Kirkpatrick & Co. Presents In Their Care: Aspiring Horseman Blake Dutrow Learning ‘There Are No Shortcuts’ by Tom Pedulla|08.14.202308.15.2023|12:55pm2:35pm Blake Dutrow, outside of White Abarrio’s stall, with his grandmother Vickie, the mother of trainer Rick Dutrow The Dutrow racing family appears to have another member in the pipeline. Blake Dutrow can still remember how much fun it would be when he would accompany his grandfather, Dick, a top Maryland horseman, to the barn to treat the horses to carrots and peppermints. He has spent his young life learning about racing from his father, Chip, and his uncles, Tony and Rick. “The best horse racing families you see pass it along from generation to generation,” said Blake, 31. Blake is an understudy to Rick as his uncle makes a comeback from a 10-year suspension punctuated by White Abarrio's rousing triumph in the Whitney at Saratoga. Their relationship extends far beyond mentor and mentee. Blake has been unwavering in his love and support for Rick as his Kentucky Derby-winning uncle served a suspension that represented one of the sternest disciplinary actions in the sport's history.Blake lived with his uncle during the early years of the punishment. He was always willing to listen when Rick needed to talk. “I wasn't looking for friends when I was out,” Rick said. “But he was there.” They would retreat to Rick's basement on Sunday afternoons during football season, just the two of them. And they would talk racing. “He would always tell me, 'Blake, I'm going to get back and we're going to win big races,'” Blake recalled. “There were times when I thought he might not even have the chance to get back.” If there was to be a comeback, Blake decided his uncle would not go it alone. “I kind of knew whether it was five years in or the full 10, that I would do whatever I could to help Rick,” the nephew said. They started at Belmont Park in early April with one horse, a filly named Recognize. “I'll rub her,” Dutrow told Blake, “and you'll walk her.” Owners who had not forgotten that Dutrow trained 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown or that he won the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2005 with Horse of the Year Saint Liam, among other accomplishments, gradually returned. Blake stood with his uncle when Prince of Pharoahs, his first starter, won on May 6 at Belmont Park. They were again side by side when White Abarrio, transferred to their rapidly-growing barn ahead of a solid third-place finish in the Met Mile, drew off to win the Whitney by 6 ¼ lengths on Aug. 5, Rick's 64th birthday. “It's crazy how fast it all happened. If you would have said we were going to run in the Whitney this summer, let alone win it, I would probably have said 'You're crazy,'” Blake said. “But if anybody is crazy enough to do it, it's definitely my uncle Rick. He tells me all the time, 'We're going to win another Derby. We're going to win Breeders' Cup races and get back to where we were before.'” This story is very much a family affair. Chip accompanies any horses that need to be shipped out of town for races. Blake stays behind to oversee a small string at Saratoga and will remain there until that meet closes on Labor Day. Rick trains the majority of horses at Belmont Park. Blake Dutrow, left, with his uncle, Rick, and father, Chip Rick said of his nephew's role, “We're trying to give Blake the chance to learn the horse racing game. He wants to learn it and he has plenty of opportunities to do that.” Due to the lack of staff at this early stage, there are times when Blake must figure out things for himself. That may not necessarily be a bad thing. “We don't rush him to learn,” Rick said. “He learns on his own, just like I did, just like most horsemen do.” However checkered Rick's past might be due to assorted violations, his passion for his horses is undeniable. Blake sees that every day. “To guys like Rick, they live for it,” Blake said. “If he could make the days longer so he could spend more time with the horses, I'm sure he would.” Blake has accompanied his uncle back to the barn after dinner. “That's his favorite time of day – at night – because nobody is there,” the nephew said. “When you come and see your horses, all of their necks are out. They're just so happy to see him because they know exactly why he's there, to feed them candy.” Sweet moments, indeed, taking Blake back to those carrots and peppermints with his grandfather. The Whitney provided an incredible moment. Rick also wants his nephew to understand that the Whitney stems from attention to the daily grind. Blake Dutrow with the Whitney winner, White Abarrio “He's got to go all in all the time,” Rick said. “There are no shortcuts to being a good horseman and that is what we want Blake to be.” Blake understands that he has so much to learn from Rick, his father and his uncle, Tony, if he is to train on his own. That is a goal worth chasing. “I love horses. I have the passion for it,” he said. “It's definitely in my blood as something I believe I was born to do.” Tom Pedulla, 2022 recipient of the Walter Haight Award from the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, wrote for USA Today from 1995-2012 and has been a contributor to the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Blood-Horse, America's Best Racing and other publications. If you wish to suggest someone as a potential subject for In Their Care, please send an email to info @ paulickreport.com that includes the person's name and contact information in addition to a brief description of the individual's background.