Danica Patrick takes to role of helping foal
Some look at Danica Patrick and see a race car driver. Some see a female race car driver. Some see a pitch person trying to sell them a domain name in ever-present television commercials.
Patrick the foal saw a wet nurse.
"He was looking for the meal," Patrick said, grinning, thumbing quickly through her smartphone for the photograph that captured the moment. "He knew what to do. I'm like, 'Baby, you ain't gonna find anything there.' ''
Some background might be in order: During Sprint Cup race weekend in April in Texas, Patrick was on her way to lodge for the night at the ranch of her agent, Mark Dyer, north of Dallas, when the Dyers' champion dam, These Irons R Dancin, went into labor with little Patrick. Dyer and Patrick arrived just after the foal was born, but the driver enthusiastically transformed into an amateur equine midwife with little prompting.
"She helped him get up and get going. She dried him off. The vet was giving him a shot, and Danica was there to be part of all that," Dyer's wife, Tammy, said. "She took over as soon as he hit the ground. It was really a lot of fun.
"She was all about it. I said, 'You want to be part of this?' And she said, 'Heck, yeah, I do!' "
And as for the unexpected advance?
"She was drying him off, and he was trying to nurse her," Tammy Dyer said, laughing. "It was just really funny. The look on her face was priceless."
Patrick, obviously not offended, was up early and checking on the foal by the time Dyer awoke the next day.
"It's just a great honor to have a horse named after me," Patrick said.
"Patrick" will remain the foal's "barn" name, according to Dyer's stepdaughter, Sharnai Thompson. His official registered name with the American Quarter Horse Association will be "A Boy Named HOO," in homage to his father, Hot Ones Only, the most successful stallion in the organization's history.
Thompson said the official name works well, as it also is a reference to the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue," and Sue is Danica Patrick's middle name. Patrick will begin training to compete in two years.
The Dyers keep a camera in Patrick's stall and update the driver with numerous photos, several of which she was showing off like a proud aunt at Darlington Raceway last weekend.
"This is him yesterday. I got a picture of him yesterday," she said. "They have to stand up to feed, and they want them to stand up within like the first 15 to 45 minutes ... He took a little bit longer, but … he figured it out. It was a little hard to find the nipple for a second, but he figured it out."
Patrick was unaware just how much her name has been referenced before, especially in the animal racing realm. "Danica'' and "Danicas Go Daddy'' have been used for greyhounds, and in what would otherwise be a massive coincidence, a chestnut filly named "Danica irl'' was born in 2005 -- Patrick's breakout season in the Indianapolis 500 -- to a father named Pioneering.
"Really? Shut up," she said. "Holy crap, that's cool. My mom should be very flattered she gave me a unique name that people want to use.
"Animals are kind of like kids, and you're thinking of names to name them and it always reminds you of someone for the most part. It's hard to find a name that hasn't been used or makes you think of something. So the fact that someone would go ahead and choose one because of me, that's a big compliment."
In the past half-year, all coinciding with her relationship with fellow driver and cowboy-hat-wearing Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Patrick has attended a rodeo, received a belt buckle from her beau as a 31st birthday present, and tweeted a photo of her new "cowgirl" ensemble, complete with jeans, boots, hat and plaid shirt.
Was the foaling all part of the new Danica cowboy credibility?
"I think more than anything it's about doing new things, being out and about, not being afraid where I go or what I do or who sees me,'' she said. "It's about having fun and trying things."
Helping pull her namesake into the world undoubtedly would have constituted a new experience, but that confounded Texas Motor Speedway traffic cost her a chance to earn some messy cowboy cred.
"I did get to see the placenta. I have a picture of that, too," she said.
Then she hit upon the money picture again. Patrick the driver chortling. Patrick the foal denied.
"Did you love that picture with him licking my boob?" she said, laughing. "Now … we are joined."