The Hoosier State honored a legend and welcomed the first start of a West Coast invader Wednesday in the second running of the $100,000 William Garrett Stakes at Horseshoe Indianapolis in Garrett’s hometown of Shelbyville.
Thanks Mr. Eidson (photo) and Geovanni Franco turned in a stellar performance to win the event named in honor of the basketball legend William Garrett.
Thanks Mr. Eidson came into the race off a win at Churchill Downs and trailed early on as the two greys, Charcoal and Joe Talamo and Rockcrest and Florent Geroux went out for the early lead in the five-furlong sprint over the turf. Franco was able to get Thanks Mr. Eidson in a comfortable running spot and await the opportunity to advance in the stretch.
Both Charcoal, last year’s winner of the William Garrett Stakes, and Rockcrest battled each other early in the stretch. Thanks Mr. Eidson emerged from between trailing horses and got a clear running path to mow down the competition in the final strides, winning by three quarters of a length over Charcoal. Oceanic and Edgar Morales also closed to finish third in the sprint, clocked in 55.43 seconds, a new stakes record.
“We broke flat footed, but I got him in position,” said Franco, who rode on the California circuit before relocating to the Midwest following success at Oaklawn. “He naturally goes to the lead, but he didn’t go today so we were waiting and took advantage of the hole in the turn. He got more and more comfortable on the turf as we went, and I think that definitely helped.”
Thanks Mr. Eidson paid $5.80 for his trip around the track. The More Than Ready five-year-old was the favorite of the field in his first Indiana start. He has spent his entire racing career with John Del Secco’s Del Secco DCS Racing, based out of northern California, who purchased him as a yearling from the Keeneland Sales for $210,000.
“I grew up around Pleasanton (Golden Gate Fields), so I’ve been around horses my entire life,” said the young Del Secco, whose family owns and operates a construction company in the San Francisco area. “Our trainer on the West Coast (Jeff Bonde) and I picked out this horse together at the sale. We bought three or four that day. He has spent his entire career in California, but we thought he needed a little change of scenery, so we sent him to Brian (Lynch) in Kentucky.”
Del Secco is roommates with Brian’s son, Nic, at the University of Kentucky. The two are seniors at UK and share a passion for racing and shared a car ride up to Horseshoe Indianapolis for the Garrett Stakes.
“I flew in on the red eye overnight,” said Del Secco. “Brian (Lynch) told me he was going to run big, so I wasn’t going to miss this.”
Thanks Mr. Eidson has run in stakes before, but the Garrett Stakes becomes his first career stakes victory. The gelding, bred by Dell Ridge Farm, has four lifetime wins and boosted his career earnings to more than $343,000 with the Indiana win. He is now two for three in 2022 for his connections.
The Garrett family made the trophy presentation for the William Garrett Stakes (photo). Garrett’s nephew, James Jr., and Garrett’s great nephew, James III, were both in the winner’s circle to present the trophy to the connections of Thanks Mr. Eidson.
“I am ecstatic that Bill Garrett is remembered in this community with this race,” said Garrett Jr. “I thought it was a one-time thing when we came out last year, but to be invited back to represent the family again is a great honor. I hope it continues and I’m glad to see people look forward to this race.”
Garrett led the Shelbyville Golden Bears to a state championship victory in 1947. Garrett then went on to play for Indiana University as the first African American player in the Big 10. Although he was drafted by the Boston Celtics, he also was drafted into the U.S. Army. Following his military service, he played for the Harlem Globetrotters and was later a coach, educator, and athletic director in the Indianapolis area.
Garrett was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1974.