Brisk morning at the training track. Long, low barns glowing white in the sunlight. Horses galloping past railbirds with stopwatches. It helps to know someone pretty famous in the horse world to get behind the scenes access like I experienced today. I haven’t mentioned this before, but I am friends with Jim Gaffney, former exercise rider of Secretariat. He’s an awesome guy and very, very generous with his time and knowledge. This morning, I joined him at the Thoroughbred Center and met Mary McKinley, an owner/breeder/trainer from PA with some nice horses by Private Terms.
Gaffney & Girls and the Thoroughbred Center, from Left: Mary Gaffney, Mary McKinley, Jim Gaffney and Karen Curtis(my mom!).McKinley has 2 horses racing this weekend at Turfway. The one I watched this morning was a near-black 3yo gelding named MO TERMS. The colt was race-fit and pulling on his rider as they took an easy jog in company around the track. MO pulled ahead of the other 2 colts and looked determined to win -- he has had 2 hard luck seconds lately and the consensus on track was that his next one would be his maiden-breaker. 1st race, 1st post on SUnday at TURFWAY, MO TERMS...wise-guy pick!McKinley told us about her yearling colt by Arthur's Ring named SHREKRETARIAT who will be in the look-alike contest tomorrow!MO TERMS (far right) warms up for a jog with two others.
After about an hour and a half at the TB Center, we all packed up and headed for CLaiborne Farm, where a friend of McKinley’s, Tony BAttaglia (no relation to Mike), waited to take us on a quick tour of the stallion complex.
Jim rode Secretariat more than anyone else during the horse’s career, but he never got to see Big Red at stud. This was only the 2nd time he had been to Claiborne. Battaglia made us all very welcome and thrilled us with stories of CLaiborne’s greatest stallions.
BAttaglia grooms Eddington and During, and he brought out the tall red son of Unbridled for us to inspect.
Jim says he could leg up right now...all 17 hands up.
They mean business here...good thing I had an escort.
Tony also brought out 1998 South African Triple Crown winner HORSE CHESTNUT for us! I *love* this horse. He only ran once in the US before getting hurt, winning the Broward Stakes. But he looks like Secretariat!
Handsome Horse ChestnutClaiborne Stands a solid roster of established sires as well as new lines. Flatter, Strong Hope, Horse Greely and First Samurai are all first or second crop sires. The farm's strongest sire is its favorite homebred - PULPIT. Pulpit, winner of the 1997 Bluegrass Stakes, sire of multiple stakes winners and a sweetie.
Me & Jim at Secretariat's former stallWhile at Claiborne, I engaged in some genius thoroughbred trivia mad skillz. Just because I am a young chick doesn't mean I don't know who Swale was! In the Claiborne cemetery, a weathered tombstone marks where Johnstown is buried. Johnstown was the 1939 KY Derby winner, duh;-)The breeding shed at Claiborne looks like a tobacco barn. The bricks out front are, fittingly, made of rubber.Charlie Davis was another of the exercise riders Lucien Laren employed in the 70's and he accompanied Secretariat to Lousiville for the '73 Derby. He is also in town for the SecFest and was touring Claiborne while we were there, too!Charlie Davis Claiborne is always a great place to visit, but I was most looking forward to meeting Congaree at Adena Springs!The imposing main gate at Adena resembles the entrance of a posh gated community.
Adena relocated to this site last year. All of the barns and offices still have that new car smell, and there are even houses for the employees on the property, too. The main office was the coolest thing: when you go in the front door, a richly-appointed lobby with gleaming trophy cases greet you at the front desk. You go out a back door into the attached stallion barn and breeding shed! It is awesome-I want a house like that!
I will have more photos and updates tomorrow, but for now I am tired and must get my beauty sleep. Here’s one last photo for your viewing pleasure: