Pensioners on Parade

Maggie Kimmitt's monthly column on regionally-bred and regionally-retired Thoroughbreds

2016MidAtlanticAuctionArt

Pensioners

McDynamo

Goodie, Frisky and Mickey D. One is a now-white Welsh Cob type “somewhere between 30 and 40 years old.” That’s Goodie. Frisky, the smallest one, is a sleek black Lear jet who regularly devastates fields on the local pony racing circuit. And the third, a tall bay, is a living legend.

Mickey D, you see, is McDynamo. And all three are irreplaceable family members at trainer Sanna Neilson’s 25-acre homestead in Cochranville, Pa.

“He likes everything the same,” groom and caretaker Karen Andress said of the three-time Eclipse Award-winning steeplechaser. “He likes his routine. In the mornings all I have to do is whistle and he’ll come running around. I don’t have to go out here and holler and carry on.”

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Fickle Fate

Her name is Fickle Fate. It suits her, especially considering that the pensioned broodmare leads the life she does today because trainer Ann Merryman got her wires crossed 22 years ago when she went to the Keeneland September sale in 1995 to purchase a broodmare prospect for a client. 

“I used my own discretion, but it turned out he didn’t want her,” she said. 

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Market Booster

Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable has long been a formidable force at the sales. Headline-making purchases over the years have often topped seven figures. La Affirmed, second dam of sire Sky Mesa, went to $1.9 million in 1996. Her colt by Storm Cat sold for $5.5 million at the 2001 Keeneland September sale. More recently Unrivaled Belle, now dam of leading California filly Unique Bella, was bought by Brushwood for $2.8 million in 2011, and resold for $3.8 million in 2016.

 

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General Poppy

It was like ordering a drink and having the bartender ask to see your ID. General Poppy cruised around his field with such energy and animation that owner Lee McGettigan had to produce the hard proof that he is as old as she claimed – so she lifted his lip and showed his teeth.

 

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Paulrus

Herb Hogg was looking for a horse. Thirteen years ago, the lifelong foxhunter had taken a bit of a beating from a “rogue-y” mount who’d left him with a punctured lung and broken ribs. A CPA by profession, Hogg got a suggestion from a client – Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot – who mentioned she had a prospect on her Pennsylvania farm.

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Boy Done Good

To The Jockey Club, he’s officially Boy Done Good. To the United States Eventing Association, he’s known as Salute The Truth. To Steuart and Erin Pittman, he’s Willy. And no matter what he’s called, he’s been the cornerstone of the Pittmans’ Dodon Farm in Davidsonville, Md., since he was foaled on the property next door in 1995.

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Learned Jake

When trainer Annette Eubanks told her son Dan that she was bringing a former trainee home to her farm for retirement, he wasn’t surprised. She’d done it before. But when she mentioned the horse’s name, he couldn’t imagine what would possess his mother to even entertain the idea.

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Victoreen

Her name is Victoreen. On paper, she’s completely unassuming. She was foaled in Oklahoma in 1989, sired by Victory Stride, a Maryland-bred son of Northern Dancer who was at that time being bred to Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse mares.

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Stand Alone & Havin’ a Moan

Mention the name Franklin G. “Goree” Smith Sr., and most in the racing industry automatically think of Elloree Training Center. Smith’s reputation was built on the 400-acre facility midway between Columbia and Charleston, S.C.

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Shakin All Over

shakinallover

In 1989, Tim Woolley headed to Delaware Park’s paddock sale with a modest bankroll and an eye toward launching his training career. Woolley had by then been freelancing as an exercise rider at Fair Hill Training Center and Delaware Park for two years, and one of his regular mounts was a 3-year-old filly named Shakin All Over in the barn of Patti Miller. When word came that the Florida-bred daughter of It’s Freezing and the Navajo mare Andthebeatgoeson had been consigned, Woolley thought the small but gritty filly would be a great first project.

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La Ville Rouge

It’s an oft-repeated scene. A caring, responsible breeder/owner walks into a field and points out a cherished, pensioned broodmare. She tells of how much the horse has meant to her family and her entire operation. These are the good stories; the happy endings.

