It’s not easy conducting an international investigation, in Hungary and Germany, lying in bed on a Sunday afternoon with a laptop perched on my chest in Park Slope, Brooklyn, cup of coffee nearby, but here’s what I’ve come up with: Barbara Budinszky is missing!
She’s not as famous as The Who’s Baba O’Riley, but Where’s Barbara Budinszky? is probably what Hungarian sprinter Overdose would ask his principal owner Zoltan Mikoczy if he could speak like Mr. Ed. And Why is she gone is What I’d ask the owner, if I spoke the language of the ethnic Hungarian Slovak whose brilliant orchestration of the iconic sprinter’s career hit a sour note at Iffezheim Racecourse in Germany today. The Budapest Bullet, if you haven’t heard by now, lost for the first time in 15 starts in Baden-Baden, without his beloved Barbara Budinszky by his side, as far as I can tell. He threw a tantrum that lasted eight minutes at the starting stalls, dumped rider Christophe Soumillon, and had nothing in the straight when the running started.
Now Overdose has always lathered up like the steamed milk in a cafe latte before races, but his bad-boy tactics before the Group 2 Goldene Peitsche today were particularly rebellious, and if Barbara Budinszky were around she’d tell you, me, Mr. Mikoczy and new trainer Jozef Roszival and his staff the same thing. She’d also tell us that the idiosyncratic little horse she’s cared for at the Alag stables in Budapest from Day One of his arrival as a yearling from Britain is a terrible shipper, and the 15-hour journey he endured this week to arrive in Baden-Baden without her calming presence by his side would have put him in a lousy mood, to begin with.
I know all the details, by the way, because I’ve been a fan of the horse like a teenage girl with Justin Bieber. Yes, I admit that I’ve followed the minute details of this colt’s rise to prominence in 2008, and his exploits, frankly, inspired me to start this blog in January of 2009. Check the landscaped photo at the top of the blog for proof: Yes, that’s Overdose, lathered up, with the white shadow roll, winning a race—which is all he’d done until today.
When Overdose went to the sidelines after his April 2009 season debut at Kincsem Park in Budapest with foot problems, Mr. Mikoczy sent the colt to France and Britain for months of treatment, accompanied by Barbara Budinszky. She’d been his groom, exercise rider, best friend and travel companion from the beginning, and she’d been around through the upheavals of Mr. Mikoczy’s arrest in Romania and the change of trainers from Sandor Ribarszki to Jozef Roszival this year. And from my investigations today, she’d been with the camp as recently as June of this year. See the photo below, dated June 9:
Ms. Budinszky also was used exclusively by ex-trainer Sandor Ribarszki to gallop and work the colt because she had a touch with him and knew exactly how fit and ready he was. Here she is galloping Overdose at Alag in early 2009:
Ms. Budinszky would also lead in her friend after each win, and below she’s shown bringing the colt to the winner’s enclosure after his lone start in 2009:
Now, under the new regime of trainer Jozef Roszival, Ms Budinszky appears to be gone. Below is Overdose in Baden-Baden with a new handler, and below that is a recent photo of him with a new gallop boy.
I can’t tell when exactly Ms. Ms Budinszky left after the June 9, 2010 photo, but she was apparently not with her friend after Overdose won the Aug. 15, 2010, race at Kincsem Park, as the video below shows. It’s footage I’d downloaded from Hungarian television, edited here to show the post-race goings on, and clearly Overdose has new handlers.
Where have you gone, Ms. Budinszki?