Equicurean The Horses, The People, The Lifestyle SUMMER 2010
Photo provided by John Fulton Bloodstock
Equicurean 2010 | 3
Publisher Chad Beatty Editorial Director Marion E. Altieri
Equicurean The Horses, The People, The Lifestyle
General Manager Robin Mitchell Art Director Tiffany Garland Advertising Chris Bushee Cindy Durfey Pre-Press Coordinator Sam Bolles Contributing Photographers Creative Photo and Graphic Sharon Castro Photography Stock Studios Photography Head Writer Marion E. Altieri Constributing Writers Bob Bullock Helen Susan Edelman Ruth Fein Wallens Copy Proofreader Anne Proulx Printing Fry Communications, Inc. Published by Saratoga Publishing, LLC Five Case Street Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 tel: 518.581.2480 fax: 518.581.2487 saratogatodayonline.com Equicurean is brought to you by Saratoga Publishing, LLC. All information contained within this publication is based on data collected from a variety of sources at the time of publication. Saratoga Publishing, LLC shall make every effort to avoid errors and omissions but disclaims any responsibility should they occur. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent of the publisher Copyright (c) 2010, Saratoga Publishing, LLC
Cover photos by: Sharon Castro Photography
4 | Equicurean 2010
Lights, Camera, Auction
Selected Yearling Sales 2010
The Arabian Horse
Ride, Sallee, Ride
Festival of Racing
For many of us, horses are the reason why we get up in the morning. We're up to muck a stall, feed and workout, or to stand at that famed rail, pen and paper in-hand. We keep these hours because we love horses utterly and completely: we cannot imagine life without them. Working on Equicurean has been a labor of love, with people I treasure. Horses are my passion, and our Publisher gave me free rein to explore—a great gift, indeed. As I sit in our office next to FasigTipton Saratoga, I note that, as Equicurean was taking shape, finding its voice—our renowned neighbors similarly were reshaping their lovely property, making it even more spectacular. Final dabs of paint are being applied to the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion even as we put the magazine to bed. It has been a privilege to work with so many bright, lively, creative people, from the marketing team at Fasig-Tipton to my dear friends here at Saratoga Publishing. Space allowing, I'd thank each person by name: if it takes a village to raise a horse, surely a community came together to foal this new equine magazine. I am blessed beyond measure. Thank you for reading our new baby, Equicurean—we hope you love what we've made as much as we loved making it. Success to you this Saratoga meet, whatever your vocation—and thank you for giving us the opportunity to live out our own racing dreams. Marion E. Altieri Hair & Editorial Director
Makeup by Ann-Marie Flores
Equicurean 2010 | 5
Fasig-Tipto Incomparable Beauty Built on Eternal Values Photos by ÂŠstockstudiosphotography.com
2010 brings with it a rebirth that will quietly announce the arrival of world-class horse sales in the Spa City. There is no other facility to rival it in the world. Visitors to the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga facility will be delighted when they arrive on the property for the 2010 Sales. Last year's workâ€”the calming waterwall, buyers' lounge, brightened barn areas and new walking ring joined hands with a fivestar restaurant and bright copper roofing. What else could be done to improve on such a grand achievement?
6 | Equicurean 2010
ton Saratoga Susan Zehnder and Ben Palmer-Ball of idea source of Louisville are those who are entrusted with the sacred mission of taking the vision held by Fasig-Tipton and turning it into tangible, workable beauty. With careful consideration and insight, they created a space that is not only appealing, but which remains faithful to the original intended use of the buildings and grounds. To marry the virtues of safety, beauty, respect and vision to the practical jobs of making a space that is workable for horses, horsemen and the community is a tremendous job. A demanding job, an assignment that can be filled only by those who fully understand the inner processes of those for whom they work. Saratoga Springs' own Mike Ingersoll and the LA Group were at the literal and figurative foundation of the project: without their insight and ability to share the visionâ€”the
project would not have realized the client's dreams and expectations. Working with Sonny Bonacio and Bonacio Construction (employing local workers and buying local materials) Zehnder and Palmer-Ball made a blueprint for revitalization without intrusive, angular modernization. The Mid-Century Modern facilities are brought fully into the 21st Century, losing none of the original appreciation for pragmatism that is perfectly wed to the simple, organic allure of equine majesty. The 112-year-old establishment is steeped in history, none of which is forgotten nor cast aside. Even as contemporary, green materials are being fitted in consideration of codes and practical needs, the overarching goal of showing respect for the horses and humans who use the buildings and grounds is achieved in spades. No stone is
Equicurean 2010 | 7
left unturned, no measure of beauty or comfort is overlooked. Fasig-Tipton is bringing the ancient endeavour of horse sales fully into this century, while keeping one foot firmly planted in tradition. Fasig-Tipton is assured not only of success on the nights of the Sales, but also in the arena of international public opinion. The first, most obvious change is that the Pavilion has been completely and perfectly renovated. Re-created, actually. More comfortable seating takes the place of the crowded, cramped red seats and suffocating aisle space. The scratched and worn plexiglass that formed the perimeter wall is no more: in its place are materials so bright and clean that they appear to be invisible. The new windows allow the inside of the room to feel part of the Nature outside the new front door. Trees, blue skies and the west end of the Oklahoma have become a mural for those seated inside. Truly, the new half-circle and clearly-defined entryway is Fasig-Tipton's front door to the community. The heating and air conditioning systems are brand new, allowing for use of the building in the wintertime. The acoustics and sound system are state-of-the-art: the cacoph-
8 | Equicurean 2010
ony with which guests had become accustomed over the years is gone. The building itself cooperates with the requirement to soothe both the horses being sold and those who bid on them. The Intersection of Vision, Form and Function... The architectural principle that Form Follows Function seems to be based on pragmatic advice: let the shape and style, the angles and materials, be dictated by the intended use of a proposed facility. A sensible directive, a formula that guarantees success. Vision is at the helm for both Fasig-Tipton and idea source: all decisions, even those directing nails and mortar, lumber and copper, must be based on the foundation of the owners' vision of creating the most prestigious, forward-thinking equine auction house on Earth. Just as important is the value that the facility must be a place of quiet reassurance and unspeakable beautyâ€”reflections of the owners' respect for those who will use the East Avenue spaces. And respect is a word that, when genuinely executed, can open doors and build bridges. Those from divergent cultures and morĂŠs can do business in an environment of trust when everyone involved has respect as a best practice.