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Push and Pull

A small procession of cars filed up the manicured lane at Renee Townsley’s Greystone Farm in Monkton, Md. Jack and Sheila Fisher emerged from their car. Sheila’s parents, Rufus and Sheila Williams, parked theirs a few feet away. Loaded with carrots, the group walked into Townsley’s so-clean-you-could-eat-off-the-floors barn.

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Irish Majesty

War horse. It’s a hot button term in the racing industry, meant to denote a Thoroughbred with a lengthy–and most often blue-collar?–history on the track. Statistics can frequently list starts in triple digits, and bankrolls of a few hundred thousand dollars are not uncommon.

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Chilito

“I could have a child give him a bath or groom him. He stands still, doesn’t move. This horse loves loves, loves the attention.”

Mary McGlothlin is talking about Chilito–but no one who knew the horse during his racing career would have dreamed such a statement could or would ever apply to him. In fact, the word “savage” had been used to describe the horse when McGlothlin first encountered him in 2001. . . and it wasn’t an exaggeration.

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Riddle

It was definitely not a case of love at first sight. When Meredith Somerset met Riddle, she was much more taken with the other two horses who had arrived on the van with him.

Standing less than 16 hands without a white hair on him, Riddle was much less eye-catching than his travelling mates.

“He was just a plain, little brown horse and he didn’t do much for me,” she said.

These days, Somerset can’t stop talking about the 15-year-old gelding who, she says, has become the standard by which all other horses are measured.

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Fleet Valid

 

Ten years ago, trainer Mike Trombetta was riding a wave. He and owner Joseph Balsamo were heading to Churchill Downs with Sweetnorthernsaint, one of the early favorites for Kentucky Derby 132.

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Lord Don

When MidAtlantic Horse Rescue moved into its permanent headquarters at Greener Pastures Farm in 2013, co-founders Bev Strauss and Ginny Suarez became stewards of not only the property, but three elderly Thoroughbreds.

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Xchanger

Trainer Mark Shuman and his wife, Anissa Butler, pulled their trailer up to Shuman’s barn at Fair Hill Training Center one day last September and instantly wondered whether they’d just made a massive mistake. As soon as Shuman shifted into park, the screaming and snorting began. The trailer shook. And every time they tried to get a shank on the monstrous gray inside, he batted and struck at them.

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Effervescent

John Hughes can speak volumes about Effervescent. After nearly 40 years with trainer Jonathan Sheppard, Hughes knows the daughter of Citidancer–and her whole family. “We foaled her here. She was born, raised and broken here,” Hughes said.

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Valay Pass

“He’s never done anything famous. We didn’t show him. But he’s a solid citizen and a good-huntin’ horse.”

At first asking, Jimmy Paxson’s assessment of Valay Pass seems rather perfunctory. But get him talking about Duncan Patterson’s 21-year-old son of Carnivalay and the Assault Landing mare Winged Passage, and the yarns begin to spin.

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Trueamericanspirit

“Smile pretty and walk nice!”

Kathi Guenther led an animated Trueamericanspirit out of the barn at Tom Swales’ Tee-N-Jay Farm in Monroe Township, N.J., on a Sunday morning in September. The 15-year-old gray gelding has posed for a few photos in his day. Swales’ homebred son of Is It True and the Silver Ghost mare Ms. Misery is a multiple stakes winner of more than $500,000.

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Evil Storm

As their kids are growing up, it’s not unusual for most parents to face the dilemma of unexpected pets. Puppies, kittens, hamsters, reptiles, etc. often become unplanned members of the family once Mom and Dad have been worn down by one too many choruses of “Can we keep him. . . pleeeeeeeze?”

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Alexis's David

Alexis’s David never won a stakes race. He never set a track record, never made headlines, wasn’t sold for a hefty sum at auction. After his seven seasons on the track, he didn’t segue into a flashy second career in the show ring or hunt field.

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My Lord

“MY LORD!”

