Suffolk Downs publicist buys first racehorse

Jess and Trippi at his new home

To hear Jessica Paquette describe the byplay she shared with What a Trippi at Suffolk Downs a couple years ago, one might be reminded, just a little, of the famous meeting decades earlier between Seabiscuit and trainer Tom Smith.

For it was at Suffolk Downs that Seabiscuit was said to have nodded at Smith, making such an impression that Smith promised himself the two would meet again.

And it was at the same track two years ago that Paquette had her own fateful moment with a short, grumpy racehorse she would vow to own.

The 15.2 hand bay was entering the saddling area when Paquette called over to him.

“I said, ‘Hi Trippi! Hi Cranky!’ and his ears perked up and he tried to drag his groom over to me,” Paquette says. That was quite a show of affection for a horse so prone to biting people that handlers kept an orange cone outside his stall door to warn people away.

Race name: What a Trippi
Sire: Trippi
Dam: Avert Your Eyes
Foal date: March 18, 2004

At this point, Paquette had one word flash through her mind: mine.

“I made up my mind that one way or another, someday he would be mine,” she adds. “That (interaction) just validated it. And to me, it made me think he had made up his cranky little mind too. He wasn’t the right horse for everyone but he has always been perfect for me.”

As the Suffolk Downs racing analyst and publicist for the past six years, Paquette has met a lot of horses, but it wasn’t until Trippi passed through that one became her personal mission.

She followed the horse’s progress as he crisscrossed hundreds of miles to race at Finger Lakes and Aqueduct, and along the way, she made contact with the horse’s connections to tell them one thing:

“They would get an email from me saying that if anything goes wrong, I want him,” she says. “I always worried about him. But I always knew that someday I’d get him.”

Jessica and Trippi renew friendship

Then, on Nov. 13, she received a text message from his owner and trainer Mike LeCesse asking, “Do you still want him?”

Responding in the affirmative, she adds, “I alternated between being excited, wanting to throw up and thinking I should be committed.”

She hung up the phone, and the race was on.

Needing to get him from Point A to B during the start of the holidays, Paquette reached out to trainers and horsemen to help move the horse from the Finger Lakes to a barn in Maine, 10 hours away.

This was where the friends she made over the years dug deep and helped Paquette realize her dream. Suffolk trainer Karl Grusmark helped ship him to Belmont in New York, where another friend, Joe Signore, took care of him for a week while she made plans to get him to Maine.

“There were a lot of people helping me with this.”

Finally, on Nov. 28, Trippi made it to Jessica Creighton-Swift’s farm Freer Sone House Stables of Maine.

“Seeing him for the first time was perfect – he was just sticking his head out of the stall, watching, and was very tolerant of my gushing and hugging,” Paquette says.

Trippi settles in

The plan is to let him down over the winter while Paquette gets her seat back with riding lessons. Come spring, the goal is to start Trippi on a path to become a pleasure horse. No more competition in his foreseeable future.

Although Trippi had a promising first year in his racing career, once powering his way up the rail to win after appearing hopelessly beaten, he never really did much in subsequent years.

Any comparison with Seabiscuit’s racing career wouldn’t cut it.

But as Paquette’s first horse, he’s perfect.

Like the day Tom Smith met his famous horse, Paquette knew it from the moments his ears perked up and he dragged his groom toward her.

“From that day on, I thought, he’s mine.”

7 responses to “Suffolk Downs publicist buys first racehorse”

  1. Tom Ward

    I have to tell you how touched I was by your story, Susan. The Seabuscuit comparison was a hook, Jessica and Trippi are very compelling characters, and your ability to bring it together so consisely is nothing short of great writing.

    Karl Grusmark and I were good friends in high school and lost touch more than 49 years ago. He loved horses back then and it’s gratifying to learn that he was able to stay with it.

    Thanks again for a great story, and if either you or Jessica are in touch with Karl please give him my best.


  2. Jessica

    Thank you everyone and thank you to Susan for such a lovely story! I’m just really thrilled to have him and it wouldn’t have been possible without his original trainer George Saccardo and his next one, Mike LeCesse, Karl Grusmark, Joe Signore, Jr., Pat Vassallo & Anna Fenton and Jessica Swift! It took a village, but we got him home 🙂

  3. Leanne

    Congrats Jessica! Enjoy him!

  4. Whitney Mulqueen

    Congrats to Jessica!!! What a wonderful story! I have a Suffolk boy that she followed, “d’ Lightful Appeal” he is chillin’ in NE PA.

  5. Tweets that mention Suffolk Downs publicist buys first racehorse | --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jessica Chapel, Bob Grant. Bob Grant said: RT @jnchapel: Lovely story about @suffolkdowns' @jmpaquette and What a Trippi on Off-Track Thoroughbreds today: […]

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