Equicurean 2010 | 9
...the calming waterwall, buyers' lounge, brightened barn areas and new walking ring... Civil engineers are concerned about function, but without a deep understanding of the origins of the word itself, every structure would be a solid, workable unit built solely of steel and cement. The root word of function comes from Latin, but Merriam-Webster reports that the spirit of the concept is of Sanskrit: bhukte, the kindred sound, means, "he enjoys." And spirit is the dwelling place of form, as any student of Plato will confirm.
10 | Equicurean 2010
The idea that function is tied from its very beginning to the ideal of enjoyment is the core of the Fasig-Tipton vision. Function is inseparable from respect for the horses and humans who will use the facilities. The enjoyment—deep, abiding pleasure—of all who walk onto the property—is the underlying message. This is the function that informs the architects and workers who give the vision its tangible shape. This is the place at which Art meets Business: a house built on Vision, a far-more enduring foundation than concrete, itself. Fasig-Tipton throws open the doors, and welcomes all. The world is watching the facilities, activities, horses and people doing business (and the Business of Life) in Saratoga in August 2010—and the world will be appropriately impressed, if not openly envious.
The 112-year-old establishment is steeped in history, none of which is forgotten nor cast aside. Equicurean 2010 | 11
12 | Equicurean 2010
AUCTION! 2009 Sales Generated Excitement in New Showcase Facility Photos Courtesy of Fasig-Tipton The renewed Fasig-Tipton facilities wed form to function in a fashion that is heretofore unknown in the world of equine sales. The beautiful new buildings and rejuvenated grounds sparkled under the best-possible, exquisitely-engineered, non-invasive lighting. The horses shone as never before as they make their debuts 'neath copper roofs in freshlypainted walking rings, their juvenile hooves treading gently on a bed of rubber "cobblestone" walkways. When Fasig-Tipton set to work the day after Labor Day in 2008. the goal was to create a facility unlike any other in the world. Their labors came to fruition on August 10th, 2009, when the reborn property was unveiled on the first night of the Saratoga Sales. The Saratoga property had truly been transformed into a welcoming and gracious environment. This gift to the city and to the industryâ€”a space that is functionally and aesthetically far superior to the previous incarnationâ€”conjured an atmosphere that is reminiscent of a Peter Lorrey film. The first night of the Yearling Sales was electric with anticipation as patrons and rubberneckers alike breathlessly took in the lush Boston ferns; fresh, green barns; new walking ring; second-floor lounge and waterwall which seemingly flowed from the feet of elegant patrons. The lighting was perfect, the result of studying the psychology of appropriate lighting for every square foot of the buildings and grounds. The Adirondack skies reflected back the light of equine and human stars on East Avenue. The wonderment of this amusement park for horselovers and the uber-rich answered the question, "How could a place so serene and quiet in its design, generate
Equicurean 2010 | 13
Jane Lyons addresses the press
enough watts to light up Giants' Stadium?" The ambience managed to perform double duty: complementing the businessat-hand without distracting, while at the same time providing a comfortable, beautiful environment for all concerned. The major concern—how would horse sales fare in the wake of a dwindling economy—dissolved with each stroke of the gavel. The horses were the cream of the crop, literally: well turned-out, well-conditioned and mature, most entered the staging area with aplomb and great grace—indicators of self-awareness and ability to focus on their future jobs. Leading sires for the sale included Storm Cat, sire of Hip No. 204. On a Storm, out of the Mr. P. mare, Onaga, was the high bid of the two days. John Ferguson bought the dark bay/brown colt for his client, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. On a Storm weighed in at $2,800,000, the highest price of the two days. His Highness was in attendance both nights, quietly moving about the backyard yet adding to the electricity by his mere presence. Bernardini was also a hot property sire, as his progeny—especially the fillies—brought in extremely high prices. In grocery terms, Bernardini babies were flying off the shelves at prices such as $1.2 million and $1.4 million. Medaglia d'Oro, whose top six earners to date
14 | Equicurean 2010
are fillies, came in third place: no doubt the wild success of his spectacular daughter, Rachel Alexandra, influenced the hopes and dreams of those in the bidding wars. Rachel Alexandra was voted Horse of the Year in January 2010, an award which may bear some weight again in this year's Sales ring. The 2009 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sales were the first indicator for many, the sign that the recession would eventually fade and that the horse industry can exhale. Horses played an irreplaceable role in the forging of America and the culture thereof. Once again, the horses are leading the way, pointing toward economic growth; renewed spirit and encouragement for anyone within the glow of their sparkling coats. Fasig-Tipton and the insightful owners have faith in the future of the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Once again, Fasig-Tipton is poised to lead the way to the growth of the sport. The gavel hit the desk on East Avenue, and the verdict was, "Sold!"
