My Racehorse’s Lexington Summer Series

My Racehorse recently hosted a wonderful day of farm visits to see multiple horses affiliated with them, as well as a few standouts that are not. Departing from Keeneland Racecourse on a Gold Shield bus, the first stop was WinStar Farm, where Miss Macy Sue noisily greeted the group (she was typically turned out at that time but kept in a little longer to be shown). Mark Taylor hosted the visit at WinStar, and shared insights gleaned from his years at the farm. He pointed out the best attributes of Miss Macy Sue, a stellar-looking mare for any age, but especially at age 20. Taylor said she is a perfect example of what a Thoroughbred should be, and further noted that there are mares who will dominate the stallions they are bred to every time, mares that will dominate half the time, and some who always have the influence of stallions show in the foals they produce. He said Miss Macy Sue was one who dominated every time, and that she has two stallion sons to her credit in Liam’s Map and Not This Time is another feather in her cap. He also said her owners know she did enough for them with the foals she produced, so she has been retired from breeding. Taylor said as good as she looks, it could have been tempting for some owners to breed her still.

Miss Macy Sue

Then Wicked Lick and her 4 1/2 month old colt by Authentic came out to meet the group. Mark Taylor went through conformation points of note the colt possesses. After that, it was on to meet 2019 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress and her gray pasture buddy Noted and Quoted.

Serengeti Empress

Leaving the mare and foal division of the farm, we went to see stallions Knicks Go and Not This Time, with Mark Taylor again providing insight into their conformation. He had a wealth of knowledge that I found interesting, more so for it being geared to industry professionals with existing familiarity with horse racing. He also mentioned how Taylor Made was considered to be on the outskirts of top farms with good soil, but with their nutrition program that did not hold as much relevance as it could have, and the stakes winners raised on the property attest to that. I enjoyed that he conducted that part of the day’s events for how much I learned, and it seemed to be a continuation of what I gleaned from classes that were specifically encompassing the equine part of the University of Kentucky’s Equine Science and Management Degree.

After WinStar, it was on to Spendthrift to see another Horse of the Year, Authentic, and the primary reason I booked this tour – to meet Monomoy Girl at last! As I avidly followed her career since shortly before she won Keeneland’s Ashland Stakes en route to Kentucky Oaks victory and jumped at the chance to buy microshares in her last year of racing in 2021, I was quite excited for the opportunity. Seeing her featured a bonus visit with Beholder, freshly inducted into the Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility. She was stabled directly across from Monomoy Girl, so our group got to feed both mares carrots and Got Stormy as well, stabled further down the barn.

Feeding Monomoy Girl the carrot was a wonderful moment of communion with a mare I’ve admired for years. Though it was a simple moment, it was giving her something she loved and finding connection and joy in that. And what a beautiful thing to experience when first meeting a horse who means so much. I am grateful to My Racehorse and Spendthrift for providing that opportunity. Not long from now, I will be moving out of Kentucky and away from these horses I’ve had such pleasure in being around over the years. It was an unexpected change, so I am even more glad to have met Monomoy Girl before I go. As I will be in a state without a racing industry once more, I know I will look back on that memory and others made over the years fondly. Yet I hope one day to be back in a racing industry, once I’ve had a bit of a reset, particularly as I will soon tackle the Racing Officials Accreditation Program and would like to utilize that training eventually.

Monomoy Girl

But that is in the future, and this day was about enjoying the visits with all the horses we got to see. The visit wrapped up with future offerings for My Racehorse, and some who are sold out and on layup. There was also a polydactyl cat in their training barn; the first time I’ve ever seen one outside of photos.

Summer at Gainesway

It was an idyllic day to visit Gainesway, and see most of their six active stallions. All was quiet and peaceful, as the stallions begin to settle into the lull between breeding seasons. I noted the fairly new stone placed by the fountain to honor Empire Maker, one of my favorite racehorses.

Raging Bull was brought out for the tour group, followed by Tapit.

