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Owner/trainer Thomas McCarthy and his colt General Quarters Photo by: Tom Cooley Photography

Kentucky Derby's Irish dream come true

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Owner/trainer Thomas McCarthy and his colt General Quarters Photo by: Tom Cooley Photography

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Imagine a 75-year-old retired schoolteacher purchasing a major league baseball club for $20,000 and bringing them to the World Series.


Or imagine a 75-year-old retired schoolteacher buying the New York Giants for the same amount of money and watching from the owner’s box as they trot on to the field for the Superbowl.

Dream on you might say. Now imagine Tom McCarthy achieving all that – and possibly more.

The former teacher did that last year when he purchased General Quarters, a starter in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, for $20,000 dollars.

The horse was running in a minor claiming race in Florida, but Tom, who doesn’t have much money put aside, liked something about the breeding and the background and bought him with a big chunk of his life savings.

So on Saturday, when General Quarters, who recently won the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland , trots out on the track and millions worldwide watch the greatest two minutes in sport, Tom will be there.

He will belong right alongside the Maktoum brothers from Dubai who have spent $200 million so far trying to get a Kentucky Derby winner to no avail.

 He will belong beside the Irish owners of Dunkirk, who paid $ 3.75 million for that colt. He will belong as trainer alongside Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert and Wayne Lukas, the Derek Jeters of the sport.

He will belong.

And his horse has a real chance.

That is the beauty and glory of horse racing, where for one day the little guy can square up to the giants. No other sport can come close. The Toledo Mud Hens can defeat The Yankees, the hardscrabble kid can scale the heights.

McCarthy, whose grandfather came from Ireland as a jockey is hoping his Irish luck holds out on Saturday. Don’t bet against it. There is fairy dust in the air.

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