Pensioners on Parade

Stories about your favorite retired racehorses. For archived stories, click here.

Bubble Economy

"Literally, he just walked out and I was like ‘DONE! I am in love with him!’ ”

You might automatically believe that the very newly married Mary McGlothlin was telling the tale of the first time she saw her husband, former professional polo player Darin Martin. You would be wrong. Rather, the object of her total devotion for the past 15 years has been the quirky bay gelding who became one of the most recognizable names in American steeplechasing – Bubble Economy.

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Chanceland Trio

These three are the retired herd. They spend their days grazing and chilling and just generally owning the place, as far as they’re concerned.”

The “place” is Bob Manfuso and Katy Voss’ Chanceland Farm, and “these three” are pensioners Grand Slalom, 28, Baste, 23, and Artist’s Way, 22. As Chanceland’s above-quoted broodmare manager, A.J. Hesketh-Tutton has looked after the trio she calls “a happy crew” for several years.

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Royal Champagne

The tale of Royal Champagne and Mary Dubbink begins on a very familiar note. Young, horse-crazy girl is taken to the track by her doting granddad, igniting a love of Thoroughbred racing that deepens and endures with each passing year. 

“But I never rode,” Mary explained. “I remember thinking when I was very young, one day I’d love to own a Thoroughbred. I didn’t know what that meant or where I was going with that, but I just fell in love with the breed.”

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Doug Fout was playing beat the clock. The Middleburg, Va.-based trainer was in England on a shopping trip for an owner – nothing unusual for Fout, who has ventured to Europe, South America and New Zealand to procure steeplechase horses. But in this case, the deadline allowed him just 24 hours to jump on a plane and decide on a horse he couldn’t see or sit on ahead of time. That, for Fout, was beyond his normal method of operation.  

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The barter system. Most horsemen, at some point, have put it to use. And it came into play 15 years ago when transplanted Irishmen Robbie and Joe Walsh – no relation – shook hands over a foal who ran until age 11 and earned nearly a quarter-million dollars.

Jump jockeys by profession, Robbie was riding out and helping Joe, who was by then working for Annie Jones in Unionville, Pa. Joe had some stalls and paddocks at Jones’ farm and owned a few mares. In 2002, Joe sent Alejandra’s Love (by Lord Carlos) to the Foligno stallion Fleg, standing nearby at his friend Charlie Lyman Jr.’s Maui Meadow Farm in West Chester, Pa. 

An earner of $156,892, Fleg’s lone stakes win came in the race named for Lyman’s father, the General Charles B. Lyman Handicap at Philadelphia Park in 1995. Alejandra’s Love ran just twice, breaking her maiden in her first start and banking $6,780. On May 24, 2003, she foaled a gray colt Joe Walsh christened Azulyekit (As-you-like-it).

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The year was 1972. Decades before the advent of the internet, 13-year old Stephanie Sires diligently scoured every available publication covering Thoroughbred racing for information about her favorite racehorse. Given that she grew up riding Quarter Horses on a farm just south of Akron, Ohio, all knowledge obtained came through a great deal of effort. But such was her devotion to a leggy bay colt named Riva Ridge.

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Art Student

Smitten. In simplest terms, the word means to impress favorably; to emotionally affect with a strong or sudden feeling. And in classic stream-of-consciousness rhetoric, it’s a word forever linked to 24-year-old retired broodmare Art Student.

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Afternoon Deelites

Burt Bacharach. Universally recognizable, it’s a name that brings to mind timeless titles and lyrics penned by one of the most prolific and successful songwriters of the 20th century. Millions can readily answer that Bacharach wrote “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” to name a few.

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