The treatment is unbelievable 'Gator' even got birthday cake

May 02, 1991|By Kim Johnson

Kim Johnson was born and raised on Maryland's Eastern Shore, graduated from Garrison Forest School in Reisterstown and just last week moved to Kentucky from Los Angeles.

Her and her husband, Murray, are running their first horse in the Kentucky Derby. He is Green Alligator, owned by Kim's grandfather, Anderson Fowler, of Far Hills, N.J.

Kim has agreed to share her experiences at Churchill Downs this week with Evening Sun readers.

Green Alligator was born on May 4, Derby Day, so ABC is bringing over a birthday cake for him. I guess it's going to be part of the Derby show.

We went to the trainers' dinner last night and everyone had to give a speech. It was really fun. Murray got up and said if our horse wins, he's going to sing that "Green alligator and long-necked geese" song in the winner's circle.

Really, Murray can blab on and on. That's what my grandfather says: "If he doesn't make it as a trainer, he'll do great in public speaking."

I don't know why, but I feel real relaxed this week. Part of it might be because I was on the road with Ruhlmann last year when I worked for Charlie Whittingham. I got used to the pressure. Also, it's just unbelievable how you're treated.

We have a hostess assigned just to look after us. She tells us our itinerary and gets us tickets to all of the events. The track even gave us a complimentary car to drive around in. It's the same sort of treatment I got at the Pimlico Special last year when I was there with Ruhlmann. We don't have to worry about a thing. Our hostess' name is Beverly. She's a local pediatrician and does this as a volunteer. She said she's been on a waiting list for quite a while and just wants to be part of Derby week.

The first night we were here we went out to dinner with Ian Jory. He trains Best Pal. We knew Ian before he became famous and he and his wife are really good friends.

He encouraged us to bring Gator to the Derby. We've always been a Best Pal fan. I saw him gallop on the track this morning and he looked awesome. I saw Wilder Than Ever and Quintana gallop by, and if it hadn't been for their yellow saddle cloths [worn by all Derby entries], I wouldn't have looked twice.

But Best Pal is so good it's scary. I hope it's us first and Best Pal second. I get afraid when I think Green Alligator might get badly beaten. That's what upsets me. We just don't want to be unfair to the horse. But he couldn't be going better. He almost ran off with me this morning. He has white feet, and sometimes they are warm. But all this week, they have been ice cold. But really, the only way I think we can beat Best Pal is if he can't get the 1 1/4 miles.

Green Alligator used to be a bad actor. But now he's gotten real classy. Every time he runs, he gets smarter and smarter. He has a new groom named Freddy, who came with us from California. His old groom, Epolito, didn't want to come and went back to Guatemala.

We are so lucky. We have good people helping us. The van came from California last night with all of our stable traps and I thought I'd spend all day unpacking. When I got here, the grooms had done it all.

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