Every year, it seems like one or two horses take the spotlight in Kentucky Derby coverage. Usually it’s the horse’s speed or breeding that pulls the media’s attention. This year, though, a special horse has captured the public’s attention for a different reason: Patch is missing his left eye.
Patch, like most competitive thoroughbreds, has racing in his blood. His father is 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags. The 3-year-old horse has one of the most renowned trainers in the equestrian world: Todd Pletcher.
Yet a track accident early in the horse’s career caused an eye injury that required surgery in June 2016. Veterinarians found “massive inflammation in the globe of the [left] eye” and had to remove it.
After some time in Florida for rehabilitation, his trainer wasn’t sure of how Patch would perform back on the track.
Pletcher, Patch’s owners and racing fans were all a bit surprised, then, to find that his missing eye didn’t seem to slow him down one bit. The horse recently placed second in the Louisiana Derby, thereby qualifying him for one of the most famous races in the world.
— nmariephoto (@nmariephoto) May 1, 2017
“It’s a credit to him and his professionalism that he was able to adapt so seamlessly to it,” Pletcher said to the Courier Journal. “I was concerned that it might compromise his ability in some way or the way he carried himself. I guess you don’t know for sure, but it certainly doesn’t seem like it has.”
Also, in a video interview, Pletcher talked about Patch and how the horse’s disability hasn’t limited his success on the track—and that he did anticipate Patch would become a fan favorite in this year’s race.
Patch’s Personality Captivates Visitors
Patch’s story and personality certainly have captured the hearts and attention of the public.
— Michael Adolphson (@AdolphsonRacing) March 31, 2017
Patch even has an unofficial Twitter account in his honor. Fans can get daily updates of preparations leading up to the Derby, which will take place Saturday, May 6.