Krantz Stable Updates
A Difference In Perspective
- Published: December 3, 2004
- Written by Bryan Krantz
The metal skiff had been green some years ago but the paint had worn away from constant use. When the skiff was new it worked the treacherous waters of the Atchafalaya River with its swift currents and whirlpools. A sun darkened thin man used the boat to commute between his worn pick-up truck and a larger boat containing the tarred hoop nets he used to fish on Whiskey Bay. Now, some years later the skiff was used as a base of operations for emptying crawfish nets and traps he set along the banks of the large pond created on the lowest portion of his pasture land at the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin. The water of the pond varied from knee deep to chest deep as he walked slowly towing the boat by a yellow nylon rope attached to the bow. Several five-gallon buckets in the boat contained cut up fish or old chicken parts for bait. Each wire mesh crawfish trap was emptied into a red plastic sack and the bait replaced. At even intervals along the bank steel d-shaped spring loaded leg traps were baited for crawfish predators. Each day in addition to the crawfish he would gather coons, mink, nutria and an occasional bobcat from the traps as he made his rounds. On some days when the weather wasn't to harsh a small boy accompanied him as a passenger in the skiff with the buckets and sacks and assorted collection of animals. He was rugged and ruff to match the physical work he had done throughout his life. He spoke English but was much more at home in the French dialect of the Acadians that most of his generation spoke. His name, Onizeme, is an oddity in today's world but fit well with his time. He was quiet, but a beacon of security for all those who knew him.
After the rounds were made at the pond and cows checked in the pasture he would return home, placing the crawfish in an old refrigerator behind the house in a shed shaded by an old fig tree. Then the work of skinning the pelts would begin. With surgeon's skill the pocketknife would make the incisions around the base of a leg and trace up the long bones. After the fur came free, loops were made on the edges of the skin to be fitted with bamboo strips fastened into a frame for drying. The fur man came every couple of weeks to collect the pelts gathered and cured.
There was a large garden tended to by his wife Lucille. She also cared for the chickens, guineas, pigs and milk cows. In his later life his daughter brought horses to the place. Thoroughbreds. A new barn was built and large and small paddocks fenced. The horses were his joy.
Nearly forty years later as my car moved onto the eastbound I-10 onramp at Williams and began to accelerate to match traffic in the fast lane from the left side it occurred to me it would be a day from a different perspective. Just like the vision had by the engineer who designed the onramp to enter the I-10 from the wrong side. This was a different day. In any of the past fourteen years all attention would be focused on a thousand details of the business of racing. This Saturday, my thoughts were focused only on a gray filly on the verge of her sixth straight winning race. On paper it all looked too easy. The line maker had placed her 4/5 and all comments in the Daily Racing Form assured a win.
Horses are flesh and bone and tend not to adhere to conventional wisdom. In this case a missed work here and a deep track there and you have a set of circumstances to make a walk in the park become a near tragedy. The really good ones can overcome adversity and have a will to win unmatched in any other experience of life. The record will show Destiny Calls won her sixth consecutive race on Saturday. She did it on class and heart and through shear determination. This was a win from another perspective, not the dominant performance of her last several races. Her effort was so hard in the win she may have turned the prep race for Louisiana Champions Day into a serious consideration of should she not be entered to run on Champions Day at all. By overextending herself in the prep she may need longer to recover for a top effort in her next race or "bounce" off of the hard exertion and throw a clunker race next time if she is rushed back to competition to soon. Only time will tell, and we have less than two weeks to know the answer.
The day wound down and it was time to make our way from the clubhouse level to the car. On reaching the ground floor, Jack Letellier, whose family owned the Fair Grounds some years ago, stopped to say hello. We chatted for a minute and as he began to walk away and coyly said, "You know this is the first time I've been a paying customer at the Fair Grounds." I thought for a moment and said, "Jack, you know what ... me too." Yes, it was a day from a different perspective.
Driving home thoughts of Onizeme Bess Krantz came to mind and how he might have felt about Destiny Calls wining six races in a row. I'm sure it would be the same feeling he had watching those horses in the pasture in Krotz Springs.