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum inspects Hip No. 204 at the 2009 auction
Fasig-Tipton Saratoga 2009 by the Numbers Number of horses sold: Gross Revenue: Average Price:
160 $52,549,500 $328,434
Up 31.1% from 2008 Up 45.6% from 2008 Up 11% from 2008
2009 Leading Sires: Storm Cat Low: Average:
Sold 4 $325,000 $1,027,500
John Ferguson, agent, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 12 Horses $11,850,000
Bernardini Low: Average:
Sold 10 $230,000 $635,000
John Sallusto, agent, International Equine Acquisitions Holdings, Inc. (IEAH) 6 Horses $ 2,150,000
Medaglia d'Oro Low: Average:
Sold 8 $250,000 $610,714
Leading Buyers by Gross:
Shadwell Estate Co. Ltd. 5 Horses
Leading Consignors by Gross: Taylor Made Sales Agency Offered 32, Sold 23 $7,627,000 Lane's End Offered 13, Sold 11 $7,570,000 Eaton Sales Offered 22, Sold 18 $5,480,000
Equicurean 2010 | 15
Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings 2010: Royalty in our Midst? Each of the 202 yearlings occupying the dark green barns at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga has earned the right to occupy their respective stalls, and to walk that famed stage. All shiny and new—each are polished to a high gloss, manes trimmed, for their big debuts. Every single horse who struts into the Pavilion has more potential than any other Thoroughbred on Earth. A heavy thought, indeed. They are, after all, the Selected Yearlings for Fasig-Tipton's renowned Saratoga Sale—the most prestigious horse auction house, the most important sales on Earth. What will 2010 bring? We know about the highest bidders and most sought-after sires of 2009. Medaglia d'Oro has seven colts and four fillies this year: is another Rachel Alexandra in the mix? Will Horse of the Year for 2012 grace our presence? Empire Maker, the big, gorgeous hunk of horse who stole the Triple Crown from Funny Cide in a driving rain in 2003 is represented by four fillies. Afleet Alex has but one colt and one filly— but oh, the possibilities. The lucky purchaser may well get a horse who has the guts and spirit to "do an Alex." Alex won the Preakness in 2005, just seconds after he nearly went head-over-heels on the track—yet picked himself up, lost not a second. That was the moment that showed him to be a Thoroughbred of extraordinary gifts. Another horse might have gone down, taking seven others headlong into the equine ambulance. Disaster could have ensued—but Alex was a man on a mission. His name was sealed in gold that day, for that one second in time when he looked Death in the eye—and literally did not blink. The next Kentucky Derby winner, or—dare we hope?—a Triple Crown king or queen—may be one year old now, and sold at Saratoga. Hope springs eternal in this sport: this is why bettors line the path to the windows; why breeders send their best and their bright-
Empire Maker 16 | Equicurean 2010
est in the big, lush Sallee Horse Vans to this city in the country. Hope, according to Emily Dickinson, perches in the soul. The very origin of our being is the residence of Hope. Every year breeders, buyers, consignors, bloodstock agents and Fasig-Tipton administrators anticipate these golden days. They inhale, but don't exhale again until the following summer, when the yearlings from the current sale may be ready to test their mettle. And when they break their maidens or otherwise first show their talent ("…raising their hands," as saith All Play Stable's Paul Rothfuss)—it's a beautiful thing. The heart-stopping moment when a Fasig-Tipton yearling sale alum bests its competitors for the first time, and the fire that cannot be extinguished is lit in their welltucked-up bellies—connections breathe again. Everyone involved with the horse is compelled to see how far the talent will take them. Then back to the sales, to see if lightning really can strike twice in the same place. The Fasig-Tipton yearling sales are just as much a part of horse racing as the oval itself, for without the parade of beauty queens and kings on East Avenue—there would be no races. Thoroughbreds don't just show up out of nowhere: they are carefully bred, nurtured and presented with the intention not that they will become 1,200pound trophies who stand still to be admired. No, they are brought here so that they may be bought by that one person who has the insight and the trainer to bring out the best in the horse, to turn that magnificently-beautiful collection of sinew and bone, heart and glutes, into a racing superstar. Some say that all the great horses were of yesteryear, that there are no real Champions among us or on the horizon. Those who live this sport and work in the trenches with the yearlings know that, every time a yearling bleats for the first time—she or he may be declaring their future supremacy on the track. Those first wobbly steps taken by the newborn may light that fire. Learning to walk, then intuitively running all day against other foals—something primal and primeval is observed. Those babies take their first steps, not just toward Mother, or out of the stall door. Those first tentative, knobby-kneed movements forward are those that inform the psyche of the foal that this is what you do. You walk, then you run, then you run the competition into the ground. And for the exceptional few, baby steps lead to the big green Pavilion on East Avenue, and out the door—into history, and, for those who prove themselves to be pre-ordained equine royalty— next door, to the Hall of Fame. Come. Watch. Learn. Fall in love. Take notes, and follow careers. Get excited about horse racing for the first time, not at the track, but across the street where it all begins. Welcome, Fasig-Tipton yearlings: you are our Hope.
