September 2, 1961 -- Horse players are like poker players; they love to tell others about their tough losses.
They had perhaps the best story ever to tell after a race that took place on this day. Puss n Boots was clearly headed to victory in a race on Fort Erie's Turf Course. He had a five-length lead with very little track left to run. What could go wrong?
Plenty. Puss n Boots saw an opening the hedges along the track and darted through it. The horse then decided to jump into the lake that was part of the infield, losing jockey Ronnie Behrens along the way. A crowd of 14,106 rubbed its eyes in unison.
Puss n Boots went on to race against horses that took part in Triple Crown races as a three-year-old, and won some stakes races in a nine-year career. What's more, Puss n Boots came back to the Fort in 1963 to win the Niagara Stakes on that same turf course.
The Puss n Boots Cup is still on the racing calendar today. The winning jockey always goes for a swim in that same body of water, now named "Lake Puss n Boots."
--- Budd Bailey