Nate Hubbard's Wild Ride

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The print comes in two sizes

11 x 14" edition size of 50, framed or unframed

16 x 20" edition size of 25, framed or unframed

The original oil is for sale too and it comes framed. 


This is the story behind the painting. .

This is the story about a very unusual way to finish a race. The date was Feb. 3, 1989 and it was the 1st race of the day. The track was rated as sloppy and that was an understatement. We've all heard about the consistency of the mud to be like pea soup. This was literally like pea soup. I was near the front for the whole race and I was covered with mud. Nate was even worse. 
In previous races I had been riding both my filly, Current Lady, one of the favorites and Sweet Water Oak, the filly that Nate rode. I thought that they both had a great chance but wasn't sure how they would run in the mud. As it turned out, they both loved it. 
The race was for 12,500 maiden claiming three year old fillies, just another race. The distance was a mile. When the gate opened the speed crossed over from the outside and I eased my filly back to 3rd or 4th. Nate's filly didn't have any speed and she was at the back of the pack. I just let my filly coast around the first turn and down the backside. As we approached the far turn I could tell that the leaders were getting tired so I just waited a little longer thinking that somebody would be coming at us down lane and I needed to reserve her strength. As we approached the quarter pole the leaders were stopping and I inherited the lead.
In the meantime Nate on Sweet Water Oak had crept closer up the backside. He hugged the rail around the far turn and swung her out as we turned into the lane. By that time he was within 3 lengths of us. I was on the lead and could hear him coming. He was yelling and screaming at her and I could tell that he was getting closer and closer. My filly was still running but he was gaining on us. As we approached the 1/16 pole the thought occurred to me that he was going to get by us. I could just feel it. They were already up to my filly's flank. I could almost reach back and touch her forehead. I tapped my mount a couple times and as did I could feel her take a bad step. She recovered immediately and I knew exactly what had happened and looked back. I knew that Nate's filly had clipped my filly's front outside heel. That is what caused my filly to take a bad step.
I looked back to see if Nate had fallen and was shocked to see him dangling in front of the horse with his arms wrapped around her neck. I couldn't believe it and just kept looking back. I even forgot about the race until after we crossed the wire. Nate kept hanging on and finished 2nd. My friend, Ronnie Warren, galloped up beside the filly after the wire and put his hand on her forehead. That got her to pull up so Nate could get off.
Immediately the inquiry sign went up. The stewards would make a decision on what needed to be done. They had to decide if the incident was caused by my horse or his. They also needed to determine if Nate's feet had touched the ground. If they had, even for a fraction of a second, they would have to disqualify his filly because technically she hadn't carried the weight during the entire race.
I was happy that Nate hadn't fallen but was concerned that I may have caused the accident. If it was my fault then my number would be taken down and Nate's moved up to first. If that had happened I probably would have gotten suspended for five days on top of it. After several minutes the results were made official. My number stayed up because it was determined that Nate's filly came in slightly and ticked my filly's heels and stumbled. They also kept Sweet Water Oak at 2nd because Nate's feet didn't touch. 
The next day the photo and story was in almost every paper in the nation. TV news stations came out for days to do interviews with the track's promotional department, Nate, and me. It was crazy! This photograph, taken by Peggy Grunweld,  won the Eclipse Award that year.
Now I'll give my thoughts on the whole thing. There really is a good chance that Nate would have won the race but we'll never know. One thing I could never figure out is why Nate let his filly drift over onto my filly's heels. As much room as there is on a racetrack, there is no reason for 2 horses to be running so closely together down the stretch, and especially in the mud. I think that what may have happened is that Nate's vision was hindered by the mud on his goggles. On days like that jockeys will wear 4 or 5 pairs of goggles and as they get covered with mud, pull them down one at a time. He may have run out of goggles. He had only been riding for a few months and was pretty green so that's a possibility.

His filly may have been getting very loop-legged (tired) because on sloppy days the come-from-behind horses might pick up 10 to 20 pounds of mud and it causes them to get tired quicker. When a horse gets loop-legged they don't put their feet down where they should and maybe that's why she clipped my filly's heel. One thing that I know is that Nate was very strong. I think that his arms instinctively grabbed onto the filly when she stumbled and as he realized where he was, there was no way he was to letting go. The filly stumbled so badly that 99 out of 100 times she would have fallen. Somehow she caught herself and came back up and Nate's hands were clasped around her neck. He did the opposite that jockeys do when a horse stumbles that badly. The desire is to get as far away from the horse when it falls so that the horse doesn't fall on you. By God's grace Nate held on and finished the race.

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  • 5
    Beautifully detailed painting of an Eclipse moment

    Posted by Sandra Warren on 11th Apr 2018

    When I heard that Tom was planning to paint "Nate's Wild Ride," I knew I would want to buy it right away. I saw the race that day, and we were all surprised by the steward's ruling. No one had realized that Nate's feet had never touched the ground, and his horse had carried the weight all the way around the track to the wire as required. I cut the photo out of the newspaper and it was on my fridge for quite a while. It was a fond memory for me of racing in the 80's. The painting and subsequent giclee exceed all my expectations. Every aspect of the two horses and riders is richly detailed. I bought the 11"x14" giclee framed, and it was very nice and ready to hang upon arrival. The art also came with a fancy certificate and printout on parchment with a page-long write-up from Tom about how it happened, with interesting details about the aftermath as well. The art arrives very well packaged. As I was opening the large box, I carelessly knocked over a huge glass of OJ, and the wrapped art tumbled right into the spill, but the bubble wrap protected my new treasure. Tom is very honest and it is easy to make a purchase from him. If you collect racing art, this is not to be missed!

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