Saturday, September 2, 2017

Something About B.F.Wano

There was baseball, boxing and horse racing.  At the turn of the 20th century they were the big three of American sports.  And clearly the most favored of all was horse racing, particularly harness racing, and specifically, Dan Patch, a natural pacer (both right side legs move, followed by both legs on the left side).

No sports figure of that sport-happy time in America's brief history garnered more ink in the press or cash at the turnstile.  Twice in his fabled career, Dan Patch drew crowds in excess of 100,000 at a reported one U.S. Dollar per head.  His name appeared on everything from cut-plug tobacco cans and cigars to washing machines and pool cues.

One of many products using the Dan Patch name.

He traveled in a custom built railcar with his picture appearing on both its sides, and, they say, its interior was lined in red velvet.  The Jersey Lilly, the famous Lilly Langtry, came to meet him.  President Eisenhower remembered seeing him at the Kansas State Fair in 1904 and as a boy, President to be, Harry Truman, sent him a fan letter.  Dan Patch even had his own pet dog.

So dominating were his performances that often no horse would challenge him and he would pace against the clock.  Dan Patch lost just two heats in his career and never lost a race.  Fourteen times he broke world speed records and his official record for one mile stands at 1:55 1/4.

At the Minnesota State Fair in 1906 he scorched the track in 1:55 flat, an unofficial record which stood for thirty-two years until matched by Billy Direct in 1938.  It was a four horse race with two of the contenders staying close to Dan, but video footage shows that both of these horses have broken and are galloping by the race's end.  It was not until 1960 when Adios Butler paced a mile in 1:54 .3, that Dan Patch's unofficial record was broken.

The 111 year old video of the Minnesota State Fair race of 1906 follows.  Imagine the times that Dan Patch might turn on today's modern tracks and using today's sophisticated equipment.

The following is a lovely tribute to Dan Patch.

As popular as harness racing had become, no horse approached the fame and popularity of Dan Patch.  He had no peers and every other horse raced in his long shadow.  They ran at county fairs and tracks in places that have long been forgotten.  Their careers and lives were the definition of anonymity.

B.F. Wano was such a horse.  Not much is known about him.  He was a trotter (legs move on the diagonal: right front, left rear , etc.) and not a pacer.  Like Dan Patch, Wano was a stallion and for that time, big for the breed at 15.3 hands, or just over five feet in height at the withers and weighing about 1100 pounds.  He was powerfully built, muscular and well proportioned, with a short back and very straight legs.  Across his form lay a lustrous, rich brown coat.  Most assuredly all comparisons to Dan Patch end there.

The weather on September 21, 1906 at Fort Wayne, Indiana was undoubtedly fine as the average temperature for the month was 70.4 degrees, and it must have suited B.F. Wano, because in the third heat of the day he set a race record of 2:141/4.  Or did he?  According to a piece used to advertise his availability as a "sure foal getter," he did.  But thanks to Paul Wilder at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York, I learned that he tied the record and did not set it.

The race consisted of four heats with Wano finishing second in the first and second heats, and first in the third and fourth heats.  His driver was obscure, someone named Morgan.  For now this is all that is known about B, F. Wano, but on this one day in 1906 he ran his heart out (actually he trotted) and proved himself to all who watched.

His owner, W. H. Stults of Wren, Ohio, claimed in his advertising that B.F. Wano had trotted a mile in 2:10 and a half in 1:03.  Who knows?  Perhaps Stults engaged in a bit of advertising bombast so common in the early twentieth century when he said that, "in style and action he is perfect," and "his colts are large with fine style and action."  

From the Wilshire (Ohio) Herald, May 5, 1904, "W.H. Stults and J.L. Moser were Wilshire vistiors Saturday afternoon.  The latter is president and the former cashier of the Bank of Wren.  They are both hustlers, and the leading financiers of their bailiwick."  Hustlers?  Mr. Stults later lived in Indiana where the trail ends - for now.

If anyone should know more about B.F. Wano or W.H. Stults please leave a comment.

This article, in a slightly different form, appeared in the Horse Collaborative, now Horse Network.

Copyright 2015 by Loren R. Schumacher
Photo of B.F. Wano from the author's collection.
All other photos and videos belong to Getty Images or Youtube by unknown sources.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Road To The Horse 2017: A Celebration of the Cowgirl

While the Road To The Horse (RTTH) colt starting championship's format changes little from year to year, producer and owner Tootie Bland reaches deeply into her imagination to present interesting and innovative programs to excite and engage her audience.

