I rarely fly into my local airport in Lexington, so I loved seeing the nods to horse racing in the form of stallion advertisements within and the horse statues outside, as well as the unbeatable view of Keeneland and Calumet from the sky, which I craned to see. I couldn’t remember if I had ever known Calumet has a training track, never visible from the road, so I enjoyed that aspect of discovery from the overhead view.
It struck me upon exiting the area of the airport reserved for flight passengers how it was like a symbolic exit from one year to the next, as the days of 2021 were nearly gone. Even with a few years recently that have been challenging, it was also a reminder there’s always reason to hope. And these stallion ads did represent hope for the future, of what their foals may be.
A few days later, I paid a visit to Silver Springs and Spendthrift, looking in on a few horses I’ve invested in through MyRacehorse and a few they own that I haven’t, like Vow. It was good to round out the year with horse time, always restorative to me. A few barn cats tagged along, enlivening the tour further with their presences.
Then it was on to Spendthrift, primarily to see Authentic, who I believe each of the three of us on the tour had invested in. Before going to the stallion barns, we paused outside of the breeding shed, noting that 2020 stakes winners conceived at Spendthrift had recently had their names added, including Authentic.
Recent rains had left mud irresistible to each of the stallions, just being brought up from their paddocks upon our group’s arrival to have a meal in their stalls. Mud did not distract from his eye-catching appearance. He presented himself well. I approached after a few moments, tentatively reaching out a hand to have a personal interaction. A lot had changed for me since I saw him previously in May, and I had forgotten he had a kind nature. Still best to approach a stallion without assuming, but he sniffed my hand without causing me concern he’d nip.
Our guide, the MyRacehorse concierge, related once more how this U-shaped barn was built for insurance purposes, to fulfill requirements to house a horse of Nashua’s value, and was sometimes called “the Nashua Motel.” While Authentic does not reside in that barn, it makes a glorious backdrop for him during the time he stood there for our visit. His barn is magnificent too, with its elegant craftsmanship seen in the fine wood and the lights that hang within. It frames trees that offer a pleasing symmetry near the breeding shed, catching my eye even without their leaves. Given how unseasonably warm that day was, it wasn’t too far-fetched to almost expect leaves to be budding! It did make the visit more pleasant than one may expect for late December.
All was quiet, as expected in the interim between breeding seasons, and yet the stalls that would receive mares paying a visit to be bred were already filled with shavings. On the cusp of a new year, and the universal birthday of all this hemisphere’s Thoroughbreds, the expectation of what would be and the rhythm of life on the farm continued.