It’s an oft-heard reaction when visitors walk into Peter and Amy Fenwick’s home and see the Foxhall Farm Cup towering like a behemoth in the center of their formal dining table.

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Bug River

On the last Friday in April, Regina Welsh took an impromptu stroll down Memory Lane. Walking the Maryland Hunt Cup course with rider Diana Gillam, Welsh was transported back to the same spot 11 years earlier–the day before she saddled Bug River to the first of two Hunt Cup wins.

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Scrappy T

It was the gasp heard round the world. And 10 years later, the team behind 2005 Preakness Stakes runner-up Scrappy T still runs the gamut of emotions whenever the subject is broached.

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Near the Limit

His pedigree page is heavy with names from another era. His sire, Garthorn, won five consecutive graded stakes in the mid-1980s–the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap among them–for trainer Bobby Frankel and owners Jerry and Ann Moss.

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Learning

Bonita Farm has always been a family affair. The sprawling Harford County training center is the homestead of the Boniface family, three generations of which are deeply rooted in the Maryland Thoroughbred industry.

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Fast Talking

“You can’t do that with a Thoroughbred.”

Samantha Graham heard that a lot when she adopted Fast Talking in 2012.

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Here's the Plan

Serelee Hefler was excited to talk about Here’s the Plan. “This has been my Bucket List item for the past year,” she said, leading the strapping son of Smarten and the Horatius mare Video Sister out of his paddock at Worthmore Farm in Chestertown, Md.

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Achieve

His name is Achieve. One definition of the word states that it means “to reach or attain (a desired objective, level, or result) by effort, skill, or courage.” And Jodie Pointer thinks the handle fits her 22-year-old now white son of Waquoit. 

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Areutrue & Bling Star Dreams

A small Delaware farm literally minutes from the Atlantic Ocean isn’t exactly the place you expect to find foxhunters, much less off-the-track Thoroughbreds. Standardbreds and Chincoteague ponies, maybe–after all, when in Rome. . . but thanks to CANTER Mid Atlantic, former runners Areutrue and Bling Star Dreams are thriving with owners Jim and Pat Griffin at 20-acre Stillwater Farm in Lewes.

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Grady

Grady. It’s a simple name: masculine, rugged, strong. It sounds like a good name for a boxer. . . a ranch hand. . . a longshoreman. Or a racehorse who made 104 starts and ran until he was 11 years old.

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The Looper

Tom Voss sat on a chair outside the tack room at his Saratoga barn. A few feet away, 2010 champion steeplechaser Slip Away stood getting his feet done, rider Paddy Young holding the shank and scratching the big gray's nose. Voss has one of those shedrows in which everyone is usually someone. Not too many unfamiliar names taped to the stall doors.

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Double Bill

Talk about long-term relationships. When North Carolina residents Frank and Ann Loving bought Double Bill, Ronald Reagan was president, a first-class postage stamp cost 20 cents, Amadeus won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and Spend a Buck won the Kentucky Derby.

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Jade’s Revenge and Monarch Lane

In reality, they are a study in contrasts. Jade’s Revenge is a tall, patrician bay, expressive, approachable. He’s the stuff of horse-crazy young girls’ dreams. Monarch Lane, a welterweight chestnut, doesn’t care why you’ve come and has no interest in exchanging pleasantries. No warm fuzziness there; he’s all business. Extend your hand at your own peril.

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Unexplainable

Between 1999 and 2001, Unexplainable was practically a household name at Parx Racing. Not only was the Adena Springs-bred son of El Prado (Ire)—Brilliant Prospect, by Marine Brass, popular with the betting public, he was a hot commodity in the claim box as well. Every one of his 10 lifetime wins came at the Bensalem, Pa., oval, then still called Philadelphia Park.

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Dancininthestreet

Wells Hanna rides Dirty. He’s well known for it, in fact; has been doing it for years. And normally when you see the pair, Hanna is clad in green velvet Colonial garb, perfectly balancing a 5-foot wooden spear as his horse Dirty Bird speeds toward a 2-inch plastic ring suspended from an L-shaped pole.

