The Final Stretch

The Final Stretch

by Danny Summers

With a quick glance at the calendar and the Weekly Department Review (WDR) it is easy to see we are in "The Final Stretch" the spark for this blog post title. This has certainly been a different season, a late-arriving spring almost everywhere and when comparing numbers from the previous two years which both arrived earlier (and maybe stayed longer), we have had some year-to-date deficits to overcome this season.

I must admit I normally don't follow horse racing and normally don't watch the major races. We have enjoyed being with close friends who live in the Lexington and Louisville Kentucky areas in past years and have actually been to both Churchill Downs and Keeneland (just not on the big race days). Our friends Louis and Betsy Hillenmeyer have taken us to several of the farms around Lexington and we have marveled at the wonderful horses we saw there. But a few weeks ago when hearing the news following this year's Kentucky Derby, I realized there could be a correlation between the story of this year's Kentucky Derby unlikely winner and our Garden Retailing efforts this year. Here's just a little of the story of Rich Strike, the 1st Place Winner of the 148th running of The Kentucky Derby...

Rich Strike is really a Cinderella story. This 3-year-old colt was a last-minute addition to this year's Derby. In fact, his entry into the race happened just the day prior. With his late addition, he was mostly ignored by everyone.  His name didn't even show up on the souvenir t-shirts featuring all the horses. Can you imagine spending $$$ on a souvenir t-shirt and the winner is not even on it? I guess you take a sharpie and hand write him in!

Rich Strike was bred and foaled (born) in Lexington, but soon traveled south to Mayberry Farm in Ocala, Florida for breaking and training. By the way, Karen and I met, were married, and lived in Ocala during some of our early marriage years. April Mayberry, owner of Mayberry Farm, is quoted in the Ocala Star-Banner: "He was just kind of still a teenager when he left here. Sometimes the colts, they remind me of high school boys,” Mayberry joked. “They do everything except what they're supposed to do, and that's kind of common in the thoroughbred colts. They’re rambunctious and still playing and they're not serious yet.”  Still, she says Rich Strike was a "pretty good boy." She recalls thinking he probably had some talent, “but it was going to take him a little while to find it.” It turns out Rich Strike had limited early success with winning one of seven races and placed third in three more. The current owner bought him from the original owner in a claims race last fall for $30,000.

At the start of the race, this last-minute addition was at 79/1 odds of winning so everyone would expect him to finish well back in the field. But as they rounded... The Final Stretch, something began to happen. If you have not seen this, you need to take 3 minutes to see this amazing and encouraging story here:


Watching this exciting finish, and even hearing Eric Reed (Rich Strike's trainer)  talk about just wanting him to have a respectable finish in the race adds to how this young horse that very few knew and recognized... finished FIRST!

Can this story of Rich Strike be anything like what this spring and this year can be for our Garden Centers? Just like Rich Strike, when he turned the last corner and started down The Final Stretch, he began to gain ground and show his potential. The closer he got to the finish line, the more his position improved. 

When I hear Eric Reed say, "It's all about Richie, he's this miracle that just shouldn't be here. He's the one that did all the work. He just can't do all the talking." – this reminds me of everyone on your Garden Center Teams – every person who has planned, prepared, and worked all the days and weeks to serve your guests. You all are the ones who brought the miracles of flowers and the gardening experiences to the world around you!

In The Final Stretch for this Spring Season, will our Centers have anywhere close to the finish of Rich Strike? It may be unlikely but certainly better than 79/1 odds! We all must admit, with the gains we have experienced the past 2+ years, we will certainly still finish like Eric Reed was hoping for his horse... a very respectable finish!

As my Big Brother always says... Finish Strong And be sure to honor all of your team who have served and made it all possible.

We hope to see you in Kansas City!

Mark Your Calendar - September 19-22, 2022 - You'll be busy and out of town!

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Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

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