Louisville Magazine

APR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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kyoms.com 30 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 4.19 guy in Paris, Kentucky, who trains ponies for work at racetracks. At the Breeders' Cup, Wells-Rody and his dad and brother recognized Lightening. In jest, a dare. Wells-Rody likes pushing luck, plunging into "the midst of everything." He accepted. "I'll ride it," he said. No one stopped him when he passed through doors leading to the tunnel. He eyed the ponies, all lined up, waiting to go on the track. Wells-Rody approached Lightening's han- dler. "Hey, this used to be my horse. Care if I ride him?" he asked. He says the guy answered, "Sure." (Later, during all the yell- ing, Wells-Rody was pressed on who granted him permission, but, he says, "I don't rat." A spokesperson for Churchill Downs says the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission suspended the license of the contractor in charge of the ponies for the remainder of the fall meet after this incident.) Yes, Wells-Rody was enjoying some "Old No. 7" that day but denies being "manifest- ly" wasted — more like whiskey-confident. And, yes, he may have said an "eff you," but that only came after he dismounted Lightening and was handing the horse "back to the feller" it belonged to. e stunt? Brief, ballsy, harmless, in his mind. "ey cut me off at the door," Wells-Rody says. "And the guy doing all the hooting and hollering said he was the racing commissioner." Anger and accusations broiled. Out slipped an "eff you" (the saltier version). Minutes later, handcuffs clicked at the 24-year-old's wrists, just above the meaty hands coarsened by his job as a farrier, mostly at horse farms. (He says he has worked at Keeneland but not Churchill.) Wells-Rody says he was "put in the paddy wagon" and landed in jail for several hours. When folded into the main holding cell, someone asked him what he was in for. Be- fore Wells-Rody could tell the whole tale, he sampled celebrity status. We just saw you on the news, a few of the men said. A friend who lives in Australia caught his mug shot half a world away. "You in jail?" she messaged him. Comments dripped down from news stories, branding Wells-Rody a legend or a hooligan. A few days later, Wells-Rody opted for modest attire — a blue dress shirt tucked into belted khakis — for his appearance in Jefferson County District Court. His mis- chief ended up costing $145 in court fees, and he was told he must complete 25 hours of community service. He dutifully put in his time at a homeless shelter in George- town. Some days he weeded and mulched, other days he cleaned upholstery. One morn- ing, he says, he showed up with 15 pounds of flour, four pounds of cheese, six pounds of bacon and seven dozen eggs (courtesy of chickens from his family farm) to cook up fresh cathead biscuits for the place. His brief fame hasn't changed life much. He's still shoeing horses. e ordeal is fodder for a good laugh, like when his dad jokes that out of his five kids, "Congratulations, son, you're the first to go to jail." Wells-Rody is banned from Churchill Downs. He'd like to attend Derby one day, maybe with the help of a giant hat that would shield his face. Or he could say sorry. Before Wells-Rody was hauled to jail, he was asked to sign a piece of paper agreeing that he'll never re- turn to the racetrack unless he writes a letter of apology. Churchill Downs is still waiting. Racing is built on thrill, mostly from a safe distance, squished behind rails and gates. On Nov. 3, 2018, Wells-Rody itched to steal a bit of that thunder. So he hopped on Lightening. It's quite a story. Why go tidying up the ending? "I could write a letter but it's not going to be genuine," he says. "I'm not really sorry about it."

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