Zippy Chippy, the rematch?

April, 23, 2010
4/23/10
8:39
PM ET
BOSTON -- Darnell McDonald’s days of racing against horses may not be over.

The owner of Zippy Chippy has challenged the Red Sox outfielder to a rematch, nine years after the gelding beat McDonald in a 50-yard race when McDonald was a minor-league outfielder in Rochester, N.Y.

Zippy Chippy, now 20 years old, retired after losing all 100 of its races against four-legged rivals. But the horse will come out of retirement to race McDonald, and a jockey has already been lined up: Hall of Famer Chris McCarron, who also is retired and now runs a school for jockeys in Lexington, Ky.

“Let’s do it,’’ McDonald said Friday afternoon. “Bring it on. Tell them to bring Chippy, get the location and time. I’m there. We’ll have ‘Man vs. Beast II.’ ’’

The story has the whiff of a publicity stunt, but even if the race never comes to life, horse lovers are likely to appreciate why Zippy Chippy, who last raced seven years ago, still has his.

Old Friends Equine, a thoroughbred rescue/retirement facility, which is owned by Michael Blowen, who for 25 years served as film critic for The Boston Globe, purchased Zippy Chippy for $5,000, and just this week moved the horse to its farm near Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Blowen left a message for Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, whom he had gotten to know because of Epstein’s famous film ties (Epstein’s grandfather Philip and great-uncle Julius wrote the screenplay for “Casablanca”), proposing the rematch, according to Christine.

Red Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione, a longtime friend of Christine, told McDonald of the proposed race Friday afternoon in the Sox clubhouse.

“Just make sure that this time the race is 40 yards,’’ said McDonald, who expected to race at that distance and was no match for Zippy Chippy at 50.

“He probably would have beaten me at 40, too,’’ McDonald said. “They told me Zippy usually sits there in the gate, but of course there was no gate, and when he saw that green grass in front of him, he took off.’’

Editor's note: Horse racing writer Bill Christine did some further checking and discovered that Zippy Chippy did not have an imminent date with the equine version of the grim reaper (a rumor previously included in this blog entry), though some of his stablemates at Old Friends Farm were spared a certain death by owner Michael Blowen.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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