Purim Fulfills a Dream

At the Shadwell Turf Mile, a Grade 1 race, hardly anyone took notice of a racehorse named Purim. All eyes were on the racing favorites, with names such as Shakis, Astronomer Royal and Cosmonaut. But it was Purim, the 21-1 underdog, and his jockey, Jamie Theriot, who knew that this race was their ticket to the Breeders’ Cup and their chance to fulfill the dream of E.J. Sukley, Purim’s owner. When it all came down to Cosmonaut and Purim, it was Purim that dug a little deeper and caused a huge upset win at the Shadwell Turf Mile.

E.J. Sukley is not one of the horse racing industry’s big hitters. He was not born into money, and yet horse racing seemed to be in his blood. Horse racing first captured the heart of Sukley while he was delivering letters for the Joliet postal service. After his workday came to an end, he would find himself at the racecourse, watching the elegant and powerful thoroughbreds charge around the racecourse, and a dream was born. He bought his first racehorse in 1979 and slowly started to build his way up in the horse racing industry. Sukley dreamt of one day owning a horse that would take him either to the Breeders’ Cup or to the starting gates of the Kentucky Derby. Over the years he suffered many set backs, but together with trainer Tom Procter, he dealt with each blow and carried on. The first chance he took was leaving the postal service to start his own sheet metal and roofing business, and his last, was to breed what he believed to be his dream horse.

Fortunately, Sukley owns a small share in the well-known stallion, Dynaformer. And with Dynaformer as sire and Kirsteena as dam, Sukley hoped that it would be the winning combination. Many people wonder about Purim’s name, where it came from and what it means. Purim is actually the name of a Jewish holiday, where victory over oppression is celebrated. Sukley is not Jewish, and quite private about his religious views, but said that he had read the name in a Bible. Its meaning seemed quite fitting, as it means “roll the die”. And with Kirsteena being a broodmare in his own stable, Sukley was symbolically rolling the die and taking a chance.

Of course, there is a $50 000 entry fee into the Breeders’ Cup, but with Purim winning the Shadwell, he also brought home $372 000 in winnings, which has secured his spot in the starting gates of the Breeders’ Cup. The rest of the money, Sukley advises, will be used for his next horse, as he might have retired from working life, but his time in the horse racing industry is far from over. With one racing dream coming true, only the Kentucky Derby remains, and with the faith, trust and love that Sukley invests in each horse he owns, it is only a matter of time until he is seen living his second dream.

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