As more people begin to be vaccinated for COVID-19, farms around central Kentucky that are part of Horse Country have begun to welcome visitors again after a substantial hiatus, and Spendthrift was one I had been most eager to get to as a microshare holder in Authentic who never got to see him during his race days due to the pandemic.

My Racehorse actually held a lottery recently for lucky share holders to see him, also, but I wasn’t chosen this time. However, with Horse Country tours also an option, I got to select the day I went and chose my birthday. I also brought peppermints for Authentic, as he had been such a bright spot with his victories in a challenging 2020, and I wanted him to have something he liked for the groom to give him later.

Several other microshare holders were on the tour, and we got a brief glimpse of Authentic looking out of the stall before moving on to the breeding shed, to get an overview of Spendthrift history and graded stakes winners commemorated in plaques around the walls. It was nice to pause and reflect on the history of the farm, and be among the horses and the beautifully landscaped setting.

While standing in the aisle near holding stalls, a teaser was brought in and vans carrying mares for afternoon breeding sessions arrived. Brody’s Cause was the first stallion to go into the breeding shed for the afternoon, and we wandered the stalls of the U-shaped barns to get a look at the inhabitants, and viewed the horse cemetery before moving on to the barn where Into Mischief, Malibu Moon, Authentic, and several other stallions reside.

Authentic was getting bathed when we walked in, and I was impressed by his physique. While he’s nearly an entire breeding season removed from his racing days, his athleticism was still evident in his muscular build.

Our tour guide spoke of Lord Nelson, and his fight with laminitis that delayed the start of his stud career, and she said he basically owed his life to Barbaro and the advances made in the treatment of laminitis during the latter’s own case of it. I reflected on that for a moment. I still believe Barbaro was a sublime talent who could have won the Triple Crown with a different set of circumstances, and it did hit me hard after his long road to what seemed like it would be recovery at several points for him to succumb after all. But then, he left an enduring legacy for horses like Lord Nelson, and maybe if that was to be what he gave to racing post-career, perhaps that is more meaningful than a Triple Crown win, as sad as it is the advances made did not save him. But I know they tried all they could, so I am also glad the statue at Churchill Downs is dedicated to his racing glory and all the promise he showed.

As the tour began to wind down, we each had an opportunity to get time with Authentic one-on-one when he was back in his stall, and get photos with him as well. It meant a lot to me to have those photos, and spend some of my birthday with him.