However, change may be in order to prevent the show from becoming a boring parody.  Why?  There simply are not enough stars in the trainer/clinician universe to maintain interest.  There are many top-flight trainers, but very few are successful and entertaining enough to sell out Altel Arena at The Kentucky Horse Park.  Once beyond Craig Cameron, Parrelli, Lyons and Clinton Anderson, not to mention Chris Cox, four time undefeated champion of RTTH, the pool becomes very shallow.

This year's contest was billed as a Celebration of the Cowgirl, but seemed to walk a fine line, perhaps unintentionally, between a contest of skilled competitors and a feminist forum. Tootie Bland often said that this event will/would prove that women are as good as the men.  Anyone with their wits about them knows that horsewomen are every bit as skilled and generally more empathetic than their male counterparts.  Woman have competed at RTTH in the past and done very well, thank you.   Several years ago Sarah Dawson, competing against both men and women, lead until the last day of the competition when she was thrown from her horse.  Little was made of the fact that Sarah was a young woman and the daughter of former RTTH winner Richard Winters.  And I don't remember the sequin spangled Bland cheerleading like a spastic marionette for Sarah, or Obie Schlom, the other female competitor of that year.

The lack of star power almost surely reduced the gate in 2017, and I am just as certain that there were far fewer men in attendance than in the past.  Men, it seems (I'm a guy), don't seem to be very interested in watching women compete athletically.  What a shame, because one of the women, Vicki Wilson, put on a hell of a show and could/can compete toe to toe with any of her male counterparts.

The Running of the Remuda (horses are provided by Texas' 6666 ranch) heralds the beginning of each Road To The Horse, and this year's herd was memorable because of two of its 3 year old cast members: a big gorgeous gray that came to be know as Checkers and hip #7, a feisty, running, bucking, kicking brat of a horse that everyone fell for immediately.  Incidentally, #7 was not chosen by any of the four competitors but was the backup choice by three of the women.

This is 2015's remuda.**

A cowboy from the 6666 ranch.  The wranglers manage the remuda and the horses selected by the four competitors.**

Tootie wanted a rodeo atmosphere for the RTTH and five years ago brought aboard the annoying magpie, Matt West.  He is an emcee for PBR (Professional Bull Riders) events nationally and in Canada.  I hear his voice and want to reach for a PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon bee).  He replaced the low-key and well-liked Rick Lamb, host of the nationally known television program, The Horse Show. Believe me it has been all down hill since Rick was sidelined.  West has not profited from his exposure to this event.   Over the years, Wests seems to have gained little or no insight into the competition and simply parrots the remarks of any celebrity he can buttonhole. Repetition, of course, breeds contempt.  His specialty is the irritatingly juvenile count-down, you know: 10, 9, 8... before introducing any act or change of direction in the program. Ugh!

Worse still was his co-host Stacy Westfall, (a woman by the way), winner of the RTTH in 2006.  She is also a former NRHA Freestyle Reining Competition champion.  Her ride sans bridle created  a sensation and the YouTube video of her run has been viewed more than 1,000,000 times.  Today she competes successfully in mounted shooting, and with her husband Jesse, presents clinics worldwide, while still finding time to train horses and produce How To videos.  On the street she would have a ton of CRED.   I hate to say it, but she was a complete zero, adding little and all but disappearing on day two of the event.

Originally Barbara Cox, wife of Chris Cox, was scheduled to compete.  But due to a very serious back operation was unable to participate.  In all likelihood her competitive career is over due to the serious nature of her spinal surgery.  Her obligations as wife and mother had a significant influence on her decision to leave competition.

My wife, Carol and Chris Cox.  Chris told Carol a great deal about his wife's condition **

Rachelle Valentine worked as an intern with Clinton Anderson, worked with Dean Locke and is now an assistant trainer for Sean Patrick in Florida, From the beginning it seemed that the moment was too big for her as she made several mistakes with her gelding, the huge gray she named Checkers. And because of Checker's size, the insipid Matt West christened him "Chubby" Checkers after the 1960's singer who gave us the hit tune, The Twist.  

Like nearly all of the 6666 horses, Checkers was difficult to move forward.  Hard to imagine after you see them race the arena over and over again.  The members of the remuda are more or less wild horses with little in their past to prepare them for these three days, three of the most important days of their lives.  They know the way of the herd and little else and have spent a year or two on the plains of Texas without human contact.  Once under saddle, Checkers gave Rachelle all she could handle. But Valentine's problems began during one of the mandatory rest breaks for Checkers. On day one the great gray was left alone in the round pen saddled and bridled as were all of the other contestants horses at one point or another.  But Rachelle left one of her reins dangling and Checkers stepped on it, then danced in panic for a few moments.  Point deductions by the judges followed.

 Her barrel-chested gelding pushed past her and broke for freedom as she closed the round pen gate after riding him outside its limits for several minutes.  More penalty points.  After day one, Rachelle spent her time looking up at her fellow competitors, a place she never relinquished.

