Our first stop was Summer Wind Farm, and it was one of the highlights of the entire trip--we spent nearly 2.5 hours there (!!) and oh my, it is paradise. I mainly wanted to meet a few of the mares--namely Leave Me Alone (my husband and I run a Facebook page for one her daughters, Smart and Single), Love Me Only (the pedigree on this mare is phenomenal, and she's a bay with a blaze--I'm a sucker for those!), and Indyan Giving, Fleet Indian's daughter by perennial top sire, AP Indy.) Thanks again to Liz for the wonderful tour--I won't forget it.
|Sunset at Summer Wind|
|The mares can't resist carrots!|
|Ballado's Halo (L, full sister to champion Ashado) and Genuine Devotion|
|Leave Me Alone--this gal was a sweetheart|
|Indyan Giving--also a sweetheart, and as towering as her champion mother|
|Royally-bred Love Me Only--half-sister to Giant's Causeway, by Sadler's Wells|
|Also a sweetheart--I enjoyed every moment with her|
|I loved the tall bay colt (Malibu Moon x People's Princess)--he was content to be scratched on the head all day long. The chestnut is a Curlin x Rahy Dolly colt, and the third is I believe a Malibu Moon x Pampered Princess colt|
|More weanlings! Smart and Single's full brother on the far left, and Love Me Only's Sea the Stars colt on the far right|
|Sea the Stars x Love Me Only--you can't find a better pedigree than this!|
|Skipingo, full brother to Skip Away|
|Summer Wind was also home to many other critters...including this otter|
|Sneakers and Harley--longtime best friends (the cat sleeps with the pig on a regular basis, in all weather)|
|Another Summer Wind cat|
The next day, Friday, we began the day with a tour at Claiborne Farm. This one was to be very special. But first, the stallions.
|Blame--winner of the 2010 Breeder's Cup Classic|
|My husband and Blame|
|I love these two photos--the groom clearly has a wonderful bond with the stallion|
|Secretariat's grave. We were told to feel free to take a rose from the wreath--of course I had to take one|
Marchmont Cemetery lays a drive of roughly a half mile from the main stallion cemetery at Claiborne. The final resting spot of many of the farm's historic blue hen mares, as well as more stallions, Marchmont is notoriously difficult to get into. However, there was one reason I wished to visit this cemetery. It was a wish I had for so long that I once dreamt about it!
With a little help and a lot of luck, we were granted permission to visit Marchmont. And so, after the standard Claiborne tour, the groom drove us to the hallowed cemetery in his private vehicle. When we arrived, Marchmont lay before me in quiet splendor.
|At last--Damascus, Limerick's grandsire|
|Easy Goer and Damascus|
|State, File, Dearly Precious, Mocassin and the great Personal Ensign (in rear)|
|Two stallions I once saw, Devil's Bag and Danzig|
Later that afternoon, we visited with Capt. Candyman Can, a gelding that both my husband and I followed. He had fallen off the radar earlier in the year, and by chance my husband found out where he was located. We asked if we could visit, and they said yes.
|Capt. enjoyed the attention, and was a bit of a ham|
|He is scheduled to return to training next month|
Coolmore/Ashford Stud was our next stop, and the last of the day. We were aware of the bad reputation Ashford has regarding customer service, so we went on the tour with no expectations. None of the stallions were taken out of the stalls except for Fusaichi Pegasus, and even then he was out so briefly that I could not get a good photo of him in his entirety. Ah, well. The nicest employees there were two barn cats that I met on the tour--I made friends with both of them.
|Dunkirk at Ashford Stud|
|FuPeg's glorious dappled butt|
|One highlight was seeing Storm Bird's old stall|
|Storm Bird as I saw him in 1995. I love the groom's cautious pat on the nose (Storm Bird didn't exactly have a cuddly-stallion reputation)|
|Speaking of old stalls, let's skip back to Claiborne for a second, and see Mr. Prospector's stall|
|Mr. Prospector as I saw him in 1994. "Mr. P" is one of my absolute favorite stallions of all time. Like Northern Dancer, he has created a lasting legacy that will continue for decades to come|
We ended the day on a pontoon on Stoner Creek--it couldn't have been a better ending.
|View of Claiborne from Stoner Creek|
The next day, Saturday, was begun with a very, very special appointment. One of my top five favorite racehorses of the past decade (and certainly in the top five or ten that I've ever seen run 'live') retired in August. Shortly before our trip, I emailed her farm to see if we could visit her. To my great surprise, the farm owner himself got back to me and said that while they don't normally do private visits, they would make an exception this time. Oh-my-gosh! As it turned out, we were her first visitors.
By gone-too-soon stallion El Prado out of the Silver Hawk mare Memories of Silver (now well her way to becoming a blue hen mare with two stakes winners to her name, the other being La Cloche, by Ghostzapper), the beautiful Winter Memories was a favorite of mine before her 2011 Garden City (g.1) win at Belmont Park, but that win--and how she captured it!--absolutely stole my heart.
After that win, in my mind's eye, angels would sing every time I saw her on television, and the atmosphere surrounding every track she stepped on and every race she entered took on a lyrical quality. Plagued by traffic problems, she didn't get the win in every race, but she always gave it her best. I was extremely saddened when she retired, but am very much looking forward to seeing her babies run.
|My husband giving her a pat|
|Winter Memories and I--a priceless moment!|
On the way to see Winter Memories, I spotted this historic cemetery. Of course, I had to stop and get photos on the way back. This one is my favorite--can you find the barn cat? He was very friendly and insisted that it would make a great photo if he posed on Black Toney's statue. I have to concur!
|Graves of Black Toney, Ribot and Roberto|
Next we visited our final farm of the weekend--Lane's End. Thanks to a friend, we had the chance to have a private tour with the stallions. Topping my list was AP Indy. I had seen him at the open house last year, but it was difficult to get good photographs of his characteristic face and Seattle Slew eyes with people everywhere.
|By Seattle Slew, out of the Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise, AP Indy is a perennial sire|
My husband had reminded me before our stop at Lane's End that another favorite newly-retired racehorse of mine, The Factor, was at the farm. I knew he had been going there, but didn't realize he was already there.
|Another recent retiree, 2012 Belmont winner Union Rags|
|His sire, Smart Strike, also snoozed|
|...as did Quality Road|
At the end of the tour, the groom asked us if we wanted to see the cemetery. Did I ever! Many great horses, and mares, are laid to rest here.
|Weekend Surprise, dam of AP Indy|
|Important Mr. Prospector son Fappiano, and Sovereign Dancer|
|Sire of Union Rags, Dixie Union, and his sire, Dixieland Band|
At last, we went to Keeneland for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup card.
|Three two-year-old fillies in an early race|
|Tannery (IRE) feeling her oats before the QE II|
|Dayatthespa, eventual winner of the QE II|
|Dayatthespa wiring the field in the QE II|