Equicurean 2010 | 17
18 | Equicurean 2010 Cheek
Point of Shoulder
Photo provided by www.Secretariat.com
Bridge of Nose
Point of Hip
Point of Buttock
When buyers of Thoroughbreds consider a horse for purchase, one of the key considerations is conformation: simply put, the way a horse is physically put together. The bones, muscles and proportions of the animal are the characteristics that ultimately prepare them for their job—that of running quickly with great efficiency. As with human cultural differences, each breed of horse has standards of beauty. That beauty is not superficial, rather tied directly at the most basic level to expectations for the jobs of horses within said breed. Draft horses work hard for a living: they are stocky and muscular, with thick legs and strong backs. Thoroughbreds must be able to run fast with grace, for grace of movement is a factor in the science of winning races. Long, elegant strides are the domain of those who win purses, while jackrabbit runners are far less likely to take the day. This is a most egalitarian concept: a Thoroughbred doesn't win a race because s/he is liked better by the stewards or race announcer. No one votes on who should win— or the Triple Crown would be achieved every year. A Thoroughbred must cross the finish line first to win a race. And just as Fasig-Tipton's elegant, renovated facilities are both magnificently lovely and serve a very practical purpose—the two concepts are inextricably bound up together—concern for equine conformation is a matter of form follows function. Whether a horse's main function is to run fast to win a race or to escape predators on the range—its form has been "fearfully and wonderfully made" to accommodate that most basic of instincts. The machinery that gives a Thoroughbred her locomotion—the self-powered, patterned motion of limbs or other anatomical parts—is vitally essential, from the core. A horse may be appealing to the eye, but if the parts aren't hung together in a way that facilitates smooth action and
a long stride—beauty means nothing. The legs, hind end, neck, withers and abdomen must all work together like a machine, creating a rhythm that is easily maintained, right 'til the end of the race. The runners may speed up in the stretch, but the original stride and way of moving of each horse remains essentially the same. Many factors go into the study of conformation: it's about musculature; skeletal structure and mass. But the way those physical attributes come together with the spirit of the horse—that one unquantifiable factor—determines the horse's chances of becoming a champion. Energy must overcome drag, inertia and gravity, and that is achieved by the mechanical workings of the biological attributes of the horse. Even the fact that horses are unguligrade—they are of a class of animals who walk and run on their toes—contributes to the relative perfection of the animal. Of course, horses lacking excellent conformation have made monster names for themselves in the sport: Seabiscuit was small, somewhat boney and was over at the knees. The mighty Seattle Slew was slew-footed: when he walked, his right-front hoof turned out. He ran straight as a string, but as soon as he walked back off the track, that right hoof turned and faced East. Both Seabiscuit and Seattle Slew established themselves in the Pantheon of Thoroughbred racing, their conformation problems notwithstanding. Secretariat, the mighty warrior who won the Belmont—therefore, the Triple Crown, by an otherworldly 31 lengths—is considered by most to be the most perfectly-conformed Thoroughbred. NYRA's Head Starter, Roy Williamson, cites that Secretariat was the most perfect horse he's ever touched—and he's touched hundreds of thousands of horses in his long and illustrious career.
The legendary Chick Lang responded to Secretariat's Belmont win by stating that, "It is as if God decided to create the perfect horse." Indeed, Secretariat was as perfect as possible. To determine a "perfectly" conformed Thoroughbred: a perfect square should be formed by its legs, back and distance between the hooves. A distasteful thought, but if you can envision a Thoroughbred with its head cut off at the neck—that squareness, or lack thereof, will be revealed. Secretariat formed a perfect square, to the naked eye using that yardstick. Leonard Lusky of www.Secretariat.com, shares this truth: "Secretariat truly was a Super-Horse, not only in terms of athletic ability but in his looks. His conformation and musculature were unparalleled in the Thoroughbred racing world." And that, of course, indicates that his acceleration, speed, and ability to defy drag and gravity were facilitated by his perfection of conformation and the extraordinary mechanics of his biology working together with his focus, drive and will to win. Horse sales and races continue long after Secretariat's 1973 Triple Crown win because this is the sport in which hope springs eternal. There may be another horse out there whose conformation comes together with her pedigree to create another winner of exceptional proportions. Conformation will be studied and respected as a key factor as long as horsepeople keep hope in their hearts, and science on their minds. Conformation is not the only determining factor, but it's the first that buyers and sellers notice—and the one that has the most clout when doing the physics, that sweet science that aids and abets the quest to win at this sport that offers more intangible rewards than any athletic endeavour on Earth.
