and so it was Wednesday when Gore Range Stable's Emmett Park suddenly became part of the field for Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star at Fair Grounds.
In this case, the man with the famine was trainer Doug O'Neill, who shipped the well-regarded Bond Holder across country last weekend as a West Coast invader for the Risen Star, only to have the horse come up body sore the day after arriving in New Orleans as a result of the rough flight.
That left a door open for Emmett Park to draw into the body of the Risen Star from the also-eligible list, so in this case the feast belonged to Emmett Park's trainer Bob Pincins, although he would surely not be comfortable with that analogy.
"I would never wish anything unfortunate to happen to another man's horse," Pincins said once the die had been recast in the field for the Risen Star. "However, these things happen, and I've been on the other end of that same scenario enough times since I first started training in 1976.
"I talked to the stakes coordinator (Scott Jones) before we even decided to come down here from Kentucky," Pincins continued. "He warned me we might not make into the body of the race, but he also said that during the time he has been stakes coordinator down here there have been a number of horses who had been late withdrawals after arriving for one reason or another.
"We took a chance coming down here and it worked out for us, but we did have a 'Plan B' if things didn't work out. The Battaglia Memorial is next weekend at Turfway, and we would have just turned around and gone back up to Kentucky to run in that race. That's got a $100,000 purse but of course it doesn't offer any points toward the Kentucky Derby the way this race here does, and if you think you might have a horse that might become good enough to run in the Derby you have to make sure you've picked up enough points along the way.
"I haven't had many good ones in my career, but I like the way this one has been coming along for me and we'll see how far we can go with him," Pincins remarked. "He's undefeated so far and I think he's improving."
Both of Emmett Park's wins have come over Turfway's Polytrack course, and he has yet to compete over dirt, but the gelded son of Bob and John has accomplished three works over the local oval since his arrival. He posted a half-mile move in :49 2/5 on February 4, clocked five furlongs in 1:01 on February 9 and was caught breezing four panels on Monday in :48 1/5.
"I think his works have been fantastic," Pincins asserted. "He's been doing good since we got here and I'm very pleased with him."
Pincins, 62, grew up in New England and began worked at now-defunct race tracks like Lincoln Downs and Narragansett before getting his trainer's license at Hawthorne and eventually gravitating to the Kentucky circuit. He has trained "on and off" for Gore Range Stable for several years.
"Gore Range Stable consists of two people named Richard Emmett and Rudy Vogt," Pincins said.
Where does the Park in Emmett Park come from?
"There is an Emmett Park in Virginia," Pincins said, "and it is named in honor of Richard Emmett's late father."