Rachelle Valentine and Checkers outside the round pen.**

After breaking free.**

Checkers pushing a ball while crossing a tarp.  Difficult work well done.**

After the obstacle course.  The use of pink and white on the course to emphasize femininity made a mockery of the contestants.**

On a horse Sarah Dawson is fluid and graceful, her every movement has a purpose and nothing is left to chance. She is a terrific horsewoman and I think often overlooked because of her quiet, almost shy demeanor.  She shares one characteristic with her father, Richard Winters, she is a phenomenal rider. I am not being crude when I say that her butt never leaves the saddle no matter the gait.  Not every competitor, male or female, can say the same.

She is newly married and with her husband Chris, they operate Dawson Performance Horses in Aubrey, Texas.  Their focus is on Reined Cow Horses and they currently have about sixty head in one state of training or another.  Her marriage and professional success have given her once flat delivery during demonstrations a boost.  There is a joy and happiness evident when she speaks now and she wears it well.

Sarah has two NRCHA (National Reined Cow Horse Assoc.) World Championships to her credit and was the 2015 Snaffle Bit Futurity Limited Open Champion and has been a finalist in every NRCHA premier event.  At this writing, Sarah is currently ranked eighth nationally, while her husband is ranked number two. Chris was in Las Vegas competing while she started her colt at the RTTH.  

Sarah Dawson on her colt. #4**

Despite her usual solid work, Sarah spent the weekend in third places with less than ten points separating her from the top spot and Kate Neubert.  Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be too good at what you do.

Kate Neubert grew up starting horses with her father, clinician Bryan Neubert, in California.  Her specialty is in cutting horses, where her winnings are approaching $200,000.  She qualified two horses to the semi-finals in the 2014 NCHA Futurity, her first year competing in this prestigious event.

She describes herself as Kate the horse trainer, the competitor and as a somewhat quiet girl from California, but also as a servant of God and student of the horse.  

As she enters her round-pen you are struck by how small she is, tiny by any measure, but tough and thorough, competent and aggressive.  In her brochure she is quoted as saying, "We can take young horses - horses that are frightened, stressed or confused, and in a short amount of time (and with the right efforts) we can teach them understanding, trust and encouragement.  We can mold them and shape them and create a willing partner, all because of our approach.  If we can apply these tactics to every corner of our lives-, just think of the growth and impact we can have on ourselves and others!"
Her comments define the perfect strategy for any horse endeavor, but especially one such as the RTTH, where the time allowed with a young gelding is at a premium and the results can define the rest of the horse's life.

Kate Neubert and her young gelding.**

In first place at the end of day one, she began day two by striding confidently into her round-pen, insisting on forward movement from her 3-year-old charger.  I've noticed over the past several years that horses provided by the 6666 ranch tend toward a bit of indolence, perhaps a byproduct of fear caused by their separation from the herd.  But it is a contest that requires forward motion.

With a scant ten point margin over Kiwi Vicki Wilson in second place, Kate literally did a hop, skip and jump as she entered the arena and began to prepare her horse for the obstacle course on day three. The obstacle course, as you might expect, separates "the men from the boys" and the audience responds to each competitor with encouragement,. thunderous applause and ear-splitting cheers.  

Somewhere on day three it began to go wrong for Kate Neubert. I couldn't tell you where exactly, mostly it came down to her horse's capacity to learn and willingness to cooperate.  Many have said, "How did we ever train horses without blue tarpolins?" Sluggish at pole-bending, with uncertain and ragged passages over the next two obstacles, the dreaded tarpolin reared its cobra-like head and bit Kate Neubert.  But this time the tarp was white with Zoetis printed in bold bright orange letters across its surface and may as well have been ten feet tall, because Kate Neubert's horse would not cross.

Vicki Wilson, the last minute replacement for Barbara Cox, came to the arena wearing riding breaches, a helmet, tight calf-high riding boots and a flat saddle.  A champion show jumper in her native New Zealand, she speaks in a slightly nasal clipped accent that combines a bit of English haughtiness with a demand for your respect. No one could have looked or sounded more out of place than Vicki Wilson in the good ol' boys environment of western colt starting.  

Vicki Wilson and the horse she named Kentucky. **

Notice that there is tape over the name on Vicki's saddle cloth.  Not unusual, when my horse Stormy Monday and I appeared with Rick Lamb on The Horse Show, I had to remove my Chris Cox vest!  At that time ADM, the show's sponsor, also sponsored Clinton Anderson.

