The Sport of Kings, as well as any major sport, needs a Cinderella or a Hero to make it all that much more special. The story lines full of emotion, hard work, dedication and struggle; then there’s that moment of triumph when the underdog makes his or her mark on a sport that they dreamed of as a child and it captivates the masses and hits us right in the heart.
This is about all of us really, for those that have dreams or aspirations. Uriah St. Lewis is no different than you or I, in fact, he is us. On September 29th we witnessed Discreet Lover blow up the tote board at 45-1 in the Grade 1 Jockey Gold Cup at Belmont Park, trained and owned by St Lewis.
Born in Trinadad-Tobago, Uriah used to watch the races with his sister as a young kid. He explained to me that he loved the movement of the horses and how they ran and that had him hooked as a horse racing fan for life. St. Lewis moved to NY when he was 15 years old in 1973. Living close to Aqueduct, every chance he got when he wasn’t at school, he would be at the track watching the races. When he was old enough to bet on the races, it made it even more exciting.
Uriah studied computers at a trade school and eventually began working for AmTote, which specializes in computer systems for pari-mutuel wagering in horse racing. St. Lewis, during his off time would be at the track betting on races. One day, his wife who is from Brooklyn, told him ,” with all the love, admiration and money you put into betting on the horses maybe it would be financially better for you to own a race horse than to bet on them”. He took her advice and did just that.
St. Lewis and his wife sold off some of the real estate that they had and left NY for Oklahoma and it was there that he began his career in horse racing under the tutelage of Robert Hayes. St. Lewis took out his training license in 1988 and began training horses at Remington, Fairmount, Will Rogers, Ellis, Atlantic City and Penn National, eventually making his way to Philadelphia Park before it became Parx.
Uriah is fully involved in all of the aspects of his operation at Trin-Brook Stables, aptly named because he is from Trinidad and his wife is from Brooklyn. While I was interviewing Uriah, he didn’t stop for a second as he was feeding his horses while he was talking to me, this man doesn’t quit. He picks up his own hay, food and shavings for his string of 28 that he owns. How can you not root for this guy?
St. Lewis told me “ I work every day, from 4am to 7pm, 7 days a week, there is no such thing as a holiday or a day off.” “My vacation is going to Saratoga in the summer to run, where I wake up a little later at about 5am.” St. Lewis doesn’t have a string in NY as he ships out from Parx when he feels he has the right set up to run good at other tracks.
I asked St. Lewis how did it feel to win your first Grade 1, his response was “I’m still on cloud 9, now I know how Bob Baffert and Chad Brown feel.” “I’m still pinching myself, as to say is this real.” In speaking with him, he tells me about the heart that Discreet Lover has, that he is a strong horse that never quits and is well put together and highly intelligent. He reported to me that he has been eating all of his food and displaying all of the things he needs to see. “ He came back tired, and was put on the vet’s list, but I’m not worried, he had to run really hard.” “I know in my heart that he can win the Breeders’ Cup.”
I asked Uriah if the odds had scared him prior to loading in the gate and he told me no because not a lot of people bet on his horses so he wasn’t surprised by the 45-1 odds. Discreet Lover has chased around some very good horses with exceptional resumes like , Gun Runner, Mind your Biscuits, Nyquist, Limousine Liberal, Cupid and Exaggerator to name a few. Discreet Lover wore down the likes of Thunder Snow and Mendelsshon in 1:59.99 at a mile and a quarter by a neck carrying the highest weight he has ever carried at 126 lbs.
Discreet Lover was purchased at the Mid-Atlantic Fasig Tipton Sale for 2 yo in training in 2015 for a mere 10k. Now that his earnings have eclipsed the million dollar mark, it’s safe to say that this was a very good investment. “I’ve been the trainer/owner getting beat and finishing 4th in a stakes race and I was happy.” “My operation doesn’t have high expenses like the others.” “I can be happy picking up 50k in a stakes race getting 4th when others wouldn’t be.” Well Mr. St. Lewis you now have a Grade 1 on your record with a shot at a 6 million dollar purse in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Uriah told me that he is “looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup” and left me with this, “there’s 100 ways to lose and only one way to win.” In my opinion if that one way was heart, he just won by 10 lengths geared down in the stretch.
Until then we will have to wait it out and see on the first Saturday in November as Discreet Lover takes his shot at racing immortality for a blue collar, hard-working trainer and owner that deserves to be there. This is a feel good story that we, as racing fans, owners, trainers and jockeys can never get enough of. The Breeders’ Cup this year with so many equine stars retiring was void of a great story line. That is until Uriah St. Lewis and Discreet Lover decided to crash the party.