BLOOMINGTON — The roar emanating from the packed grandstands of one of the most iconic sports facilities in the world was indicative of the upset that was in the making.
The outburst that emerged simultaneously in the living room of a home on Bloomington's southeast side — while significantly less thunderous — was equally enthusiastic and sufficient in scope to result in an unintended consequence.
"It scared the cat," said Darrell Brommer, referring to the Thanksgiving Day uproar in a house just off Hershey Road that sent Jesse, a 15-year old feline, hightailing it away from the "crazy humans" gathered around the television screen.
Brommer and his wife, Sadie, were hosting a small family gathering that not only included the traditional turkey and trimmings, but tuned in to satellite channel TVG to watch their homebred racehorse, Prado's Sweet Ride, compete in the 103rd running of the Falls City Handicap at legendary Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Like tens of thousands in attendance at the track, the family would be brought to its feet to raucously cheer on Prado's Sweet Ride as the filly pulled off a stunning upset over the prohibitive favorite in the day's main event.
"It's indescribable. You just can't put it in words, that feeling," said Sadie, of owning a horse that's now won twice at the most storied racecourse in the world. Prado's Sweet Ride's first victory at Churchill Downs came when she was a 9-1 underdog in the 2015 Regret Stakes.
This time she entered at 5-1 before outrunning 3-5 favorite Devine Miss Grey by a healthy 4¾ lengths.
"I'm getting chills thinking about it right now," Sadie said on a recent cold, damp December afternoon at the Brommers' kitchen table. "This little Illinois-bred horse, a horse that we bred and own, just blew them away at Churchill Downs."
Prado's Sweet Ride's victory was worth $121,520 to the Brommers and brought the 6-year old's career earnings to $548,914.
She's amassed that by finishing in the money in 20 of her 30 outings with eight wins. She's also finished second five times and third on seven other occasions.
Those are numbers worthy of a major league Churchill Downs entry. To win at the track also would require a "big league" jockey, and the Brommers hit the jackpot when Frenchman Florent Geroux was available to mount Prado's Sweet Ride in the Falls City.
Geroux has earned a top-10 ranking among North American jockeys. His resume includes riding The Pizza Man to victory in the 2015 Arlington Million.
The following year, he picked up the mount of Gun Runner at the start of the season and posted a win in the Louisiana Derby and a third-place showing in the Kentucky Derby, en route to more than $17 million in earnings.
Still aboard Gun Runner in 2017, he raced to victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic and four other stakes races while also finishing second in the Dubai World Cup.
The best was still to come for both horse and rider. Earlier this year, Geroux rode Gun Runner to victory in the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Florida's Gulfstream Park, the most lucrative event in horse racing history.
On Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs, Prado's Sweet Ride was raring to go when Geroux climbed on.
Not known for fast starts, the horse bolted into the lead out of the gate from the No. 6 starting post.
Gauging the oncoming traffic behind her, Geroux masterfully guided Prado's Sweet Ride down to the rail and the shortest way around the track. From there, she set the pace through fractions of :23.93, :48.60 and 1:13.17 before rounding the final turn.
By this time favorite Divine Miss Grey had pulled to within 1½ lengths and was positioned for a thrilling charge down the homestretch.
With some coaxing from Geroux at the top of the stretch, Prado's Sweet Ride laid back her ears, flared her nostrils and dug in to fend off the challenge. With her powerful stride blending beautifully with the heart of a champion, she kicked on her equine afterburners and pulled away for a decisive triumph.
"She always gives her everything and she never gives up," Sadie said.
The Brommers have never given up on their passion for horse racing, weathering the peaks and valleys of the sport for the past few decades.
"It can get you down," Darrell said. "But it's been a long, good haul. It's entertainment and we don't have anything else for an outlet that can give us as much joy, especially when it's something like what just happened (at Churchill Downs)."
Prado's Sweet Ride is the most successful among a number of horses that the Brommers have bred and owned through the years. Approaching her seventh birthday, Prado's Sweet Ride's racing days are numbered.
Upon retirement, she'll join the Brommers' small stable of brood mares.
The couple received the Illinois Breeder of the Year award in 2015. With two wins at Churchill Downs and a solid reference from a jockey the caliber of Geroux, Prado's Sweet Ride's stock and reputation as a potential mother to future champions has skyrocketed.
"It's kind of risky to continue to race her because of her value as a broodmare," Sadie said.
In the immediate future, Prado's Sweet Ride, who is trained by Chris Block and stabled at Arlington Park, is scheduled to race in higher dollar stakes races in New Orleans later this month and in Texas early next year.