Always Dreaming may have won the Kentucky Derby, but there was one horse in Saturday’s race who captured a better prize: the hearts of fans worldwide. Meet Patch, the one-eyed equine who’s charming Kentucky Derby fans with his uniquely optimistic outlook on life, racing in the face of disability.
Whether you’re a fan of the Kentucky Derby — or just the annual event’s pageantry and over-the-top headgear realness — anyone with (or without) eyes can see that Patch is a creature both humans and horses alike can look up to. After suffering a debilitating eye ulcer, vets removed Patch’s left eyeball last year, permanently impairing the horse’s vision and all but dashing his hopes of competing for horse racing’s biggest prize.
But always one to keep his (right) eye on the prize, the 3-year-old colt and his trainer, Todd Pletcher, refused to give up. Defying all odds, Patch competed in three races ahead of his Kentucky Derby qualification, placing second at last April’s Louisiana Derby and finishing an eye-popping first in a race at Florida’s Gulfstream track. Though he didn’t win yesterday’s Derby, he did place 14th out of 20.
On Twitter, Patch quickly developed a huge fan base, with Derby watchers around the world rooting for his victory:
And though Patch may have to wait until next year to take his victory lap ’round the Churchill Downs track, we know that when that day comes, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
We’ve got our eye you, Patch!