Summer day

Light and carefree

Made our way down to the last stall

On the left


Near black horse

First ignored us

Looking out the window


Then stuck his head through the opening

At the front of his stall

Lured by the rustle of plastic containing a peppermint


He was kind, mellow

That impression lingers

As does the tour guide saying

his most famous son

got that similar temperament

as a birthright


That was the last time I saw him in this life


After following him on the Derby trail

Cheering him wildly as he briefly attained a lead

For only the short time he ran by our section

at Churchill Downs,

as the field rocketed out of the final turn

and headed down the homestretch


He retired, went to Vinery the first time I saw him up close

It lingers in my mind how he was in trim racing form still

The athlete’s shape evident in every line,

indicating what a top notch runner he had been


He, like many newly retired colts, was a bit antsy

dancing lightly on the end of the lead rope

rather than standing still

And I drank him in with my gaze


Never gets old to see the horses you followed from a distance

up close

once you get that opportunity

Underneath the competitive fire that still burned, the ball of energy within,

it was too soon to reveal that gentle temperament he also had in abundance


That was not a thought then

I was just glad to see him


One more horse from the avidly appreciated Unbridled line

to have his chance at glory through his future progeny


Moved on to WinStar,

where he resided in that final stall

and ate the offered peppermints

the last day I spent in his company


In between those two visits

he cemented his legacy

with a cascade of good runners


and more


the rare feat of becoming a sire of a Triple Crown winner


American Pharoah alone ensures his name will endure


Yet more than any of that


Was the quiet moment in a barn on a lovely late summer day

When he endeared himself to a small group of admirers



That day will linger in my memory the most


For getting to truly know him,


Beyond even the substantial sire statistics and race record, even as important as those are


For one who loves the horse, what matters even more is who they are

that is when they touch your soul

in an elemental way that words are never able to express adequately

but you know will stay with you


He touched people’s lives

That never dies

Even if the physical presence left too soon

and you are saddened


You know he lives on

In a way that can never fade



for the last page being turned



authoring his place in racing history


For the chance to know him I am forever grateful


Rest in peace, Pioneerof the Nile


You were and are loved