Crestwood Farm

On a lovely, quite atypical January day, Crestwood held their annual open house. Clear blue skies and a sun that illuminated the horses’ coats, most noticeably highlighting the subtle dapples on Jack Milton, brought out a large group of attendees. The farm later said it was likely their best turnout yet.

Texas Red, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, was being shown upon my arrival.

Jack Milton is quite stunning. The son of War Front has a masterful way of presenting himself, proudly, that makes one stop and take notice.

The Player, recently arrived at Crestwood after spending more time at Buff Bradley’s farm upon his release from a clinic where he was treated for fractured sesamoids, had people flocking to him. He has long been a fan favorite for being a star of Bradley’s Facebook videos during his race career, and no doubt many of those who flocked to him during the open house had followed his progress after his injury and appreciated the opportunity to see him and that he had recovered. He understandably walked with a limp but the hitch in his stride didn’t override how he appeared otherwise. He seems to have a calm and very personable temperament, and stood quietly as breeders and other onlookers inspected him. Anyone who came near his head and wasn’t just walking around to assess his conformation was given  a carrot to feed him, from a bag of them that was just for him. After his ordeal and recovery, it seemed he deserved all the carrots anyone wanted to give him, and he took one from my hand in an unrushed gentle fashion that seemed to match the calm nature evident in his demeanor and the look in his eyes.

Ashford Stud

A few days after the Crestwood open house, typical cold temperatures returned but the sun still shone upon the horses, both at the farms and Keeneland for the four-day sale, where all were as impeccably turned out as possible, and the sun caught the little details like oiled hooves.

Mendelssohn has settled in well to life at the farm, and carries himself with a comportment and poise that one may not have guessed he would from his days on the track, when he famously neighed nearly continuously in the mornings until he began his gallops during training.


He has an impressive conformation and balance, and one of the staff at Ashford already firmly believes he will be a champion sire. He certainly has the pedigree to be. It will be interesting to see how that unfolds. He also has a kind nature, as revealed when I got one-on-one time with him not long after his arrival at the farm in November.

Practical Joke was described as having filled out nicely from a year ago, and while he had not been on my radar among all the other notable names that fill out the current Ashford stallion roster, there was no denying how eye-catching he is.

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Speaking of filling out nicely, American Pharoah also fits that bill, as the newly turned 7-year-old had just recently returned from stud duty in Australia. He still amazes, for the fluidity of his motion even at a walk. He evokes awe in his presence, for his physical appearance, even beyond his achievements as a Triple Crown winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner at three. His next big test comes this year, as his first crop has turned two. Reports suggest they largely have great minds, and hopefully there is a good pool of racing ability to go along with that.

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He didn’t stay out of his stall long, since he had so recently been in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer days, and was described as “only wearing a T-shirt,” but it was certainly long enough to get a good look at how he has continued to mature and develop.

Justify was being shown on the hour every hour during the open house, so while waiting for him at the barn nearest to the statue honoring Giant’s Causeway, Classic Empire was led out for inspection. He has also matured into an impressive-looking individual.

Justify is shown behind the white fence placed near the entrance to the barn, and everyone present had to stand on the other side, since he does not have the same laid-back demeanor as American Pharoah. He mostly wanted to remain on the move too, whereas Pharoah had stood stock-still, like a statue, until asked to walk. Justify was all walk and little standing still but even that was enough to be struck anew by how muscular and large he is for his age.

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Lord Nelson, who had covered 125 mares in 2018 because that seemed a book size that was just right after it took him an entire year to recover from foundering in 2017, will remain at that book size for this year’s breeding season. The only concessions to those issues are a special shoe and not being turned as sharply when being shown as the other stallions, and probably a little extra monitoring of his feet condition, but otherwise he gets turned out the same amount of time as the other stallions and follows their routines.

Free Drop Billy

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Bolt d’Oro has already had his book filled before the season has even begun, and a recent TCA auction of stallion seasons saw his sell for as much as his stud fee.

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