Blame it all on Fusaichi Pegasus. Eleven-year-old Carrie Schein was watching her first Kentucky Derby broadcast in May 2000 when the image of a striking mahogany bay colt in the paddock splashed across her TV screen. At that point, all she knew about racing was that she loved Thoroughbreds. Schein immediately fell in love and declared the horse her choice to win the race.
“He won, and I never looked back,” Schein said. “I decided I was going to learn everything I could about racing. My dream horse was always a bay mare who had actually been a racehorse, but that dream wouldn’t become a reality until a few years later.”
Growing up in Berryville, Va., Schein began taking riding lessons at age 7. Her earliest exposure to racing was through her maternal grandfather, Howard Owens, and his son Frank Owens, her mother’s twin brother. Howard owned a few horses who raced primarily at Charles Town. Frank was an avid fan and handicapper who took his niece on her first trip to a racetrack to watch the Preakness two weeks after Fusaichi Pegasus won the Derby.
“He taught me everything he knew about horse racing,” Schein said.
At a young age, Schein knew what to look for in the paddock and how to read a Racing Form. But he would always admonish her – usually on his way to the pari-mutuel windows – not to spend her money betting.
In 2004 Schein, then 15, was boarding her Morgan-cross at a farm near her home in Berryville. Her “riding buddy” was the mother of one of her school friends. Also boarded there at that time was a 6-year-old mare named Melind’s Adam, owned by Judy Mayes. By leading West Virginia sire My Boy Adam out of the Aye’s Turn mare Melinda’s Turn, she had last raced at Charles Town Feb. 1 for trainer Titus Hagy. All 27 of the mare’s starts came at the West Virginia track, where she had won three times.
“They had offered Melind for sale,” Schein said, “and my mom and the friend I was riding with bought her together in partnership, potentially to breed her. They bought her in May.”
Tragedy struck the family two months later when Frank Owens was killed.
“When he passed, it became much more urgent,” Schein said. “This horse was something he had become excited about. So that night, we decided she would be bred and we would name the foal for him.”
In early 2005, Melind’s Adam was sent to Northview Stallion Station in Maryland and bred to multiple graded stakes winner Domestic Dispute, then standing his first year at stud and a horse Schein and her uncle followed during his racing career.
On April 23, 2006, Melind’s Adam delivered a chestnut filly at Schein’s parents’ home. In another tribute to her late brother, Schein’s mother operated her Thoroughbred business as Lost Twin Farm. She named the new foal All About Frank, with plans to race her in his honor.
“She was so chill,” Schein said of the foal. “Just unflappable and so nice to be around.”
Misfortune struck again just shy of the filly’s second birthday when she passed away after a paddock accident.
“It was pretty rough,” Schein said.
Melind’s Adam paid a return visit to Domestic Dispute in 2008, producing a colt in 2009. In 2011, Schein’s mother transferred ownership of both horses to her daughter.
Just like the filly had been, he was also really lovely to be around. He was never registered; my parents had kind of lost interest. I was still young and didn’t really have a lot of money, but I did keep him and tried to start him on my own. I ended up selling him to an event trainer in Maryland. He was younger and had the better chance of having a good career. She resold him as a trail horse, and he found a very good home as a pleasure horse. And I just couldn’t part with my girl.”
She still hasn’t. Now a nurse living in Loganville, Ga., Schein took Melind’s Adam with her when she relocated five years ago. She was determined to give the mare the retirement she deserved.
“Once I got settled down here, I found this barn in Loganville and it was a really good fit, so I made the arrangements and got her trailered down. When I bought my house, it just so happened that it ended up being .9 miles from where she is. It’s so nice. . . I can see her whenever I want.”
Now 25, Melind’s Adam – called simply “Melind” – isn’t asked to do too much. . . “but she would, because she’s in incredible shape,” Schein said. Schein hopes she’ll have time for a bit of light riding now that her own children are getting older and more independent. She’d be even happier if her kids developed an interest in riding and could enjoy that time with her.
The mare is a favorite among fellow boarders at the farm where she’s regularly spoiled with soft peppermints, her favorite treat.
“She gets a massive bucket of them every Christmas,” Schein laughed.
She readily admits that her mare “wasn’t much of a racehorse” – she earned $34,121 from her 27 starts with three wins, two seconds and two thirds.
But more important to Schein is that connection to her late uncle, who dreamed for so many years of having a racehorse. It was something his niece hoped to share with him. Schein remembers clearly one of the last things Frank Owens told her. After watching the 2004 Wood Memorial from Aqueduct, he said to keep an eye on the winner, a gray colt named Tapit.
“That horse,” he told her, “is a really good one.”
That remains one of Schein’s favorite memories of a day at the races with Owens. He had recently taken out his owner’s license, a badge Schein treasures.
“I fell in love with Melind the second I met her,” Schein said. “She had two foals with me and was an incredible mother, but mostly she was my best friend. She has been there through every important moment in my life, both good and bad.”