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Celtic Choice

Celtic Choice is a horse with a great deal of family behind him. Not only is he half-brother to a Canadian Horse of the Year, but the 28-year-old Dumbarton Farm homebred has remained with the same connections throughout his long life.

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Skullbuster

His name makes him sound as though he should be exploding out of a chute with a cowboy strapped aboard for an eight-second ride. It conjures images of rawhide, spurs and Skoal rings–not Palm Beach, Saratoga and the Jersey Shore. But that’s exactly where Skullbuster’s story went.

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Skullbuster (2)

His name makes him sound as though he should be exploding out of a chute with a cowboy strapped aboard for an eight-second ride. It conjures images of rawhide, spurs and Skoal rings–not Palm Beach, Saratoga and the Jersey Shore. But that’s exactly where Skullbuster’s story went.

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Too Fast to Catch

JoAnn Hayden calls the mare the most amazing mother “ever.” Anita Motion uses the phrase, “the gift that keeps on giving.” By any description, one thing is certain: Too Fast to Catch is a gold mine of a broodmare.

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Snapfinger

Michelle Sperow Sharp can fill an afternoon talking about Snapfinger. That’s the kind of thing that tends to happen when you’ve owned a horse for 28 years. He’s become such a part of the fabric of her life–of her whole family’s life, really–that memories and anecdotes revolve around him.

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Runnin Robbo

In his previous life he was known as Runnin Robbo. Bred in Kentucky by Tom Anuario, he is by turf warrior Fly Till Dawn out of the Pappa Steve mare Precious Pam. A quick scan of his lifetime past performances reveals there was very little actual “runnin” going on.

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Farah's Moment

These days, the surname Napravnik is pretty much synonymous with Thoroughbred racing. But well before her younger sister Rosie was making constant headlines as a top jockey, Jasmine “Jazz” Napravnik was laying the groundwork for a career as a successful breeder, owner and trainer. And it’s thanks to 25-year-old Farah’s Moment that she has become all three.

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Foufa

In more than 40 years at Glade Valley Farms in Frederick, Md., Mike Figgins has seen more horses than he can remember, and even more than he would ever care to count. But for the past 24 years, Figgins has watched the offspring of Foufa, now 30, leave an indelible mark on everyone associated with Glade Valley, for many years one of the premier breeding farms in the region.

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Bovari

Sally Barnes needed a hand. Attending a Steeplechase 101 clinic in Maryland in 2011, she and husband Casey were given an overgirth to use on her horse. At a loss for how to use it, they asked trainer Joe Davies for a quick how-to. Davies happily obliged, and while saddling the gelding he noticed the brass nameplate on the horse’s halter: 

BOVARI
Nijinsky II–L’Attrayante (FR).
“Is that who this is?” he asked the couple. Yes, he was told. “No way–this used to be my horse.”

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Karin's Clyde

Karin De Francis couldn’t stop repeating herself. Couldn’t stop the hugs, the squeezes, the carrots, the kisses on the dark bay’s nose. And she wasn’t ashamed of the fact that she couldn’t help it. “I love you Clyde. . . I love you!”

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Hansel

In the German fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” published by the Brothers Grimm in the early 19th century, the story comes to a happy ending when Hansel and his sister return safely to their father at their childhood home. At Lazy Lane Farm in Upperville, Va., in February 2006, a similar scene played out when Hansel’s equine namesake journeyed back from Japan.

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Wonders Delight

Susie Chatfield-Taylor climbed the black four-board fence with a bag of carrots in her grip. “Come on, girls,” she trilled. “Come onnnnnnnn. . .” A football field away, six mares grazed in deep new grass as a soft spring rain began. Wonders Delight, the only gray among the group, raised her head momentarily, considered the offer, and went back to munching. “They might not be too interested,” Chatfield-Taylor grinned. “They really have everything they need out here.”

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Hudson Bay

It was a unique concept: wedding guest as wedding gift. But when Arch Kingsley and Wendy Fletcher married in the paddock at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., in 2000, Hudson Bay was both.

