The Boulder Colorado shooting impacts a girl from the world of horse racing
Some things happen and change the world as we know it forever. September 11th was one of those events. The COVID-19 pandemic surely looks like it could be another. Some things happen and change things forever for those who were involved or perhaps had loved ones involved or even worse suffered the ultimate type of loss, life.
We have all heard it before, I never thought it would happen to me. Does anyone? I cannot recall ever hearing anyone ever say you know, today I will be involved in a national tragedy. I know I did not wake up thinking about anything but my family, the upcoming Dubai World Cup, the Florida Derby, and all the exciting races on the horizon leading to the Kentucky Derby.
This is the story of the day a girl from the world of thoroughbred horse racing found herself in the world of mainstream media and a horrific tragedy.
I woke up Monday morning, March 22, like it was just another day. I read up on the Dubai Cup entrants and went to the gym. After the gym I decided to go to the grocery store down the street to pick up things for dinner. I visit King Soopers in Boulder just about every day. It is 2:30 PM I am just about to finish and I am in the produce section putting apples in a bag. I heard 2 large bangs and I thought a ladder fell. I started walking towards the noise to see if someone needed help. That was just instinct. All of a sudden I see people running saying gun, run, gun, run. It wasn’t screaming chaos like you would imagine it would be. It was more of a quiet whisper so the gunman didn’t know what area we were in. At the moment I did not realize it, but reflecting afterwards I thought have we become so accustomed to these events that even without training we know to run quietly and not make noise or scream loudly.
I dropped everything in my hands and ran back to the seafood counter. There were about 10 of us trying to figure out how to get out the back door. Meanwhile the shots are getting louder and more frequent. I knew whoever was shooting was getting closer to where we were hiding. An employee had a key and with his hands shaking he opened the door and let us out. We were on a loading dock and had to jump about 5 feat down into snow and ice then run up a snow filled hill. At least we were out, but in no way did I feel safe. People were crying and asking for help because they kept falling down the hill and we still were hearing gunshots. I got up the hill and wasn’t sure where to run.
I remembered there was a fire department nearby. I started running towards it and ran into a man who asked if I was ok. He said he was in the parking lot and saw the shooter shoot someone and he ran back into the store to warn us. I believe he saved many lives doing that. The fire department was closed so our group turned around and saw an office building. It was Edward Jones. We ran in and locked the doors and everyone got down.
By this point I felt physically sick from the experience and had to go to the bathroom and throw up. I came out of the bathroom and I heard more police activity and helicopters. I was able to reach a friend, the last person I had spoken to on my phone. I told them what was going on. My friend asked if the police knew where we were hiding. I asked those around me if anyone was able or had tried to reach the police to let them know where we were. Nobody had. I sent my friend a picture of the business card from the office building for him to let the police know where we were. He did and said I should stay put until they arrived or I knew it was safe to leave.
We had the doors locked and curtains closed. All we could hear were constant sirens and police activity. The gunman was in King Soopers for 50 minutes. It felt longer. A lot longer.
I personally know two people who were not as fortunate as I was and lost their lives. I was able to get a ride home and never felt so grateful. As soon as I got home I kissed the ground and hugged my kids extra hard. I walked up stairs to change and I walked into my Winx office room. Horse racing as long been a passion and a safe place I never want to lose. I sat and just cried. I felt like I could finally have a release. I quickly grew tired of watching the news. I saw what happened and felt it too. I went back to my safe place with my favorite race replays. My car is still in the parking lot. I am not sure when I will get it back. It doesn’t seem important. Baby steps is all I can do.
Photos: Nikki Samolovitch
Nikki Samolovitch is a freelance writer for Past the Wire and other racing publications and attends horse racing events all over the world.