There were miles of smiles after Saturday's third race at Santa Anita Park.
Barry Abrams was coming to the Winner's Circle.
The former trainer, who has gallantly battled throat cancer for 15 years, is part owner as Bardy Farm of Mo Forza, winner of the Grade II Qatar Twilight Derby at odds of nearly 19-1. Onofrio Pecoraro, who campaigns as OG Boss, also owns a share of the 3-year-old colt.
The throng waited anxiously but patiently for Abrams to amble down the Club House steps and the ramp leading to his destination.
Upon arrival, emotional hugs and kisses beyond the norm were the order of the day.
Abrams, who turns 66 come March 4, was 51 when stricken with inoperable throat cancer. Ten years later and 60 pounds lighter, some of it weight from the throat cancer doctors ultimately had no choice but to remove, Abrams was still doing what he loved best, coming to the race track and training Thoroughbreds.
Now, though further diminished physically, the native of Minsk, Russia, once a bear of a man at 6-4, 315 pounds, is courageous beyond question, not given to soliciting sympathy for his plight, maintains his sense of humor, and is generous without making a fuss about it.
Take it from trainer Richard Baltas, who assisted Abrams in his barn operation during Barry's five-month recovery from surgery in 2011.
“He's very kind with a good heart,” Baltas recalled. “Years ago I wanted to leave Louisiana and come to California, but I needed a job. Barry didn't quibble. He simply asked me, 'How much do you want to make?' and that was it.
“He came to my wedding on Feb. 26, 2011, when he was sick with cancer. He's done many kind and generous things for me. He took me and my wife (Debby) to Las Vegas, bought the plane tickets, even bought us tickets to shows. We saw 'Jersey Boys.'”
Adds Abrams' wife, Dyan: “Barry is so kind and helpful. If you needed the shirt off his back, he'd give it to you . . . He's one of the good ones. He's got a good heart and a good soul.”
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.