Vicki and her two sisters are well known for their work saving the wild horses of New Zealand and now have brought their passion to the United States and our native horse, the mustang.  And I think it is the word "passion" that best describes Vicki Wilson's relationship to her horses and life.

It was not her accent or her garb that riveted those in the arena, but her skill in coaxing everything that her horse Kentucky had to give at any given moment and rewarding his effort with rest.

No one really saw what happened, only that it appeared she had been thrown.  In fact, she had somehow dislocated her left shoulder, an old injury, and leaped to the ground landing on her bum. Scrambling  to her feet and doing a passable job of mending the joint, she continued as though nothing had happened.  Vicki is a tough and experienced competitor and as Chris Cox said of her, "If you shake hands with her you'd better hold on to something."  Earning Chris' respect is a trophy to cherish.

Returning the next morning, day two, with her arm in a sling, she said that she had spent an uncomfortable night, had seen a "physio" and was back to to do the job she came to do.  In that moment she won over the assembly, if not the judges.  She remained in second place behind Kate Neubert by a mere ten points as day three dawned.

For three days Vicki Wilson demonstrated knowledge, competence, courage and extraordinary skill, whether showcasing her diagnostic and chiropractic skills in a demonstration (she even had adjusted Stacey Westfall's horse once and had been asked to do another adjustment), or in a dream-like spotlit performance aboard one of Dan James' horses, she simply stood taller than her fellow competitors.

Vicki Wilson and Pegasus

Vicki Wilson and one of Dan James horses in a bridle-less exhibition.**

It was among the pink and white fixtures of the obstacle course that Vicki Wilson excelled and laid claim to the 2017 title.  Her vast experience and calm reassuring demeanor led her horse, Kentucky, to accomplish what a horse with little more than three hours of training should not have been able to do.

A timed event, Vicki and Kentucky finished the obstacle course with minutes to spare.  She eliminated his fears with gentle but firm guidance, giving him courage and confidence where fear had reigned just seconds before.  In the process she was creating the brave and trusting horse that all of us want to ride. Understanding his reluctance before an obstacle, Vicki several times dismounted and walked her horse around and through or over the obstacles that shook his resolve. In particular the white Zoetis tarp that I mentioned earlier, first walking Kentucky across, then remounting and riding him across.  In that moment the audience picked their winner.  It was left only to the fickle judges to confirm the victory.  I might add that while the audience had selected a winner, the judges seem to grudgingly accept the vaguely different methods used by foreign competitors, primarily Australians, before awarding them the brass ring.

With the smallest margin of victory in the competitions fifteen year history, a new champion was crowned: Vicki Wilson of New Zealand.  And deservedly so.  She'll be back in 2018 to defend her crown and she will do an exceptional job of it, be sure of that.  We can only hope that the 2018 version is not billed as a "battle of the sexes."  This is not the WWE (professional wrestling), it is the beginning of a new life for a horse that only days before will have roamed freely on the Texas plains.  

It is not about gender, it is the about the horse - always the horse, first and foremost, the horse.

Amid the pyrotechnics the winner is...  Notice her left arm in a sling,

Tootie Bland and Vicki Wilson.

Copyright, July 27, 2017 by Loren Schumacher
All photos marked ** are copyrighted by Loren Schumacher, July 27, 2017
All other photo copyrights are by the photographer, RTTH or by Western Horseman Magazine

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Derby Winner Classic Empire...!! What?

This is a story the Cincinnati Enquirer printed in its Saturday, May 27, 2017 edition.  The article read:

Derby Winner Classic Empire skipping Belmont

New York - Kentucky Derby winner Classic Empire will Skip the Belmont Stakes next month after finishing eighth in the Preakness.

Trainer Todd Pletcher says the 3-year-old will be pointed toward either the $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 29 or the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 30, according to the Daily Racing Form.

Trainer Chad Brown says he will wait until after the Memorial Day weekend to announce where Preakness winner Cloud Computing will run next.  However, it appears likely that he will run in the Belmont.

The Belmont field is limited to 16 starters.  Horses expected include Conquest, Mo Money, Japan-based Epicharis, Gormley, Irap, J Boys Echo, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, Multiple, Patch and Senior Investment.

Associated Press

Derby Winner Classic Empire (?)

The Cincinnati Enquirer began as the Cincinnati Commercial in the mid-1800's and survived the shake-out of our two afternoon daily newspapers, The Cincinnati Post and The Cincinnati Times Star. It was a proud newspaper with a great tradition and a conservative editorial board.  But with the advent of online resources the Enquirer, like many other newspapers, began cutting costs to make up for lost revenue and increased costs.  The Enquirer isn't even printed in Cincinnati anymore, it is printed in Columbus and is now owned by the USA Today group.