After seeing those stallions outside, the guide took us through the breeding shed and the barns to see a few other stallions. I was glad to see Afleet Alex again, who was pensioned from breeding this year and is now living the easy life. He will stay at Gainesway for the rest of his days. While he was not the most commercial stallion his whole life, I am still glad he stayed in Kentucky and at one farm. The guide talked about what a good-natured horse he is; that and the way he snatched victory from what seemed like near-certain defeat in the Preakness have always made him stand out to me.

The visit wrapped up at the circular mare and foal barn, which had once been a dairy barn, and where I had never gone before. The guide hoped to show us mares and foals up close but they were all at the far end of the pasture, the lure of the grass there apparently too strong!

It was an enjoyable visit.

Hawthorne Racecourse: A Portrait

On a recent visit to Chicago with my nephew, I took the opportunity to visit Hawthorne for the first time. Tentative plans to visit Chicago with him, and lovely Arlington, did not pan out so if we wanted to visit a racecourse in that area, Hawthorne it was.

While it would never be considered on a par with Arlington’s charm (a track I only visited once, but that was enough to make it one I both wanted to introduce other people to and one I will miss), the visit to Hawthorne was a nice lowkey end to a vacation that had been packed with activity each other day, and I still found a somewhat rustic charm to the track. While I liked the outdoor setup trackside, I didn’t enjoy the small overly crowded indoor area, and it was unusual that there didn’t seem to be public access to see the horses in the paddock. I did inquire about that and was told how to get there, but there was a sign posted where I had been told to go that said it was for horsemen only. I have read since my visit that construction on Hawthorne’s casino was halted months before October 2021, and is expected to resume at the end of this year. That may explain why public access to the paddock was off-limits, as well as why the grandstand which was behind the path to the paddock had no spectators in it. In addition, there was not an admission charge though I had read there would be one, and that too may have been because grandstand seating was not an option.

The day of our visit coincided with Belmont Stakes day. I had not thought of that when I planned the trip in March (it’s been a stressful year, and sometimes details like that get lost), but I had chosen that date because Hawthorne would hold the Work All Week Stakes that day. While it was not a graded race, it was a chance to see one of their bigger races.

I did enjoy the trackside atmosphere, as previously mentioned. While it was a lowkey setting, the picnic tables and benches seemed to intimate a family day out, which is what this was for my nephew and myself and I enjoyed having a table to spread out on. There was also a tent nearby with TVs inside, with several set to Belmont Park’s simulcast signal. I was glad to have a place to watch the Belmont Stakes when the time came outside of the crowded indoor area and also have more tables and chairs. It was never too crowded outdoors to have access to a table to ourselves, either in the tent or alongside the track rail.

My nephew picked a winner early on, who later had an article written about him since he was his sire’s first winner. While we didn’t actually bet, my nephew was quite happy to pick a winner. For myself, I enjoyed a chance to be back at the races for the first time since Keeneland concluded its spring meet, particularly as I was having some issues that made it difficult to attend as much as I would have liked, but since that was not an option I could accept it and was just glad to watch the live feed of the races from home. Speaking of Keeneland, during the few times I do attend a track without a video screen like that central Kentucky plant has, it does first seem unusual, outside of the norm. And without paddock access, that may have been beneficial, but after a little while I realized what I did enjoy about Hawthorne was it seemed to let one more purely take in the horses and the experience, without analysts interjecting their commentary into the day. And I do love to connect with the horses more, through observation, if not actual contact.

After watching the Belmont where Rich Strike didn’t manage an effort on par with his Derby win (although according to trainer Eric Reed, he apparently did attempt a similar run by trying to get to the rail – where of course he launched his Derby winning bid from – more than he tried to run down actual rivals) and Mo Donegal won, we watched a few more races at Hawthorne and then called it a day.

While Rich Strike likely proved his Derby win was a stroke of luck, it is still inspiring that he won for a small stable, and that the racing world was introduced to the close, touching bond between him and his groom Jerry Dixon Jr.

