P Val, the Ant Man and another Charismatic big brown


Big Brown’s shot for glory in the Belmont got me thinking about a horse named Charismatic, a horse that truly had an opportunity for greatness only to break down in the stretch of the Belmont in 1999 and finish third.

That after winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness….

Charsimatic got me thinking about jockey Patrick Valenzuela, one of the most troubled, yet charismatic, jocks ever to ride at Santa Anita or Hollywood Park.

Valenzuela’s struggles with substance abuse, suspension, and a robbery accusation, only highlight the demons some riders face.

If anyone had his share of demons, it was Charismatic’s rider Chris Antley, “the Ant Man.”

It was Chris Antley’s heroic move jumping from Charismatic’s back in the Belmont stretch that saved the injured horse’s life. Sadly Antley’s own life was cut short when he died in Pasadena in 2000.

The case was initially treated as a homicide, but for some reason Pasadena police dropped their investigation after learning Antley had ingested a toxic cocktail of illegal substances that may have contributed to his death.


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  • Thank you for sharing the beautiful painting of Charismatic. I had forgotten. My mind is a sieve.

    Wonder what the story is behind “the Ant Man” -don’t know him from Adam. (ding!)

  • I should read the links before I comment:

    Japan shouldn’t breed him if he broke down. The weakness is not going to go away. It was the jockey that saved him, and that was lucky. Not so lucky for sweet Eight Belles. Things really have to change.

  • Local Boy

    I know that Antley was a major meth user for years. I don’t know if he was at the time of his death but he certainly had problems. P. Val is not much different, that’s why Nakatani and other riders avoided him as much as possible and didn’t want him on the track.