The paper staggers beneath the weight of change, but never is its decline more evident than in the quality of its editing.  There are grammatical and syntax errors and this unedited news wire story makes you wonder about the accuracy of stories that are of substantially more significance than this 
collection of misbegotten prose.

So I wrote the following email to Jason Hoffman, the sports editor.


Of course by now you know that it was Always Dreaming who won the Kentucky Derby and not Classic Empire as reported in today's Enquirer.  Over the past several years I have been disappointed by the quality of editing at the Enquirer.  This egregious error is just another reason why newspapers straddle a fine line between relevance and obsolescence.  It makes no difference that the blurb about Classic Empire and the Belmont may have been sourced from the Associated Press, the error should have been caught.

As a writer of articles that primarily deal with horses and horse racing, I am always careful to make certain my facts are in order, and I have an editor that demands that accuracy.  We rely on you to bring us sports news that is accurate and not merely laughable.

And in all fairness I have to report the presence of egg on my face, because in my haste to dash off this email to Mr. Hoffman,  I typed "...Always Dreaming who one," when I meant Always Dreaming who "won" the Kentucky Derby.  lol.

By the way, The Enquirer did not respond to my email.

Wearing the symbol of his Kentucky Derby win, Always Dreaming.

Copyright June 6, 2017 by Loren Schumacher
Photo copyrights belong to the photographers
Derby Winner Classic Empire skipping Belmont by the Associated Press and published by The Cincinnati Enquirer on May 37, 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wild Dayrell

The three foundation sires of the modern Thoroughbred date to Byerly Turk, 1680, Darley Arabian, 1704 and Godolphin Arabian in 1729.  Wild Dayrell, an English Thoroughbred foaled in 1852, was just six generations removed from Herod and eight from Godolphin Arabian.  He was the product of the union of Ellen Middleton, a horse purchased for 50** guineas and the runner up in the Epson Derby of 1838, Ion.  A photo of Wild Dayrell taken in 1855, the year he was retired, is the earliest known photographic image of a Thoroughbred.

Wild Dayrell in 1855

The Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Canberra, Australia) of Friday, September 14, 1855 described him this way:
"He is a rich brown horse, standing sixteen hands one inch high of immense power, he has a good lean head, rather long arched neck (compare to paintings of the Godolphin Arabian), good shoulder, great depth of girth (69 inches), immense ribs, and very powerful strong muscular quarters, immense arms (?), gaskins, knees, and hocks and is very short from knee to ground.  If anything, he is a little "in" at the elbows, and his toes turn outward.  He has no white about him and "take him all in all," is one of the finest specimens of a race horse that has been seen for years."  It looks like he might be "sickle hocked" as well, but it could just be the way he is standing.

His breeder, Francis Popham of Littlecote House in Wiltshire, had no prior experience in breeding horses, nor did his "trainer," John Rickaby, Popham's "hunting groom." Throughout his brief but successful racing career, Wild Dayrell was dogged by the public's opinion that he had been "trained by a gardener."

Wild Dayrell's name is the stuff of local legends in Wiltshire.  It is said to stem from the murder of an illegitimate child.  Its unthinkable death came at the hands of one of Popham's male forbears named Darrell.  The child was first thrown into an open fire at Littlecote House.  When it somehow escaped the flames, the baby was thrown onto the fireplace grate where it died.  A scorned husband could leave no evidence of a woman's infidelity it seems.

Wild Dayrell was sold as a yearling for 100 guineas, with an extra 500 guineas to be paid should the colt win the Epsom Derby.  The purchaser was John Kent, the agent for Lord Henry Lennox, the son of the Duke of Richmond.  These people traveled in lofty circles.

As a two-year old in 1854 he was repurchased by Popham for 250 guineas after proving himself "backward and immature."  Popham sold a share in Dayrell to Lord Craven and on September 27, 1854 the horse easily won by two lengths a three-horse sweepstakes at Newmarket, beating horses named Hazel and Para.  In winning, Wild Dayrell so impressed onlookers that he was installed as a contender for the following year's Epsom Derby.

After turning down a 3000 British pound bid for the horse by Baron Meyer de Rothschild, his owners stepped up the pressure, racing him in a private trial just 10 days before the 1855 Derby, where he soundly defeated three rivals, including a classy colt by the name of Jack Shepherd, while giving away 21 pounds to his three rivals.

