Vegas raced today at Woodbine. He’s had a history of bad luck, and got a late start as a racehorse. But he’s an awesome horse to watch gallop. The jockey commented after this race that he “ran green”. Which just means that he was a bit confused and unsure about what was happening, so wasn’t very focused. But he doesn’t look bad here at all and ended up a strong fifth. He’s the 10 horse in pink/purple silks.
Here’s a video of Parker’s (Danish Spirit) race yesterday. He ended up 4th, so he did manage to bring home a small pay cheque anyway. Everyone was quite happy with him. He went over to the paddock calmly, and went into the gate well. He can be a bit excitable, and last time out he was scratched due to a gate incident (got himself tangled up after being loaded and had a few superficial cuts). So there was a bit of worry that he’d remember that. But he was good.
Parker is Reno’s eldest brother. Out of Freckles (Fresh Believer), the mare we lost after Reno was born, and by Alphabet Soup. He’s a bright, flashy chestnut with a wide freckly blaze and big, kind eyes. Quite a sweet horse, even when racing fit. Like his mama was.
Well, we lost our old girl… Queen Dot. She was 24 years old and has had colic off and on for the last couple of days. The vet let her go today.
Dot was crazy. There is no way to soft pedal that. Back in her racehorse days, she had to have her own pet goat. When Dot won a race and went to the test barn afterwards, someone had to make an emergency run for Natasha the goat. Dot would not calm down until that goat was there. She didn’t like flat bed trucks, and would start weaving crazily in her stall when the feed truck pulled up. Loud music bothered her, so radios had to be turned off. She was claustrophobic, so instead of a closed stall door they often just left a stall guard across the doorway.
But for all the craziness, Dot was well-liked by everyone who knew her, and loved quite intensely by her groom. She was kind and very gentle. And she won races. Twelve of them in fact. She was a front runner, and as a handsome grey with a big stride, I’d bet she was glorious to watch. She was quite lovely even in her twenties with her long white tail streaming behind her as she galloped around the pastures with the younger mares.
Dot was claimed in her last race and sent off to be a broodmare. She had at least nine foals, and when she was retired, the breeding farm sold her to her old groom for $1. Corinne brought her to my boss, who had been Dot’s trainer, to retire her. She’s been running with the broodmare band ever since. We let her live out, the way she wanted to do. She’d come in for meals, but we had to leave her stall door open so she could amble up and down the aisles peering in at the other horses (rather smugly, I always suspected), then darting back into her stall to grab another mouthful of feed. She liked to drool feed over my head when she had the chance. And escape out of gates that you just left open for a split second to bring a wheelbarrow through. Once loose, she’d cavort around the courtyard, chortling at the futile human efforts to catch her. Crafty old mare.
It won’t be the same without her.
There are glowing reports trickling home on Jasper’s progress at Woodbine. He’s the big lunkhead of a three-year old who went to the track a few weeks ago for the first time. He is Monster’s (yep that bad little two-year old who jumped on my head) older brother. A big, lanky grey gelding (for some of the same reasons that Monster is soon to be a gelding!).
Word is that Jasper is behaving like a superstar. He’s doing everything he’s asked for with no fuss at all. And apparently is already looking more fit and toned. He was shedrowed the other day (ridden around the aisle that wraps around the outside of the stalls) and acted like a pro, just ambling around totally unconcerned. He’s rapidly turning himself into everyone’s favourite. Today he went out on the big track and was perfectly behaved.
We always kind of thought he’d love being at the track, since he likes being in a stall, loves to have lots of activity around him to watch, and enjoys working. But we also all sort of worried about the fact that he’s a big cement head. I used to joke about him “being his head”. By which I meant that he was always totally unaware of the rest of his body. It just trailed around after his head, careening off doorways and people. Proprioception is the technical term for the sense of knowing where your limbs are. Jasper had pretty much NO proprioception after being on stall rest almost from birth (due to a fracture in his shoulder at seven days old) until he was a year old. I guess he’s figured that out now though!
Yesterday our racehorses at work all shipped down to Woodbine for the beginning of the racing season. Seven of them are experienced racehorses. But Jasper is brand new to the big time.
He loaded up on the trailer with no real fuss. His eyes were big, and he zigzagged a bit in apprehension. But he loaded up and stood quietly. I heard later that he’d handled the trip fine, and unloaded calmly at the track. The biggest issue was that he thought it was completely CRAZY to have his hay tied up in a net hanging outside his stall gate.
He went out this morning for his first tour of the place. To the sand ring, which is quieter and slower than the big track or the training track. My boss tells me that he was absolutely fabulous. He went with Soupy (an older, and very calm mare) and jogged around about half a dozen times. Three horses cantered past at one point, and he got a bit alarmed and stopped. But otherwise he never put a foot wrong.
Jasper is a bit of an interesting case. When he was seven days old, he fractured his shoulder. No one saw it happen. He just came in lame from the pasture. He had to be kept on stall rest until he was a year old. He tormented his mother constantly while she was still in the stall with him. She was so sick of him by the time he was weaned that she never called to him even once when they were separated.
When he arrived at the farm (from the foaling farm), he was the scrawniest, weediest looking little guy ever. His head was much too big for his body. He’d been kept on very short rations to try to keep his energy level below explosive. So he was quite underweight.
Once he was cleared to be turned out (carefully), we started feeding him more. And he grew. And grew. And grew some more. He’s three now. And over 17hh. Grey. With a great huge long stride. He doesn’t look particularly fast when you watch him gallop. Too big, and too long-strided to give you an impression of speed. It will be fun to see how he comes along as he gets fitter though.