While Hawthorne is not a track of the caliber of Keeneland or Arlington, I still enjoyed my day there. It’s not a track I would feel drawn to again and again like those named above, but it is one I am glad I saw once to form my own impressions of it. One other aspect that stood out to me, as a racing history enthusiast, were several photos from the 1940s and 1950s mounted on a wall. One showed a race winner receiving a tall trophy filled with carrots, dipping his nose in enthusiastically, and several people in the winner’s circle with him munching on a few of the carrots with large smiles on their faces. It was a contrast to typical winner’s circle photos, standing out for the levity and the immediate reward to the winning horse.

Ashford’s Storied History

A recent visit to Ashford, famously home to American Pharoah and Justify, began in their visitors’ center, allowing a significant glimpse into the farm that began to house Thoroughbreds as the grand vision of Dr. Bill Lockridge, once he converted it from a cattle farm. Even the cattle that lived there, however, had been a top-notch enterprise. According to an article by Maryjean Wall, the cattle raised there were frequent winners at cattle shows.

It was interesting to read her article and realize how much meticulous planning had gone into the farm when Lockridge started the process of renovating it to suit his specifications. All was done to convey an impression of elite status, just like the horses he wanted to inhabit the barn that now is home to American Pharoah and Justify. In fact, Lockridge said if he never found six horses of the caliber he desired to fill that barn, then there would be empty stalls. American Pharoah, of course, has already proven himself as a sire and it remains to be seen how Justify will fare, but if he is half the sire his own sire was he too should have met the standards Lockridge sought.

What I also did not know previously was that the farm is called Ashford because of the castle in Ireland where Lockridge stayed while seeking to acquire the stallion Storm Bird to be the first inhabitant of the barn in Kentucky that was meant to be evocative of a castle. It is very possible if Storm Bird had only sired Storm Cat, his contribution to the Thoroughbred would be assured. A link to one of the future denizens of Ashford was his daughter Line of Thunder through her son Thunder Gulch.

While the visitors’ center contained an impressive array of articles, photos and racing trophies displaying the history linked to Ashford, the equine cemetery showcased its history with equal reverence. Pausing at Thunder Gulch’s gravesite, the tour guide recounted how he was the stallion that was pastured next to new arrivals since he had a calming effect on them while they adjust to life off of the racetrack, and indeed I remember hearing he served that role with American Pharoah too. It is another link between past and present, as well as an anecdote I enjoyed for what it revealed of Thunder Gulch’s nature. I like to know what they were like, beyond the statistics of race records and sire records for as important as those are, they do not tell the whole story of all that a horse was or is.

There is a beautifully landscaped area in front of a stone wall a short distance from the equine cemetery, which provides another link between past and present. The current stallions are posed there for marketing purposes and conformation photos.

I was glad to hear Cigar receive recognition too as we stood at the equine cemetery, and that his name is on a stall at Ashford still as a former resident. While his time there was short-lived due to his infertility, they still recognize that he was one of the greats of the sport who spent some time there, even though the hoped-for stud career did not pan out. That is definitely the strongest impression a visit to Ashford provides, the reverence for the horse which began with styling a barn worthy of equine royalty and continues when they relate how sweet American Pharoah is with the mares and how Maximum Security leaned towards his groom for a show of affection.

When American Pharoah was brought out into the sun, the tour guide said he is ten now. I had lost track of that; visits here to anyone but breeders had understandably been off limits for a lot of the time since the pandemic began. I then thought, at age ten he hopefully has many years left. That is not a thought I normally have about horses as I prefer not to dwell on that but to enjoy the time in their company. But I knew why that thought came to me – it was wonderful to see American Pharoah again, and that mattered most of all, but I also had a fleeting thought about lost time, a bit wistfully. That is certainly what the pandemic and some non-pandemic related health challenges I have faced represented, but the thought didn’t linger. And I knew that was because I was grateful to be around these horses once more. Paul Simon sang life is what you make of it and I believe that and in that moment what I made of it was being there mattered more than any times not being there, for we go forward as best we can. Even if life throws obstacles and curve balls our way, it also gives us lovely May days of flowers and sunshine and the serenity a farm like Ashford bestows.


