Dallas Stewart trains Will’s Secret and Lee Guidry is her exercise rider. The pair have been friends for over 40 years.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A couple of childhood friends, trainer Dallas Stewart and exercise rider Lee Guidry, looked for a little Oaks Day magic with the filly, Will’s Secret, who finished in third in the Kentucky Oaks.
When the pair were 15, Stewart moved across the street from Guidry in New Orleans. From there, the good times only started to roll.
“It was balls to the wall,” Stewart said with a laugh. “We just did everything with horses, boats, motorbikes and every crazy thing other than jump out of an airplane. We did everything.”
If you try to pry more details from the pair of 61-year-olds, you’re going to have some trouble.
“He knows better,” Stewart said, popping up from behind Guidry during an interview. “Because I probably had to bail him out.”
“He had to bail me out more than I bailed him out, okay,” Guidry confirmed with a smile.
However, the longtime trainer also helped him out. As the two prepare Will’s Secret for the Kentucky Oaks, Stewart trains her and Guidry is the filly’s exercise rider.
Their personal relationship became professional once Stewart made a suggestion.
“I was doing construction work,” Guidry said. “And one day, Dallas asked me if I’d like to get in the horse business. And I said, ‘Sure, why not?'”
Guidry started by walking horses, still working separately from Stewart. But he eventually became a jockey. That chance came one day when a rider didn’t show up and Guidry had to fill in to race, where he said he came in third with a horse listed at 10-1 odds to win. It impressed his employer.
“He said, ‘I tell you what: If I didn’t promise this other jockey to go to Chicago with me, I would ask you to go,'” Guidry said. “And I think that was the break of my lifetime.”
It led to a 20-year career filled with 1,000 wins. And once he was done, Guidry didn’t know what he’d do for a career. That’s where his old friend in Stewart came in to help.
“He said, ‘Lee, if you ever need a job, just look me up and call me,'” Guidry remembered. “And you got a job.”
Five years later, he took him up on that. Now, they’ve worked together for about 20 years.
“We get along so well,” Guidry said. “And then when we finish work, we don’t talk about the horses. We just go out, he has his family and that’s about it.”
“He’s just a very nice person,” Stewart said. “He just has nice things to say about people and it just bleeds over to the horses.”
“I love it, I really do,” Guidry said. “I can’t imagine working for anybody else.”
They can’t imagine what it would be like to win the Oaks with anybody else. Will’s Secret is running out of post 11 with 30-1 odds to take home the Garland of Lilies.
“She was competitive when she worked out and she got beat a few times in her workouts, but she always progressed,” Stewart said. “So hopefully, we’re in the right part of the progression now. It’s what we look for all year, to hopefully find a special horse that can compete.”
“I really think she’s got a really good chance of winning this race,” Guidry said. “She is so relaxed. I mean, she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. And those horses are rare.”
As rare as a wild ride of a 46-year friendship.
“He’s pretty remarkable,” Stewart said of Guidry.
“It really is special to ride this horse for him,” Guidry said of Stewart.