Conformation: More Than Just a Pretty Face
Equicurean 2010 | 19
Pedigree: A Science, a History, a Story Told in DNA Seattle Slew was a pure-breeding bay, meaning that he always threw bay babies. Merriam-Webster's defines pedigree as: "a distinguished ancestry" and "the recorded purity of breed of an individual or strain." Without going deeply into a study of enzymes and molecular structure, we can discuss pedigree and the Thoroughbred. Pedigree plays a large role in the hopes and expectations of buyers, breeders and race fans, alike. It is an everyday occurrence to see a fan holding aloft her Daily Racing Form, excitedly racing to the window to bet on "â€Śan Empire Maker." In racing parlance, that means that Empire Maker was the sire of our bettor's choice. And Empire Maker was proclaimed by the late Bobby Frankel to be the best horse he ever trained: he took the 2003 Belmont in a driving rain, which
20 | Equicurean 2010
showed a great deal of his tenacity and penchant for the mud of Big Sandy. Fans of Empire Maker hope that his progeny show the same grit, leading to similar glory. Interestingly enough, the achievements of a horse determine the projected value of its descendants on the auctionhouse stageâ€”or the track. But the reverse concept is also a truism, in that a horse who does extraordinarily well can raise the price for its sire in the breeding shed. Pedigree, it appears, is a two-way street. None of the biases of human culture come into play in Thoroughbred breeding and sales: a horse is not considered to be undesirable because of his color or place of birth. The actual genetic structure of the horse do not denote any particularly good or bad trait. That speaks to conformation, not pedigree. For a horse who has made it to the auctionhouse, It all boils down to pedigree: the accomplishments of parents (both sire and dam) are a major consideration for those who hold the sales catalog. And speed, as they say, comes from the dam's side. With this in mind, we'll study two great Thoroughbreds, and follow their pedigrees back to their foundation sires, those Arabians who started an empire. And, inasmuch as it's true that ultimately all Thoroughbreds are relatedâ€”still, our two meteors share some compelling background. Rachel Alexandra is a contemporary star. She will be inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame the first year that she's eligible. In 2010, she's the reigning Horse of the Year, and for good reason: her race record for 2009 was unmatched by any horse, of either gender. She beat males thrice in 2009, clinch-
Credit Cathleen Duffy
ing her Eclipse when she crossed the finish line in the Woodward in Saratoga, to the hysteria of thousands of fans. Her win margin averages 8 1⁄2 lengths. She won the Kentucky Oaks in 2009 by a staggering 20 1⁄4 lengths. She continues her campaign in 2010, showing them how it's done: at Churchill Downs in June, she won the Fleur de Lis by 10 1⁄2 lengths. Rachel is not an anomaly, she's a Champion. Seattle Slew is the only undefeated Triple Crown Winner. That sentence, alone, should be adequate to
describe the mighty Slew. The dark bay—nearly black—colt showed the world what he had on September 20, 1976 when he won his first race by five lengths. The race was preceded by Slew's "war dance," as fans would name it—the sure sign that the man was ready to put on a show. The following year Slew would create hysteria as he raced toward Destiny and his Triple Crown win. Yet he was not done, even after becoming the 10th Triple Crown winner: at age four, he recovered from a serious viral infection to win the Marlboro Cup, and in so doing became the only Triple Crown Winner ever to defeat another Triple Crown Winner, Affirmed. Seattle Slew is one of the greatest Thoroughbreds ever to grace an oval: he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981 - Hail the mighty Seattle Slew. In 1978, Seattle Slew beat the late, great Exceller to take the Woodward—and thus begins the study of the similarities between our two Champions. Looking at the pedigrees of Rachel Alexandra and Seattle Slew side-by-side, we witness some fascinating places at which their pedigrees—and their destinies— cross paths:
Equicurean 2010 | 21
Photo Provided by NYRA
Seattle Slew, 1974.
Credit Cathleen Duffy
Rachel Alexandra, 2006 Sire, Medaglia d'Oro, b. 1999 Dam, Lotta Kim, 2001.
Sire, Bold Reasoning, b. 1968. Dam, My Charmer, 1969.
Since speed comes from the dam's side, we're going to start with the dams of these two leaders. My Charmer back 4 gens to Hall of Fame filly, Busher, b. 1942, who defeated males twice in her career.
Lotta Kim's grand-sire 4 gens back was the inimitable Dr. Fager, b. 1964. 5 gens after Rachel Alexandra's Dr. Fager came
Busher's sire was a superstar, the first shared between our two subjects on the dam's side:
War Admiral, b. 1934
From here Seattle Slew and Rachel Alexandra follow the same path all the way back to the foundation sires.
Man O'War, b. 1917 10th generation
Saint Marguerite, b. 1879
Devotion, b. 1869
Phantom Mare, b. 1816
And here, wonderfully and Synchronistically, our two heroic Champions share a common Grand-dam who was foaled in 1763:
22 | Equicurean 2010
The Godolphin Arabian Rachel was the granddaughter of the Godolphin Arabian. (b. 1724) on both sides, and of the Darley Arabian b. 1700 on her sire's side. There they are: the founding sires of one line of the dams' sides of Seattle Slew and Rachel Alexandra. From War Admiral in 1934 to the Darley and Godolphin Arabians in the 1700s, that one line is precisely the same. It is interesting to note that for this study, an exceptionally strong pedigree line could be traced based solely on their dam's sides. Speed, Hall of Fame inductees with superstar traits. Did all those ancestors will their most positive traits to these two horses? Seattle Slew's distinctive, dark bay—pure, almost black—is rarely seen except in his descendants. But Rachel Alexandra is a very dark bay, and one must wonder…how much do these two horses have in common? Similar colors, yes. Identical dams' heritage on one line. The other aspects, such as guts, determination and profound self-awareness: can those things be predicted by studying pedigree, or are they the stuff of which only the spirit can speak? Perhaps Man O'War inherited his grit from his great-grandmother, who got it from hers. The intangibles cannot be studied by unraveling a strand of DNA. But that is precisely why these horses are studied from all angles—from the biological to the mystical—because there may very well be something we've missed, or don't-yet understand. Until the day that we get it, pedigree as a predictor of future success will be contested, studied and revered in this, the Sport of Kings. And, on the bottom line—of Queens, as well.