Wall, Maryjean. “Texan Builds A Castle Fit For a Horse.” Lexington Herald and Leader, November 14, 1981.

Running Down A Dream

This year’s Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby seemed indicative of reaching for dreams, and how sweet it can be when they are realized. In the case of the Kentucky Oaks, it was seeing D. Wayne Lukas add another Oaks victory to his tally at the age of 86, and age doesn’t have to be an obstacle to success. Certainly in his case, as a racing icon, that should never be doubt but it was great to see him reach that pinnacle again. At the post-race press conference, he talked about realizing there was not a playbook for horse trainers to learn the trade, and he made a commitment to teach others along the way, many of whom have gone on to become top-notch trainers in their own right. The owners of Secret Oath, his latest Oaks winner, mentioned that as a service to racing. Lukas also spoke about the rapport he has with those he mentored to this day, and how horse racing can create a lasting bond. He also said he wanted the victory for the owners more than himself, since he’s already had that experience. While horse racing gets a lot of bad press and isn’t perfect, how it can unite and uplift people on the good days is worth noting.

Moving on to the Derby, it turned out Lukas had an impact on its outcome by withdrawing Ethereal Road the day before it ran, citing him not seeming quite as good as he had in his training earlier in the week and wanting to save him for the Preakness if that suited him, instead of use him hard in the Derby. That moved Rich Strike into the race, with less than an hour before another horse could draw in if one scratched. In fact, Rich Strike’s trainer Eric Reed later related that he had already been notified no horses scratched and he wasn’t in the race, since it was so close to the scratch time allowing another horse to draw in. But shortly after that, his exercise rider told him they did get in and he told her she had bad information, because they had removed the security guard from his barn. Then he got a call from steward Barbara Borden who asked him if he wanted to draw in from the also-eligible list, and he had to catch his breath to say yes.

I saw Rich Strike Tuesday of Derby week, during the designated training time for Derby and Oaks contenders. I didn’t realize until later he was also-eligible, and I didn’t know anything about his race record, but I did walk away impressed by his physical appearance.

Rich Strike training at Churchill Downs May 2

It was just the beginning of one of the Kentucky Derby’s most improbable sequence of events and results. Summer is Tomorrow took the lead initially, setting fast fractions, and Crown Pride and Messier had a compelling duel among themselves before they fell back. It had been mentioned ahead of this Derby it seemed like an evenly matched field, or at least there were no superstar standouts but a lot of horses that had a chance to make a mark on the race. That appeared to hold true when in deep stretch it looked like a handful of horses began mounting challenges, although two touted as top contenders – Epicenter and Zandon – began a duel that appeared it would go right to the wire. Their battle for the lead was such a source of focus for most watching that few noticed the chestnut colt surge forward on the rail until he grabbed victory nearly at the last possible moment. It was Rich Strike, the horse who nearly didn’t get to run the race, under a masterful ride by Sonny Leon. He and the colt even had to go around a tiring Messier to seek the victory.

While I was watching the gate crew load Rich Strike, I was thinking how lucky they kept training him like he’d start that day. While his race record did not suggest Derby success was in the cards, the very improbability makes it more fantastic. The look on jockey Sonny Leon’s face after the race of amazement mingled with perhaps a touch of disbelief was the visual echo of the incredulity in Tom Durkin’s voice when he called Mine That Bird’s rail-skimming 2009 Derby win “an impossible result.” Yet the look on Leon’s face was not indicative of not having faith in the colt he rode; in the post-race press conference it was clear all the connections believed he belonged in the Derby, even if they weren’t sure being the victor was how it would play out for him. But Leon was riding his first Derby ever – easy to see how that feeling would sweep over him after the win!