What followed is the stuff of Hollywood. Gamblers and bookmakers feared loosing a small fortune should Wild Dayrell win the Derby.  A member of Popham's staff was let go for acting "suspiciously" and the horse was put under guard.  There is more.  The horse-box (trailer) hired to transport the colt was sabotaged and collapsed when it was pulled by a bullock.  Then a 5000 British pound bribe was offered to Popham and Lord Craven, which they refused,

The even money favorite against an eleven horse field that included the 2000 Guineas winner, Lord of the Isles at 7/4.  Stalking the leader Kingstown, Dayrell made his move just a furlong from the finish, winning by a length from Kingstown with Lord of the Isles finishing third.   Lord Craven made a killing on the outcome, winning 10,000 British pounds, While Lord Craven cashed in, Dayrell emerged from the race lame in the left front, most likely because of the course's firm turf.  His unfortunate injury would resurface later.

He won in a lark at York in the "Ebor St. Leger" over a well thought of colt named Oulston.  He was next entered in the Doncaster Cup, a race of two and a half miles.   While he was the favorite and gave away seven pounds to his rivals, he came to the post with heavily bandaged legs.  He pulled up lame, failing to finish for the first time and suffering his only defeat.  A short while later he was retired and first stood at Littlecote for 30 guineas, where he sired many winners including his daughter, Hurricane, the 1000 Guinea winner of 1862 and Atlantic, the 1874 winner of the 2000 Guineas.

Wild Dayrell died where he was born, at Littlecote in November 1879.  He was 27.

One writer said of him, "There is no saying how good as a race horse he really was," because he was never truly tested.

Compare if you will, the photo of Wild Dayrell to Thoroughbreds of more recent vintage:

The beautiful Practical Joke.

The incomparable American Pharoah.

Regardless of who wins the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 6, 2017, we wish horses and riders alike a safe trip and God's speed.

** A historical currency calculator gave me the buying power in current US dollars and these are the results.

30 guineas, Dayrell's opening stud fee:  $3507.00 in today's dollars.

50 guineas, purchase price for Ellen Middleton: $5844.00 in today's dollars.

100 guineas, Dayrell's original selling price: $11,689.00 in today's dollars.

250 guineas, price Popham paid to repurchase Dayrell: $29,244.00 in today's dollars.

3000 British pounds, price offered by Baron de Rothschild for Dayrell: $333,999.00 in today's dollars.

5000 British pounds, bribe offered Popham to pull Dayrell from the Epsom Derby: $556,666.00 in today's dollars.

10,000 British pounds, Lord Craven's winnings at the Epsom Derby: $1,033,338.00

These numbers would be enough to save Downton Abbey!

Copyright May 4, 2017 by Loren Schumacher
Copyrights for all photos belong to the photographer

Monday, February 13, 2017

...step off the sidewalk.

"For the record, we were NOT lost-not after we figured out we'd dropped two miles and 1,500 vertical feet in the wrong direction in a near-whiteout."   Just a postcard from the edge. a near-whiteout."

To be honest, I really don't know Steve Woodruff well.  He is the friend of a friend.  What I know of him comes from our brief and infrequent digital correspondence and his photographs.  But we do share a love of horses and the outdoor life.  And for me, that's enough.

Montana is fly-over country.  It is the hyphen that connects the urban centers of the east and west coasts.  The graceful neck around which hang the pearls.  There are just over a million people living in Montana.  Compare that with Ohio, where I live, and its population of nearly twelve million souls.  There are few homesteads, outposts in a sea of grass, and fewer cars.  The wind gathers up what is not secured and pushes it for mile upon mile until a taut fence line catches up what it can. Tumbleweed, just Russian Thistle really, torn from the thin soil rushes about madly just ahead of the wind.  And there is water, cold water and cutthroat trout, elk and deer, the larder of past times.  Foxes raise their generations, while buzzards make death pristine and hawks deal with the problem of over population.  There is still more in the jagged granite peaks, creeks that tumble white over their rocky paths, and rolling meadows of purple and yellow blooms rife with long grass,sweet and green.

Steve, you see, is not afraid to step off the sidewalk, to peer through the hedges, to look up and down country.  He fishes for trout in cold fast running streams and scours the tussocks for pheasant along with his two yellow labs, and rides his good horse Ranger along narrow paths into a wider, wilder world.

There is an intimacy and warmth in Steve's photographs.  However, in many of the photographs, survival and not the animal is the real subject. No matter the animal and no matter its size, all of them face deep snow, brutal cold and solitary searches for food that never end.  For the most part, leisure and a full stomach are unknown in the animal world.  

Steve has graciously allowed me to use his photographs.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.  

First, the horses:

Ranger in a sea of grass.  Notice his muscle mass.

 Zimba's Partial Eclipse
My favorite of all the horse photos.

Zimba is Ranger's pasture buddy.

Ranger patrolling the fence line.

From the field:


If Today Could Last Forever.
This is achingly beautiful and almost moves me to tears.

