by Jarrod Horak
Earlier this week, I ventured to Lexington, Kentucky with Candice Curtis and Stacy Edwards to visit with some of our favorite equine stars.
First stop was Lane’s End Farm. We spent some quality time with the likes of After Market, Candy Ride, City Zip, Curlin, Discreetly Mine, English Channel, The Factor, Lemon Drop Kid, Pleasantly Perfect, Quality Road, Smart Strike, and Union Rags.
Seeing these equine legends brought back some handicapping memories. I was in the early stages of my stint with Racing On The Net when Lemon Drop Kid captured the Belmont Stakes, and he was one of my first significant online play of the day winners.
I made my first trek to Santa Anita Park for the 2003 Breeders’ Cup and Pleasantly Perfect won the Classic that year.
Fast forward to 2012 and Union Rags was my Derby horse. He had a less than ideal trip that day but redeemed himself in the Belmont Stakes. He retired shortly after the Test of Champions and I relocated to Kentucky just in time to visit the regal looking son of Dixie Union. He was taking a nap when we first arrived but curiosity got the best of him and he came over to see what we were up to. I rubbed his nose a few times and the gentle giant went back to sleep in the blink of an eye.
Some delicious refreshments were offered including chili and quiche. Real men don’t eat quiche but I had some anyway before out next stop — Ashford Stud.
Coolmore America is an impressive operation with an imposing group of young stallions including Cape Blanco, Dunkirk, Hansen, Lookin At Lucky, Stay Thirsty, and Uncle Mo. It was also a pleasure to see veteran sires Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant’s Causeway, Tale of the Cat, and Thunder Gulch.
Candice got her picture taken with her early racing idol Thunder Gulch, and for Stacy it was all about Stay Thirsty.
Hansen stood out with his soft, light coat. He seemed a bit edgy at first but calmed down nicely once he got outside and allowed us to get up close and personal. Our picture perfect day was not over yet, because we were only a hop, skip, and a jump from Three Chimneys.
Stacy told me to wear my Big Brown hat since she knew we would be visiting the 2008 Derby winner, but before that I had to get a glimpse of my 2001 Derby horse, Point Given.
I was all over Point Given before, during, and after the 2001 Triple Crown trail, and I even traveled to Big Sandy to watch him romp in the Belmont Stakes. He seemed unaware that I was there but just as I was about to walk away he pranced over and allowed me to share a moment with him. To his right was young stallion Caleb’s Posse. Brilliant Speed was just down the road and Ice Box was in the middle of his meet and greet with the fans.
We journeyed outside and as we walked down the path, a horse handler looked at my hat and said “I know who you want to see.” Actually, Colonel John was my Derby horse that year, but I played along.
Big Brown is a magnificent looking bay son of Boundary, standing at 16.1 hands, and he seems to know that he is a Derby winner.
We proceeded to walk a bit further down the path and were greeted by Marketing and Communications Director Jen Roytz. She was very gracious and asked us if we would like to see any horses.
She showed us Exchange Rate, Red Giant, and War Chant, and walked us to the next viewing area to visit with I’ll Have Another’s proud papa Flower Alley, who seemed to set a world record for chowing down his food. Jen was very excited about showing off low profile sire Lewis Michael, and we were more than happy to the share our day with the handsome son of Rahy.
Before we left Three Chimneys, we had a lengthy conversation with a veteran bloodstock consultant and helped ourselves to some food offered during the open house. Chili was on the menu again, and although it was tasty, I have to give the cook-off award to Lane’s End.
We hopped in the car and headed to our final destination, Keeneland. It was the first day of the January sale but before hitting the pavilion, we toured the grounds, snapped some more photos, and reminisced about last year’s stakes winners through the eyes of the lawn jockeys.
As for the sale, Trip for A. J. (hip 241) went for $310k, and we left after Big Tiz (hip 299) brought down the gavel at a cool $600k.
This was our first of many planned Kentucky farm visits. 2013 is off to a wonderful start and that spring aroma in the not too distant future can only mean one thing – live racing at Keeneland is just around the corner!
If you would like to view more of our farm adventure pictures, please visit Stacy’s Kentucky Horse Racing Photos page.