This one-eyed horse named Patch just qualified for the most prestigious horse race in the world.
In one sense the Thoroughbred Patch seems to have everything going for him. At three years old, he's young and handsome. He's owned by Calumet Farm, one of the premier breeders of Thoroughbred horses in the world, and trained by Todd Pletcher, one of the most renowned racehorse trainers of the day.
However, there is one big thing that makes Patch very different from his competitors: he's missing an eye. Yet, this one-eyed horse hasn't let that hold him back from achieving his destiny.
Born March 18, 2014, Patch was sired by former Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags. He lost his left eye early in his career due to a track accident. Still, he managed to win one of his first races, a maiden special weight race (for horses that have not yet won a race) at Gulfstream Park, and finish a close second in the other.
His third race, and first graded stakes race, was the Louisiana Derby on April 1. Though it was a huge jump in class from his maiden races, his trainers were confident in his abilities.
Adele Bellinger, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, told BloodHorse before the race:
"Patch has a nice turn of foot and a lot of talent. It's not easy to jump up into a grade 2 out of a maiden race, but I feel like we have a sound, happy horse and that gives me confidence going into the race."
Patch lived up to their expectations and managed to take second, finishing just behind competitor Girvin. Better yet, the 40 points he earned in the race were enough to qualify him for the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the prestigious Triple Crown.
He is not the only Pletcher-trained horse that could be running in the Derby. Out of the twenty qualified horses, Pletcher trains Patch, and four of his stablemates, Always Dreaming, Tapwrit, Malagacy, and Battalion Runner.
— Michael Adolphson (@AdolphsonRacing) March 31, 2017
Qualifying for the Derby is a huge achievement for any horse, but especially for a horse with a missing eye. But Patch, described by racehorse expert Michael Adolphson on Twitter as a "curious, quirky and friendly horse (if not also mischievous)" seems well equipped to keep his four feet planted firmly on the ground -- at least until race day.
There's no doubt all "eyes" will be on this special horse on the first Saturday in May.
Will you be rooting for Patch in the Kentucky Derby? Tell us below!
All images via Twitter/AdolphsonRacing.
WATCH NOW: Endo the Blind Horse Is an Inspiration