Equicurean 2010 | 23
"The wind of Heaven is that which blows through a horse's ears."
Photo by Hanan Al Muhairi 24 | Equicurean 2010
The Arabian Horse: Tested and Tempered by Time and Destiny The Bedouins were nomadic tribes of people who lived in the stark Arabian landscapes: tight-knit communities of herders who took entire towns on the sandy road, necessary for the grazing of the animals in their charge. Their existence was dependent on the loyalty of their horses, to whom they turned for transportation, strength, shelter and companionship. Those horses were Arabians, the oldest-known breed of riding horse: archaeological evidence of Arabians goes back 4,500 years. Horses very closely resembling contemporary Arabians have been found in digs, indicating that the breed has not changed much in almost five millenniaâ€”testimony to the Bedouins' careful breeding practices and reverence for the purity of the line. From the very beginning, Arabians have carried men into battle. For Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, George Washington and Napoleonâ€”Arabians were the steeds of choice for those soldiers who required dependable, loyal horses who had no fear, whose legendary endurance was common knowledge. Their tremendous lung capacity, working with their unique conformation, gave them the stuff of which true warriors are made. This breed has not survived for 4,500 years simply because humans love themâ€”Arabians are alive and well in the 21st Century because of their sheer will to carry on, to endure and excel. Fast-forward to today: the Arabian horse is prized for its exceptional, otherworldly beauty, and for its versatility as a sport horse. For those who admire the conformation and facial structure of Thoroughbreds, Arabians are a horse of a different concept. Dished faces; more forward-facing eyes, small, curved ears and large nostrils give Arabians what they need for the many endeavours in which they participate. The large nostrils facilitate breathing, which makes the breed wellequipped for endurance riding and living in a desert environment. Arabians are by far the most successful and desirable horse for endurance riding, a sport popular in the Middle East and growing in interest in the United States. Their affinity for human companionship is a contributing factor: one cannot dismiss the extraordinary
intelligence that the breed brings to their assessment of the world, including humans. This desire to relate to people aids Arabians in their sporting endeavours: an endurance ride can last for days, and the people and their horses involved must be able to read each other, intimately. Trust is essential for an endurance team: Arabians are uniquely suited to work with their humans to develop trusting relationships. Arabians are coming into their own in many arenae on this side of the Pond: A great enthusiasm is growing for the foundational breed of Thoroughbreds. Dialogue is commencing between fans of each breed. The Kentucky Horse Park has mounted a spectacular exhibit, "A Gift from the Desert: the Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse." The exhibit runs through October 15th, and is sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation. Working closely together, the two entities have created a show that both fascinates and piques the imagination. They Race Arabians, Don't They? The Kentucky Horse Park exhibit is not the only foray of
Equicurean 2010 | 25
Photos Courtesy of Darla Ripley the Arabian horse into the Blue Grass of Kentucky: this year, the esteemed Keeneland Association will present the first-ever race of Arabian horses on October 9th, during its annual Fall Meet. The race will be part of the President of the UAE Cup Series announced in April by the Emirates Equestrian Federation. It is an exceptional honour that Keeneland was approached to participate: it is the only American track to participate in this particular Series. Moscow, Paris, Newmarket, Ascot and The Curragh round out the Series, Lexington being the last stop on the tour. Arabian racing is nothing new to the operators and fans at Delaware Park: the track conducts Arabian races several times during the course of every meet, and has done so for several years. On July 17th, the Park presented The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Arabian Cup. Del Park is growing into a force with which to deal, and Arabian racing is contributing to that emerging status. The Dubai World Cup, the world's richest series of races, features an Arabian race on Dubai World Cup Day, itself. The Khayala Classic is a race for the world's brightest and best Arabians. This race is a very real tie to the Bedouin heritage of the hosts of the event. The luxurious and technologically-superior Meydan Racecourse is the most cutting-edge racing facility in the worldâ€”and yet, those who built the place and set the race cards recognize that without the ancient Arabian breedâ€” horse racing as we know it would not exist today. IFAHR: The World Comes Together to Celebrate the Racing Arabian If more Arabians are racing in more locations these days, it can be attributed to the mission of a dedicated group of professionals whose love of Arabians and racing compelled them to formalize the relationship. These minds came together in 1999 to give birth to IFAHR, the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities. IFAHR is the voice for Arabian racing internationally, and it is fueled by the unbridled
26 | Equicurean 2010
