Saturday May 6th 2006. It was the day I saw the Kentucky Derby won by the horse who was going to become the first Triple Crown winner in 29 years. The unbeaten, stunningly handsome, bright bay beauty Barbaro completely laughed at his Derby competition, as he trounced the field by a facile 6 1/2 lengths. It was immediately clear that this was a creature who was on a very different level to the three previous gallant Triple Crown contenders I had flown across the country from California to Belmont Park to cheer on. And Barbaro's running style and physique told me that the mile and a half of the Belmont Stakes would be a positive, not a negative. This fella had Triple Crown Winner stamped all over him.
Nestled among the rolling hills of Woodford County in Central Kentucky are some of the most prestigious Thoroughbred farms in the world. Farms like Lane's End, Three Chimneys, Airdrie Stud and WinStar all call Woodford County home. There are also many smaller farms that call Woodford County home, and as you drive the beautiful fence-lined back roads of the county you will see their horses grazing in pastures that stretch as far as the eye can see. As winter melts away and spring brings warmer weather, many of those...
His biography for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame calls him the horse that “time forgot”, as Kentucky was not inducted into this beloved shrine until 1983. It also claims he is “arguably the greatest son of Lexington ever inducted into the Hall.” Though that is certainly a matter up for debate, especially with Lexington’s prowess in the breeding shed, it cannot be denied Kentucky is a well-deserving member of this select circle of Thoroughbred icons.
Intelligence. That is the quality that separates good horses from champions, Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, is fond of saying. Horses with a lot of intelligence are the ones to watch because they will become great champions. Two horses Blowen says had a lot of intelligence are past Old Friends' retirees, Precisionist and Black Tie Affair. Gulch was the same said Blowen. "You could tell Gulch was an intelligent horse the moment he stepped off the van when he arrived at Old Friends. He had a spark in his eye and was completely aware of his surroundings. He held his head high in regal fashion, but he was not arrogant or mean spirited. Still, on his arrival that day, he was letting people know 'I am here. I am a champion.' "
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