Rough-Legged Hawk

Coyote and Hitchhiking Magpie

In order to subjugate the Plains Indians we nearly
hunted the Bison to extinction.  When that didn't work, we rounded up
their horses and killed them all.

Bull Elk

Great Blue Heron on the Bitterroot River

Magpie in the Snow
Magpies are ubiquitous.  And everywhere too!

Winter on the Mountain

Day's End

All photos by Steve Woodruff,  Copyright 2/13/17

Text and captions by Loren Schumacher, Copyright 2/13/17

Sunday, January 1, 2017

In The Rear View: 2016

Maybe it's because I don't have the best eyesight, that I love to look at pictures.  Life in stop action, every detail frozen in time to be savored, to be examined in your own good time.  I've collected photographs since I can remember and the computer, a treasure trove of digitized images, has given me a resource that I could never have imagined and at a price that anyone can afford.

 Horses satisfy our souls, elevate our spirit and stir our hearts and let's not forget the human beings who ride them, the courageous men and woman who risk their lives to do the one thing that few can, ride a thoroughbred gate to wire faster than the rest.

These are just a few of the photos I've collected in the past year, 2016.  Perhaps one of these horses is a favorite of yours.  I hope so.

First, a remembrance or two and some wistful goodbyes.

Trainer Richard Mandela saying goodbye to Beholder

Cigar 15 days before his death.

Lady's Secret, the Hall of Fame daughter of Secretariat.

Secretariat is better known for his fillies and mares than his male progeny, an exception is Tinner's Way, now a resident of Old Friends Equine in Georgetown, Kentucky.  While she is deceased, Lady's Secret's record remains.

Arguably the greatest thoroughbred of all time, this is Secretariat in 1973, his legendary Triple Crown year.  This photo was taken by famed photographer Barbara Livingston when she was twelve years old.

The late Garrett Gomez aboard the incredible Beholder.

Speaking of Beholder, six year old Beholder ( 8) with Gary Stevens up, defeats three year old Songbird (1) and Mike Smith by a scant nose in the 2016 Breeders Cup Distaff.

Beholder was retired to Spendthrift Farm in Lexington after winning the Distaff in perhaps the greatest horse race anyone has ever seen.  Her first suitor in February will be the great Uncle Mo.

Earlier I mentioned the danger in horse racing and the courage of the jockeys.

Aiden Coleman falls with Mick Thonic at Cheltenham, England in late 2016.

Northside Downs, North Sydney, Australia.  A catastrophic wreck in which everyone, horses and drivers survived, although one of the drivers was hospitalized.

Lest we forget the ladies.

Chantal Sutherland

Chantal Sutherland has been a very successful jockey in her home country, Canada.  She always ranks among the leading jockeys at Woodbine.  She has had more difficulty finding rides and owner/trainer support in the states, but is currently riding at Santa Anita  Here she is seen aboard Coasted, a contender for the 2016 Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf 

Chantal was once the paramour of Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith and was featured in the realty series,Jockeys, which ran for two seasons.  Her rocky relationship with Smith was the focal point of the series and when the break-up came between them, the series ended. The two were lovers and roommates and the series' tension was driven by the dichotomy of her love for Smith versus his ego and unwillingness to commit to the Canadian beauty.  His loss.

Afterward she married and had a child, retired and began a career unrelated to horse racing, but she simply could not stay away and she has returned to her first love, racing.

Nicole Vuille, an Australian jockey whom I became aware of through Facebook.  Click on the photo and see that she is screaming.  I would have been too.

It has been a year of retirements, too.

Frosted in a lather.

Frosted (Tapit x Fast Cookie) needs no one to apologize for his sterling career. He was always a threat whenever he raced.  Wherever there was racing, Frosted and his connections were there, be it in Dubai, Kentucky, Maryland, New York or California.  He raced the life out of a tired American Pharoah at Saratoga, but he seemed to have a problem carrying his speed to the finish in some of the longer route races.  But his record setting effort in the 2016 Met Mile (1:32.73), winning by 14 1/2 lengths, was a historic achievement and his victory has been judged the premier racing performance of the year.  He is retired now and I think racing is poorer for it.  I will try to see him at Godolphin's Jonabelle this year.

The haughty visage of Tourist (Tiznow x Unbridled Melody x Unbridled's Song).

This is Tourist, who defeated the favorite, Tepin, in the 2016 Breeder's Cup Mile.  In the same race in 2014 he finished 13th and 8th in 2015.   Look at the hard set of his eye.  I imagine that this horse can be a handful if you don't stay on top of him and after seeing him act up during a workout prior to the Breeder's Cup, my suspicions were confirmed.  I believe that Frosted would have easily bested Tourist in the BC Mile.