passion. The intelligent promotion of the sport and the breed is the sacred trust of IFAHR, and of Mats Genberg, the Secretary of the organization. A seasoned PR professional and horse breeder, Genberg is also Chairman of the Scandinavian Arabian Racing Association. He works diligently with IFAHR Board members to promote the international embrace of Arabian racing. Purses are growing, as are the number of days and races at tracks around the globe. The prestige associated with Thoroughbred racing is finding its way to the ancestral breed, as Arabian racing takes its rightful place alongside our Thoroughbreds on the world stage of racing. Every Thoroughbred is Part Arabian. Bet on it. Now and then, an unusual Thoroughbred is seen on a track: unique in that said horse shows something in his conformation, head shape or design that indicates the direct relationship with his ancestors from 400 years ago. Many Thoroughbred race fans believe that a dished face is indicative that a Thoroughbred possesses the positive characteristics of its Arabian grandsires. These fans and bettors see a dished face and run to the windows. A horse raced at Saratoga Race Course in 2009 who possessed a rather prominent dish, easily noticed from the stands. Those bettors who recognized the strength, endurance and fearlessness of the Arabian put their money down on the history in their midst. They were not disappointed. Every Thoroughbred carries Arabian genetics. It may not be as noticeable as that beautiful face in 2009â€”but it's there. Swab any Thoroughbred, and Arabian DNA appears: it is impossible to register as a Thoroughbred unless it can be proven that a horse can be traced on both sides to at least one of the Foundation Sires. Those sires were the Godolphin Arabian, the Darley Arabian and the Byerly Turk. Arabians are the very core of Thoroughbred strength: they were chosen in the hopes that the ancient, hardy and hearty breed would pass on any of a number of myriad desirable con-
Equicurean 2010 | 27
tributions to the new breed. Loyalty; the ability to run long distances without tiring; self-awareness; unearthly beauty; physical and emotional strength; companionable to humans; fearlessness. With each passing generation, the Thoroughbred breed becomes firmly established in its own "breed-ness." That is, the traits of a Thoroughbred were firmly established long ago, but each succeeding generation strengthens the characteristics: it looks like this; it behaves in this way, etc. But without the foresight of Messrs. Darley, Godolphin and Byerly, the revolutionary Thoroughbred breed would not exist today. They created a horse that had the need for speed; unspeakable beauty of original Creation and the intelligence to interact well with humans. They knew that only one breed possessed a bloodline noble enough to manufacture the Thoroughbred—and that was the extraordinary Arabian. From the Deserts of the Arabian Peninsula… …to the prairies of Texas. Eighth-generation Texan, Darla Ripley has raced Arabians for 18 years. Originally introduced to the Arabian via the show world, she sought more immediate gratification, and to share the love of the horses with her husband. Dreamfield Arabian Horses, Inc.
28 | Equicurean 2010
was foaled in 1992. She concentrates on quality of bloodlines, and shows great insight: Dreamfield is home to three broodmares and one handsome stallion, Santana HF. Dreamfields also owns Thoroughbreds: the appetite for racing Arabians inspired them to venture forth. In 2007 the Ripleys retooled the ranch into a race training facility. They did this with the help of a gifted young former Thoroughbred jockey and Eclipse nominee, Jeremy Beasley, and his wife, Kara, their trainer. They are in the process of building their string of Thoroughbreds: their most recent winner is the hulking, gorgeous Good to Great by Successful Appeal Emeraldforaldady by Air Forbes Won. Ripley considers the benefits of breeding and racing both breeds, and sees this as the key to a bright future for racing in Texas. This formula works in Dubai, Delaware and soon, Kentucky, and may well become the model for horse racing internationally. The two breeds are forever-bound together by genetics and Dame Fortune. Hosting races for members of each breed— not racing against each other, but sharing the card—may be the marketing concept that grows interest first, and eventually passion, for both breeds and the sport. Ripley sums it up in a most poetic fashion: "In an ideal world, because the Arabian racehorse embodies the historic breeding of the Thoroughbred, it would be my wish to see Arabian and Thoroughbred racing…at all race tracks. A good racing Arabian is [on level ground with] a good racing Thoroughbred. It takes the same talent, mind, heart and attitude to be a great athlete no matter the breed. It also takes the same exemplary teamwork on the part of the owner, trainer, jockey, vet, farrier and grooms to build a great horse's racing career whether it be an Arabian or a Thoroughbred.
After all, it is a great sport and truly the Sport of Kingsâ€”dating back to the Pharaohs." The Pharaohs, Alexander the Great and George Washington loved Arabian horses. Millions around the world are rediscovering this strong, deceptivelysturdy breed and its otherworldly charm, beauty and durability. As horse racing moves into the 21st Century, the breed will continue to make inroads: the places at which Thoroughbreds and Arabians cross paths began 400 years ago, in the minds of three Englishmen. Moving forward, their paths and destinies seem to be tied together, once and for all, a secure omen for the future of the sport of racing great horses.
Photo by Mats Genberg / IFAHR
Equicurean 2010 | 29
Racing Partnerships: Fasig-Tipton Racing Club, All Play Stable and Whitehall Stable Offer Something for Everyone Fans of football, basketball, hockey—of all professional sports—can love "their" team with great devotion. They can spend thousands of dollars on tickets to games; jerseys; blankets and other items festooned with their favorite team's logo. They cheer from a place of deep passion and expensive seats and, when the team loses, they are down. When the team wins, they celebrate. But there is a very real line drawn between fans and the lives, victories and financial gains of professional sports teams: no one can own a professional athlete. Except in Thoroughbred horse racing. This is the sport in which the equine athletes are, by necessity, owned by humans. And those humans can choose to divide up shares in the horse, thereby spreading around the responsibilities and the joys.