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Two Cheers

Cain had Abel. Richard the Lionheart had King John. Groucho had Harpo. And on a small farm near Coatesville, Pa., Cheerfy has Cheer Cheer.

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Elberton

Amy Hopkins Daney loves the opportunity to talk about Elberton. His story, after all, is her story. It’s about the blood, the land, the history and the old-school work ethic that produced not only Elberton’s family, but her own.

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Magic Roland

Stacie Eggleton has been there, done that. In a career now spanning four decades, the Monkton, Md., native has walked hots, traveled the country working for Hall of Fame trainers and breezed Breeders’ Cup champions. Her resume includes the names Zito and Frankel, and she can share first-hand knowledge of morning mounts Theatrical (Ire), Broad Brush and Concern.

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Torbay

Summer 1995. Microsoft released a new version of Windows, nobody knew what a DVD was, the NASDAQ closed above 1,000 for the first time, Jerry Garcia passed away. Cigar’s winning streak stood at nine.
And Betsy Barr turned the search for a project into a family treasure.

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Due

“It’s like skiing down a mountain backwards on the rocks. Most of the time it’s the agony of defeat. But every once in a blue moon, you get the thrill of victory.”

Bob Haynes still remembers his response to reporters minutes after Due’s victory in the 2006 Maryland Million Classic. Truth be told, there’s next to nothing Haynes doesn’t remember about Due’s career–from the day he claimed the gray gelding for $25,000 in October 2004 to the Maryland-bred’s final start in the Jennings Handicap of 2007. 

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Tarsky

Jack Fisher was on a busman’s holiday the first time he saw Tarsky (Fr). Well, sort of. It was actually his honeymoon in France in 1992, when the Monkton, Md.-based trainer (and former jump jockey) seized the opportunity to ride in an amateur race at Auteil for leading French conditioner Jack-Hubert Barbe. 

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Reraise

If only Reraise could talk. 

From humble beginnings, he went through the Keeneland sales ring twice: an RNA as a weanling at $4,700, and then selling as a yearling for a bargain-basement price of $8,000. He took his connections to dizzying heights, inking his then 27-year-old trainer Craig Dollase’s name in the record books as the youngest conditioner of a Breeders’ Cup winner. He earned just shy of $1 million, finishing second only once in his nine-race, eight-win career.

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Where's Bob

Where’s Bob has an air about him. Even before owner Dana Weaver begins to fill in the blanks about her 29-year-old gelding’s history, it’s easy to get a sense that this horse’s story would be a book not easily put down. Still dignified and elegant, it’s easy to conjure a vision of Bob’s human alter ego. He’s the octogenarian in vintage Brooks Brothers sipping 1968 Glendronach out of a Waterford rocks glass while chatting about his relatives’ sailing excursion with those lovely people on the Mayflower.

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Cayman Queen

Her name is Cayman Queen. Her chestnut coat gleams like a newly minted penny. Her legs are tight and cool without as much as a blemish. Her eyes are bright, full of wisdom and expression. And if not for the slight dip in her back, you’d never guess she’s 31 years old.

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Emory

One of the most recognizable horses at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland never won a race. In four career starts-two each at Laurel Park and Penn National-he defeated a grand total of four horses. His career earnings reflect a balance of “$0.” But to Amy Jackson, co-owner of Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center, stable pony Emory is priceless.

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Flat Top

For nearly a decade in this space, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred has featured an update on a retired Thoroughbred. The horses have ranged in age, accomplishments and notoriety, but each subject has shared a common thread–all have been beloved by their connections. We’ve showcased former claimers who now spend their days packing kids around rings at horse shows; pensioned broodmares who ease through their golden years babysitting youngsters; and–as we do this month–even a few Eclipse Award winners.

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Shiraz

This weekend is Rolex in Kentucky, the country's premier 3-Day Event. May's issue of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred features a delightful story on the second career of Bold and Burley, now known as Shiraz--who competed there in previous years.

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