Trainer Eric Reed recounted thinking he knew they had a good horse, maybe a Derby horse, and then he and the owner worked backwards from the first Saturday in May to pick spots to hopefully get to the Derby. He quoted bass fisherman Mike Iaconelli, who said, “Never give up.” Things like this can be inspiring to people even outside the circle of those connected to the horse, and that quote from Iaconelli and how it all played out spoke volumes to me, as I’ve been facing physical challenges from an accident that have kept me from work and been tough to persevere through, and this result is such a feel-good story for the connections and for what it says to me to keep going through obstacles and when odds can be stacked against you.

As Reed relayed how he found out Rich Strike drew in, it became more evident why the “don’t give up” quote resonated so deeply. “We knew what we had. I’m not telling you by any means we’d have the Derby winner but if we didn’t think we were going to be in the Derby we wouldn’t have been prepping for this all year. We know we had a horse that was going to be capable of running good. So anybody that’s in this business – lightning can strike.

“I had a guy that was assigned to us and he would give me a lot of information every day, each time a horse would withdraw, and one time we were twenty-fourth and we got up to twenty-second. And then the Lexington Stakes came and we were back to twenty-fourth. We came here on a prayer and I told my dad and I told Rick the worst thing that could happen to us is they call a day or two before the Derby and say, ‘You’re going to get in,’ and not be prepared. We trained against all odds, nobody thought we could get in, we got a defection, we got another one. The morning of the entries at 8:45 I was notified there were no scratches. We were not going to get in. The security guard was told to leave the barn. I texted my dad it didn’t happen, texted some friends, ‘We didn’t get in. Sorry guys.’ I went in to my crew because I knew they were going to be really let down and I said, ‘Guys, we didn’t make it but we were number 21.’ And I said, ‘We’ve got to get ready for the Peter Pan next week. If we run well, we’ll go to the Belmont and show them we belong.’ And I was trying to keep their spirits up. It didn’t matter how I felt. I had to keep my crew going, and they were really sad.

And then about five minutes to 9, my pony girl Fifi calls me on the phone and she goes, ‘Don’t do anything with your horse. Don’t move him.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She calmed down and said, ‘No, you’re getting in.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not. Somebody gave you bad information.’ And she goes, ‘I’m telling you, I just got notification Wayne is scratching and you’re going to get in.’

Then Barbara Borden calls, and she says, ‘This is the stewards. Tomorrow in the twelfth race, the Kentucky Derby, do you want to draw in off the also-eligible?’

And I couldn’t even breathe to answer to say yes. I was like, ‘What just happened?’ I was told no, I lost my security guard and now I’m in.”

The morning after the Derby, Reed told gathered media, “I don’t get these horses, 10 or 12 a year like some. I get one a lifetime, so I’ve got to protect him. I’d like him to be here in a couple years and not just have a few races and something goes wrong.”

Reed said Rich Strike will ship to his private training center in Lexington while they assess if he looks set to contest the Preakness. When asked if he felt an obligation to go to the Preakness, he replied, “My obligation is to Rich Strike first, and if Ritchie’s ready to go and I think it’s the right thing for him, we’re gonna go. I need him around a long time. As long as he’s okay after a week and I know it’s the right thing to do we’ll do it. And I want to go – that’s naturally what we want to do – but I have to do what I’ve done from day one with this horse and that’s manage him to take care of him, cause he’ll take care of the rest if I do.”

A toast to the newest Derby winner!

Setting the Stage: Derby 2022

An expected thunderstorm burst forth shortly before the designated training time for the Derby and Oaks horses the morning of May 3, but fortuitously it ended a few moments before the horses were due on track. The anticipation waiting for the horses to appear before me was tremendous, and wonderful. I watched the horses gather at the gap on the large screen, only recognizing White Abarrio for his light gray coat and distinctive blue and yellow tack, and Ethereal Road because D. Wayne Lukas was beside him on a pony. Trainer John Ortiz adjusted the tack on Barber Road, as he also was alongside his charge on a pony. The adjustment seemed to reveal the point of pride having this Derby contender, his first, represented. Barber Road (his name quite reminiscent of Barbaro’s to me, though no doubt not intentional) stood calmly but with complete focus on the track.

