A horse trainer who recovered from the coronavirus is back in the winner's circle and back to good health.
The Belmont Stakes runs this weekend on Long Island, but without fans, and frankly, without a whole lot of fanfare for the Triple Crown race.
But for those in horse racing, just getting back to work is a blessing.
In the eighth race at Laurel Park, Maryland on Saturday, the odds-on favorite, Introduced, rallied for a strong victory on the turf. It wasn't a huge-money race, or otherwise, all that remarkable an event. But for the victorious trainer, Jorge Duarte, saddling a winner meant the world.
"(I'm) just grateful to be here in the barn. Winning races is even more satisfying, and hopefully, we'll be here for a while more," Duarte said.
It's a new perspective after battling the coronavirus in March — a fight that landed him in the hospital for a week.
"(It was) pretty horrible. I was in isolation, of course. The doctors and the nurses would check on you, but nobody wants to be around you," Duarte said.
While Duarte has recovered, he's not yet at 100%. When asked how he feels now, Duarte said, "Not great, to be honest. Still get short of breath. I get tired quicker."
Duarte trains for Colts Neck Stable out of New Jersey and feels fortunate the owners allow him to work at his own pace.
"Luckily, I have a lot of support from the boss and have good guys behind me," Duarte said. "There are some things I've been skipping that normally I wouldn't, like saddling horses or, like, feeding in the afternoon, stuff like that. I've been trying to get back on my feet, but I also kind of have to listen to my body sometimes."
Duarte will continue to take it slowly, winning still driving the effort, but certainly not at all costs.
"You have to put everything in perspective. It wasn't easy, so I'm very appreciative that I'm here and still plugging along," Duarte said.