Johnsons like Gator's post draw

May 03, 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 been telling Evening Sun readers this week about some of her Derby experiences.

It's hard to believe that in one more day it's all going to be over.

We are delighted with our post position. Green Alligator drew No. 8., the same as last year's winner, Unbridled.

He had his last serious bit of work yesterday. At about 10 'til 6, when it was still dark, I worked him about a half mile. We like to go out then to avoid the crowds. The horse is cool and back in his stall before any reporters get to the track.

He went in 49 seconds. Murray clocked him the last quarter in zTC 22, which means he finished real strong. He was so good that Elizabeth, my 2-year-old, could have ridden him.

We will just jog him two miles each day up to the race. Murray and I each have our separate roles. He is the trainer. I'm just the exercise rider and follow his orders. It works out a lot better that way when a husband and wife work together. A horse can't have two trainers.

Like everybody else, Murray expects Sea Cadet and Fly So Free to run on the front end. He thinks Best Pal, trained by our friend, Ian Jory, will be all right, even breaking from the 15 post. Murray says let them get on with it. Gator runs late, anyway. We know our horse couldn't be doing any better. If he gets beat, it will be just that he's not good enough.

I feel so confident with Corey Nakatani riding. Corey is one of the leading stakes riders in California. He's young and cocky, about 21 or 22. He reminds me a lot of a young Gary Stevens. He and his wife just had a baby a few weeks ago. Murray 's instructions to him in the paddock will be: "The horse is healthy. Just ride him like you did when you won the California Derby."

Derby Day is going to be a long one.

The night before we've been invited to dinner at Warner Jones' house. He's the chairman of the board at Churchill Downs, and, of course, we're going.

I think I'm just going to bring my dress that I'm wearing to the Derby with me to the track in the morning. I think once we get into the barn area, we'll be trapped. There will be just too much traffic to get back to the hotel and change. I'll have to leave the two girls all day with the babysitter. That bothers me. But they are just too young (2 and 4 months) to bring to the race.

Gator will jog in the morning. Then he'll have his breakfast about 8 a.m. When he finishes, we'll put his muzzle on. That keeps him from eating hay or straw. He's gotten used to it. He'll just hang his head and go to sleep.

I'm going to walk over to the paddock with the horse, and I know Mom and Dad and my sister Jen will want to walk over with him, too.

I can't imagine any better feeling than taking your horse to the paddock for the Kentucky Derby. It's something I thought would never happen to us. A-Pa [my grandfather] made it all possible by sending us Gator. Murray and I really owe him a lot.

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