She’s a lovely mare, a chestnut with a coat that appeared even more radiant in the March sunshine. It was great to see warmth and signs of spring at last, as trees began to blossom and songbirds returned. Even if Kentucky may not stay consistently as warm as one may wish when the calendar reaches the first day of spring, it is so welcome to shake off winter and have the days of intense cold so rapidly become a distant memory.

The mid-March day was so warm and pleasant, perfect for visiting horses.

We turned to the chestnut mare’s paddock after seeing Joyful Victory and her newest foal, a Medalgia d’Oro filly who was about two weeks old at the time. Joyful Victory’s next foal, if all goes as planned, will be sired by American Pharoah, according to the information on her stall door. The part of me that revered Pharoah so much felt a little awed knowing that Joyful Victory is of the caliber to visit the Triple Crown winner. But then, I know she is.

My sister, nephews, and I get time with Joyful Victory

My sister, nephews, and I get time with Joyful Victory

Joyful Victory's 2016 filly

Joyful Victory’s 2016 filly

Joyful Victory's Medalgia d'Oro filly

Joyful Victory’s Medalgia d’Oro filly

Before this visit, I last saw her when she was a new arrival at Taylor Made, a little darker and still race fit, and she had an incredible presence about her.

Now it’s time to see if that talent passes to the next generation, and if she and Pharoah can come up with a good runner. Time will tell.

After interacting with the three mares and their foals, we turned to the nearby paddock with Silken Cat, the lovely chestnut, and her companion. She was living the easy life then, having produced top runner and eventual top sire Speightstown as her first foal. That set the tone for a legacy of colts and fillies that commanded high prices at auction. She had earned her complete retirement.

We approached and waited for a chance to interact with Silken Cat. She took a few steps closer, away from her bay pasture mate, but stopped as though the distance was too far.


“That’s odd,” says the Taylor Made employee who took us to see her. “She usually comes right over.”

I lingered a bit longer to watch her. There’s just something about these top mares whose talent shone on the track that draws me in every time. I hadn’t been that familiar with Silken Cat’s achievements on the track, but I’d heard of Speightstown and could see how he alone was enough to make her revered at Taylor Made. She truly was.

I was also touched to read the inscription on the dry erase board Taylor Made has on each mare’s stall door. I don’t remember the exact words but they were something along the lines of “living the well-deserved easy life.” Those words and the way we were taken to see her was with a clear sense of pride in her, and respect for her.

When I originally wrote about the time we spent at Taylor Made and seeing Silken Cat, all the present tense descriptions of her had to be changed to past tense.

For I read a few days after our visit that Silken Cat, the champion and dam of promising progeny, died peacefully in her paddock on March 15. That was the same day we saw her.

Taylor Made shared the news in a fitting tribute to this lovely mare, saying how special she was and how she loved people, peppermints, and carrots.

In fact, I remember our guide saying we should have brought peppermints, and I recall wishing she would come over and let us get to know her. It still felt like a privilege to be in her presence, though.

I know very well from the brief time we were near her, she had a good life at Taylor Made. And a peaceful passing is always a blessing.

After seeing the mares, we saw the barn where American Pharoah was raised as a yearling and then saw a few of the stallions in their paddocks.

A photo in the barn where Pharoah was raised as a yearling

A photo in the barn where Pharoah was raised as a yearling

More  photos in the barn where Pharoah was raised as a yearling

More photos in the barn where Pharoah was raised as a yearling



We also were shown California Chrome’s stall with his nameplate, awaiting his retirement from racing. Of course, that’s the stall where I already saw him last year during a layoff, but now all the focus around him is for the intense hope that he prevails in the Dubai World Cup that is so rapidly approaching.

I started an internship at the Blood-Horse last week, and naturally the news has been flowing in constant waves from Dubai.

I liked California Chrome very much during his Triple Crown run. There was just something about him. I then guess I got a little disillusioned after his Belmont loss and some of the controversies that swirled around him. None of that was the horse’s fault, of course. And it’s wonderful to see a popular horse kept in training as long as Chrome has been. I welcome following their careers as long as their connections see fit to race their horses, but it’s especially good to see a career of true longevity. And after seeing Chrome at Taylor Made last year and getting a bit acquainted with him (and the way he poses and draws people in) and now seeing all the news flow in from Dubai, I am really thinking he is the real deal as a racehorse. He looks sharp and ready. Sure, it won’t be easy. It is the World Cup, after all, with a multitude of top horses. But it seemed so easy for him to win his prep in Dubai last month, and I like that he’s been in Dubai for a good while, having plenty of time to acclimate.

However he does and whatever the caliber of his competition, Chrome has firmly won me over once again. He’s been a real eye-catching specimen from the photos I’ve seen from Dubai, and seems poised for a big effort. I wish him and Victor Espinoza the best of luck and a good trip.