Mo Donegal was the first of the Derby contenders to run by that day, then as always the action was fast and furious, so much that as I tried to get photos of some horses running by, others just making their way near the grandstand photobombed them!

I was glad to see Messier, Taiba, and Classic Causeway. While I don’t have a Derby pick – this year I want to see how it unfolds – those three intrigued me due to their sires, with the last named being interesting due to being one of the last small crop for Giant’s Causeway and carrying the torch for his sire one more time. This also is the only time I will see the Derby horses in the flesh Derby week, so it made it even better to see them and also that it was with a small crowd present.

Before the Derby and Oaks designated training period ended, Barber Road loaded into the starting gate for schooling. That is the first time I’ve seen gate schooling during Derby week.

As the analysts mentioned during their running commentary that morning, now all is maintenance and keeping the horses happy until the big day. The stage is set, indeed, with luxury merchandise tents and fencing in place outside the track, and the contenders on site. Wishing a safe trip to all!

A Season of Sunlight

As April wound down, it was lovely to experience time with horses at Old Friends and Kenny McPeek’s Magdalena Farm, as well as take in a few more races at Keeneland.

It is always wonderful to see Silver Charm enjoying time among his lush paddock – in fact the grass must have been quite tempting as he didn’t leave it immediately to come over to the fence for carrots. Now the oldest living Derby winner, his looks belie his age.

Nearby, Swain stood in a pasture. A fairly new arrival to Old Friends, I had not seen him in about a decade when he gazed out of a window from his stall. In fact, he was focused so intently on the scene that I recall joking with my companion he must see something we couldn’t, like his own personal circus, and that is why I still think of the phrase “Swain’s Circus” when I see him. Of course, he was also a top-notch racehorse and I have heard that one definition of the “look of eagles” is when a horse seems to look right through people around them and off into the distance, presenting a noble demeanor. Either way, he left an impression on me that day long ago and while the tour group I was with did not walk down to see him, I took the opportunity while they explored the equine cemetery. I was glad to get the chance to see Swain again, and while a slight dip in his back (to be expected) revealed years that have passed since he was foaled, he looked great too for his age. I don’t know his demeanor and therefore didn’t try to interact – plus he seemed content to stand in peace – but his face looked sweet.

When we arrived at Old Friends, I had noted Medina Spirit’s gravestone, newly arrived. It was poignant to see, and someone had placed a wreath of roses at its base.

Then it was on to Magdalena to see a few mares and foals.

Keeneland wrapped the spring meet two days after I went on that farm tour, and I snapped a photo of its serene beauty.

Gainsborough Mares and Foals

I visited Gainsborough today on a new Horse Country tour, offering a chance to see the farm’s mares and foals. In fact, it was the first ever tour for Horse Country to see the mares and foals there. I arrived a little early and chatted with the tour guides, never expecting Dan Pride to stop by and offer me an Essential Quality hat as a gift for being the first visitor of this tour. That was so kind and unexpected. He even asked if I didn’t mind he’d worn it once. I certainly didn’t – I have an array of horse hats only to display, not wear. Also, Essential Quality won the first Belmont I ever attended and I even thought that Dan Pride had once worn the hat and offered it made it an even neater bit of racing memorabilia for my collection.

Then the other tour guests arrived, and we saw the barns that had housed stallions before they moved to Darley at Jonabell, including one barn that had never housed a horse since they did move over to that farm after it was built. The former breeding shed had lifesize fiberglass horses depicting Elusive Quality and Quiet American, since it was in that location that Real Quiet and Smarty Jones were conceived.

Across from the breeding shed was the barn Elusive Quality and Quiet American resided in while the property had stallions.

The tour guide told us that they expect about 62 foals this year, and approximately half of the mares go to Darley stallions and half go to outside stallions. They have an adviser who matches the mares to stallions on pedigree as well as conformation, hoping for that ideal foal. After that, we went to meet some new arrivals and their dams.

Delightful Quality and her colt, a full sibling to Essential Quality, shared a paddock with another mare and foal. Her colt did not seem like he would be gray like his Belmont winning sibling.

