|Contact: Graham Ross
Saturday, September 16, 2000
BRIAN GRIGGS & MIKE GOETZ: APPRECIATIVE FANS LIVING A DREAM
Shortly after the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie is contested late in the afternoon of September 30, dusk will embrace the cantilevered roof at Arlington International, and thoroughbred racing fans on hand at Chicago's premier oval will have an unobstructed view of a ceremonial fireworks display.
Signifying the close of Arlington's summer season, the fireworks will culminate an afternoon and evening that has also been designated as "Fan Appreciation Day" at the local oval, with free admission for all throughout the racing day and the perennially popular pyrotechnics that will follow.
However, with the Lassie as the centerpiece on the final racing day of Arlington's 103-day meeting that began May 14, all those present might need only look down at the winner's circle following the Lassie to find the ultimate in appreciative racing fans.
Brian Griggs and Mike Goetz are the owners of a two-year-old filly named She's a Devil Due, a daughter of Devil His Due who was born with the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick's Day in 1998.
She's a Devil Due won the $75,000 Top Flight Stakes here September 9, and that six furlong sprint served as the final local prep for the upcoming Lassie. After trailing the field early in the Top Flight, She's a Devil Due circled the field and rallied boldly in the lane to get up to win by a nose in the final jump.
Based on her running style as well as her breeding, She's a Devil Due should appreciate the additional two furlongs of the Lassie distance. "I don't think there's any doubt about that," trainer Kenny McPeek said, when asked about one-mile Lassie. "We've tried to focus on getting her to relax in the early part of a race, and it's amazing the way she has responded."
But McPeek is an experienced horseman who has been around the thoroughbred game all his life. Owners Griggs and Goetz, like She's a Devil Due, are native Kentuckians, and as such have been around the game all their lives as blue-collar fans, but until now only with the dream of someday owning a race horse.
She's a Devil Due is that horse, and the two assembly line workers for Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, Kentucky may have caught lightning in a bottle.
"I work in quality control, and Mike works in assembly," said Griggs when explaining their jobs. "He builds and I inspect."
Not too surprisingly, neither Griggs at 36 or Goetz at 35 are wealthy men thus far in their young careers.
"We both got home equity loans in order to buy this horse," Griggs said. "So far, we've just been 'grunting' the monthly cost. I wouldn't recommend what we've done to others, but we're both single. In a worst case scenario, we could have sold our homes, and if we hadn't started making purses, we'd be home eating beans right now."
So far, the worst case scenario has not developed. With the winners' share of the Top Flight worth $45,000, She's a Devil Due has earned $88,200 while undefeated in three trips to the post.
"This whole experience has been like a lucky horseshoe falling out of the sky for us," said Griggs. "I can't put into words how excited we are and how grateful we are to Kenny and his whole staff and (assistant trainer) Sally Schu especially for the outstanding job they've done with this filly.
"When we came to Arlington for the Top Flight, it was the first time we'd been there," said Griggs. "I couldn't believe it. It's even prettier than Keeneland, and suddenly we were there in the winner's circle with the big boys, and everyone was so nice to us and so genuinely interested in us. That was a whole new level of excitement for us with our meager background.
"We're still pinching ourselves," concluded Griggs. "We're living a dream. It's a Cinderella story and the cards are falling the right way. We know how lucky we are. This has been an unbelievable experience. We're in awe."
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