By Alan Hinton/Hattiesburg American
HATTIESBURG — Dawn and Ike Thrash of Hattiesburg went to a horse sale in Ocala, Fla., in March, 2009, and purchased three 2-year-olds.
Their trainer, John Sadler, also was at the sale, and bought a thoroughbred for someone in California.
When Sadler’s transaction didn’t go through, he began looking for a buyer.
“He called us and asked if we wanted him,” Ike Thrash said.
“We watched video of him, to see if we liked the way he moved,” Dawn Thrash said. “We were looking for fillies. But we talked about him, and he looked good to me.”
The Thrashes bought the horse for $150,000, named him Line of David (after David Oliver, the Thrash’ son-in-law David Oliver, who married their daughter Kelly), and on May 1 will watch him run in the prestigious Kentucky Derby.
One of the first three horses they bought last year was Dave in Dixie.
“The trainer said we were going to the Derby with this horse,” Dawn said.
Didn’t turn out that way.
Line of David qualified for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., by winning the Arkansas Derby on April 11.
“That man in California (who backed away from owning the horse) is probably very disappointed,” Dawn said.
Things were not all roses early in Line of David’s racing career.
“He ran ninth in his first race,” Ike said. “He ran an ugly third in his second start and an even uglier seventh in his third start.
“So we didn’t pay much attention to him.”
That’s when two decisions were made that changed Line of David’s fortunes. Sadler put blinkers on him, so he would focus on the track in front of him instead of all the action on his sides. And he told the jockey to get to the front of the pack as soon as possible and try to stay there.
“That’s how his sire (Lion Heart) ran,” Ike said.
As it turned out, Line of David focused on business at hand, and he had enough power and energy to stay in front. And he’s now won his last three races, two at Santa Anita and the Arkansas Derby, when the odds were 17-1 against him.
With his last win, Line of David got on everybody’s radar.
“We could sell him for a lot right now,” Dawn said.
“Three or four people have offered to buy a half-interest of him in the past week or so,” Ike said.
Well, that’s probably not going to happen before May 1.
Seventeen members of the Thrash family — Line of David’s owners, their children and spouses, and the grandchildren — will be in an owner’s box at Churchill Downs that day, rooting for their horse in what has been called “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”
“There’s nothing more beautiful than being on the rail, watching horses compete, trying so hard,” Dawn said. “It’s beautiful. We both love it.”
Being an owner of a Derby contender makes it that much more special.
“It’s the anticipation of what might be,” Dawn said. “In your brain, you’re thinking you’re not going to win that race.
“But in the back of your brain, you’re saying that he’s got a heart that is so big he could hold them off.”