He was not shy about company, but a filly in another pasture took the prize for being most gregarious. Her dam is fine, but had colicked after she gave birth and had to have surgery, so her filly is with a nurse mare.

One of the broodmare barn staff mentioned that foals with nurse mares get so much attention they always expect it, and this filly certainly did! She actually did seem to be showing off when she raced around the paddock, and also tried to stretch her neck as far through the fence as she could to be scratched and patted.

The mares affectionately called “the Golden Girls” have their own field, all being retired from having foals, with a few mares more due to join them after having their foals this year. This field includes Away (Eight Belles’ dam), Bedazzle (who one visitor said apparently is the oldest living dam of a Derby winner), and Hatoof, who is 33.

Walking through the foaling barn, we met a filly who was less than 12 hours old. The chart outside her stall noted that her dam, a half sister to Street Sense, foaled standing up.

After the Gainsborough visit, I stopped by Keeneland. Preparations were under way for the upcoming meet, some of the trees are in bloom, and the Breeders’ Cup statue stood sentinel again.

While this day was chilly, these are definite signs spring is trying to take hold!

Turning the Page to Keeneland January

The 2022 Keeneland January sale began a day later than originally scheduled, necessitated by up to 9 inches of snow dumped on the area late the week before, to ensure the safety of horses and people traveling to the sale.

I have a long-standing habit of attending sales, seeing progeny of horses I enjoyed watching race and in some cases the horses themselves I watched race. This time, I specifically attended for a horse I never saw race (though she is by American Pharoah, whose progeny I have enjoyed following both because he’s from a favorite sire line of mine and to see how they perform for the first Triple Crown winner in my lifetime). While her race career ended up being undistinguished after two races, American Heiress still does and will continue to hold a special place in my heart. For through MyRacehorse, she is the first horse I ever got a chance to have a small ownership stake in and a lot of what drove that I was smitten with her from photos online and couldn’t get the chance to buy in out of my mind. I bought a microshare and then met her late in her yearling year. She is incredibly sweet and my connection to her grew.

Along the route to her racing, from frequent My Racehorse updates, I learned a lot about preliminary horse training that I had never known before.

I saw her once more at two, when she had begun initial training on the track. It didn’t work out to attend any of her races, so my next chance to interact with her was at this sale.

I went on the preview day of January 10, the day that would have been when she originally sold. She was quite popular with potential buyers, out of her stall to be viewed frequently the short time I was there. Right after I arrived and she was on the way back to her stall, she stopped before she reached it and looked at me, and her show person commented on how she was looking. I couldn’t resist then asking to pat her, and he kindly paused to let me. He probably realized how American Heiress (or Luna, as I think of her) does love attention, and it certainly seemed she was seeking that. Another person working for Taylor Made, her consignor, attested to Luna still having that incredibly sweet nature and wanting to love on everybody and I was so happy to oblige and have that moment one-on-one.

It was a beautiful moment of connection that I hoped to have before she changed hands and lived a more private life as a broodmare.

I came back the next day to see her sell. It felt like seeing her get a chance to shine on stage, maybe because I never got to see her race. I thought it would be emotional because of the connection I feel with her, but it was not.

The sense of it being like a chance to see her shine, which I wanted for her, caught me by surprise, but perhaps it shouldn’t for that’s all I wanted for her. She did bring the first six figure price of the sale (though not that many horses had sold by the time she did), going to Springhouse Farm for $180,000. They are local to Lexington, so perhaps I will see some of her progeny race in this vicinity one day, which I told the My Racehorse racing manager was my hope now regarding her, prior to the sale. He was on-site to take video of her in the walking ring for the My Racehorse website, as an investor update.

So that felt like it neatly closed the book on my investment in her, though I know she will be special to me all her life. And I am curious to hear who the first stallion she goes to will be, but I am actually glad it was not overly emotional to watch her go, for that would have meant difficulty accepting what was to be. And I have found myself lately in a better place about doing that, and this became one more example of that.