It was a year of early retirements, adding credibility to what we already knew, that stallions and mares are chattel to be used as cash generating breeding machines, until they can no longer perform or are too old and fragile to bear a foal.  

Nyquist ( Uncle Mo x Seeking Gabrielle ) was never right after winning the Derby this year. Mysterious illnesses plagued him off and on and his performances suffered.  His connections sited a "growth spurt."  He is recovering nicely at Godolphin's Jonabelle farm after recent colic surgery!

Ironicus, the middle distance turf horse by Distorted Humor was retired to Claiborne Farm.  In the last two years the five year old won 5 of 10 races with 4 second place finishes.

Tamarkuz (x Speightstown) won the BC Dirt Mile in 2016 with Mike Smith aboard.  The five year old began his career in Great Britain before heading to Dubai and then the U.S.  A winner of 8 of 20 starts with additional placings, Tamakuz won nearly two million dollars and will spend retirement at Sheikh Handen's Shadwell in Kentucky.

Run Happy

Known as much for his hilarious sleep habits as his speed, Run Happy was retired to Claiborne Farms after finishing 8th in the BC Dirt Mile as a four year old.  He was undefeated in sprint races and was 6 for 7 as a three year old, winning an Eclipse Award as Champion Male Sprinter. 

But in the present and recent past there more than enough equine heroes to capture our attention and our hearts.

After American Pharoah and Frosted, my personal favorite is the Candy Ride colt, Gun Runner.  This is a  horse that can never be counted out and while he may not be Arrogate, he brings grit, guts and determination to every starting gate.  In 11 starts he has 6 wins, 2 seconds and 2 thirds, among them a win in the G1 Clark Handicap in November.  He is a possible starter in the Pegasus, where he will acquit himself with his usual maximum effort.  Did I mention that I love this horse?

My guy, Gun Runner.

And here are a few more still racing in the present or in out hearts.

California Chrome will race anyone, anywhere, anytime.  He will be retired to Taylor Made after the Pegasus.

Courage and speed to spare, Arrogate with Dana Barnes up.  He was scratched from the San Pasqual
stakes (GII) on New Year's day, due to wet track conditions.  Trainer Bob Baffert felt that Arrogate was not mature enough to test the Triple Crown waters, so as a late bloomer, he is a super-horse in training,

Effinex, post race, with lightening in his veins.  His eyes appear almost glazed and vacant.  He is spent after giving everything.

Two words: American Pharoah.  Nothing more needs to be said.

And I've saved the best for last (If you don't count American Pharoah.).

My paint mare, Callie (Calliope)

This is my beautiful girl fresh from a bath, but still wearing a dirty face, courtesy of a weed in our pasture that goes dormant every fall.  At fourteeen Callie has never been able to give everything that she has to offer because of a chronic navicular problem, aggravated by her foot stomping fly dance during the summer.  I hope to give her relief this year with two injections of Osphos, a drug whose specific purpose is to relieve navicular distress.  The drug can lead to colic, so I have every finger crossed.

She is unbelievably powerful, a bit stubborn and given to atmospheric bucking when her thoughts on an issue go unresolved.  I have never ridden a horse that is so responsive.  You have only to stay centered on her long back and think about what you want from her. 

Callie is playful, winding up my other mare, Stormy Monday, whenever she takes a notion to.  She is loving and affectionate and I can only hope that Osphos will be a blessing to my good and kind friend. Oh yes, she likes to eat and will defend her vittles from her domineering sister, long as there is a gate between them.

Callie makes the world a better place.


Her name fits her. Stormy, my pint sized registered paint horse, thinks, connives, remembers and gets even.  She is a second hand rose that no one could do anything with, but she was looking for someone to trust, someone strong enough to endow with the title of herd leader.  Though she never stops testing me and never will, I've gained her trust and that means a lot to me.

Stormy is difficult to ride, her trot is killing, because she has a short wheelbase, but her slow canter is worth whatever the cost might be.  To watch her canter or gallop freely is like watching Astaire and Rogers, or Gene Kelly in Singing In The Rain on the silver screen.  She is that graceful.  Stormy needs an experienced rider, but if the rider begins to daydream, there is a price to pay.  The price, she assumes you are no longer in control and so she must be.  Stormy will tolerate no passengers.  

As I said, she can be difficult and quite often her eyes are as hard and edgy as they appear in her picture. Romance her, but don't bribe her and she will be putty in your hands. Well, you can bribe her just a little if it makes you feel better.  If she knew how predictable and funny she is she would be mortified.  There is no other like her and I am glad for that.

Copyright, January 1, 2017 by Loren R. Schumacher

Photograph credits as noted, or photos in the public domain.
Callie and Stormy Photographs, Copyright, Loren R. Schumacher, January 1, 2017