Photos Courtesy of Fasig-Tipton Racing Club
30 | Equicurean 2010
Enter racing partnerships. Whether you call it a partnership or a syndicate, it means the same thing: shares in a Thoroughbred are divided equally after the managing person or entity has taken their part. Monthly costs are divided (training, boarding, feeding, veterinary and farrier bills), thereby reducing the sting. Winnings are divided in proportion to the number of shares owned by each individual. Not everyone wins—but not everyone wins when a horse is owned by an individual, either. Racing partnerships are the only means through which a fan can become an owner in an athlete. Other than winnings, the benefits of membership are the same whether someone owns 6% of a horse or 100%: owners' licenses, parking permits, membership to Clubhouses and entrée to the winner's circle are available to anyone who owns a piece of a horse via a syndicate. Three groups show that it can be done in a variety of ways: how a potential owner enters the racing game is determined strictly by how much can be invested, and the goals of the participants.
Fasig-Tipton has taken its 112 years of sales experience and business acumen, and partnered with three of the most successful and visionary owner/breeders in the industry: Darley, WinStar Farm and Bobby Flay. The Fasig-Tipton Racing Club leases horses from these three superstars of the sport and teams the horses with four famous and extravagantly-well established Trainers: Tom Albertrani, Kieran McLaughlin, Todd Pletcher and James Toner. This winning combination—Fasig-Tipton's deep knowledge and mission to help grow the sport; their Partner's track records for brilliance in breeding and racing and the Trainers' penchants for giving a horse all the tools it needs to bring it home—makes the FasigTipton Racing Club one of the most impressive racing syndicates in contemporary Thoroughbred racing. Those who choose to become members of this exquisitely-conceived syndicate will enjoy all the benefits of owning world-class Thoroughbreds, created by internationally-renowned breeders and trained by the best in the business. No one can guarantee that a horse will win, but if any has a chance—it's those owned and administered by the Fasig-Tipton Racing Club. For more information, contact Katy Moore: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equicurean 2010 | 31
Photos Courtesy of All Play Stable
32 | Equicurean 2010
All Play Stable believes that everyone who wants to, should have the opportunity to experience all the fun, adventure and camaraderie of Thoroughbred ownership. Manager Paul H. Rothfuss conceived of All Play Stable many years ago, when he observed that most horses were owned by individuals who had deep pockets, and that the majority of people going to the track got to watch those privileged few having a great time. That didn't seem right to Rothfuss, so he took his mother's beautiful red, white and blue silks and created All Play Stable— precisely because he knew that all who wanted to play this game—should be able so to do. While membership in many syndicates can be cost-prohibitive to all but a few, the All Play Stable method keeps costs down—even those of initial investment and monthly fees—in order to grow an ownership base that feels genuinely good about their affiliation with the syndicate. A conscientious communicator, Rothfuss sends emails to every member of All Play Stable LLCs almost daily. Open lines of communication guarantee a satisfied member, and lifelong friendships. The adjectives that best-describe All Play Stable and its leader for whom transparency is key, those descriptors would be "enthusiastic," "honest," "forthright" and "companionable." All Play Stable's horses are the products of his own careful breeding—2008's New York Champion Female Sprinter, By the Light, was the result of Rothfuss' savvy pedigree analysis and excellent decision-making skills. For more information on how to have a great time as a Thoroughbred owner, and enjoy the company of others of like mind, contact Paul H. Rothfuss: email@example.com.
Whitehall Stable came into being because upstate New York's James Pippo felt the deep need to share his love for horses with others. He grew up in a family thoroughly entrenched in equine sports—western, harness racing and farriers. Eventually Pippo started purchasing Thoroughbreds as his knowledge of the breed took on new levels of intense understanding. Owning horses by one's self can be a solitary endeavour, so Pippo turned his individual ownership into a partnership, and Whitehall Stable was foaled. Trainer Linda Rice—the first woman to win a Saratoga meet, in 2009—is the newest addition to the roster of professionals who work with Pippo to develop Whitehall Stable into the best it can be.
Trainer Seth Benzel works closely with Pippo to assure that the training team is in tune with the goals of the administration. Dr. Barry Eisaman takes every horse who is purchased by Whitehall to his lush training center in Ocala. This remarkable team of individuals, each bringing some new layer of flavor to the dish, is creating a racing partnership that's exciting, affordable and easy to love. Whitehall Stable is a fascinating study of combined talents, experience and the synergy that builds when like minds and intentions come together to create something of lasting value. All who seek Thoroughbred ownership with Whitehall Stable will find adventure and companionship in a company that values each horse as a unique being and every memberowner as a friend and colleague whose opinion matters. To contact James Pippo: firstname.lastname@example.org. Racing partnerships—syndicates—have become the new way to do business in a sport that is almost as old as the equine species, itself. Our three subjects all offer a different perspective and merits that may one day find its way into the annals of racing history. Three syndicates, three concepts of the business. Each as unique and valuable as the other: consider your racing goals, and choose the option that works best for your finances and sense of adventure. You are one email away from being an owner of a real, live athlete. Even the NFL can't promise that.
Equicurean 2010 | 33
34 | Equicurean 2010
Purpose, Passion & Pedigree Year after year, Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga stage presents the world’s most well-put-together Thoroughbreds. Their conformations will be established as they grow, but their pedigrees are extraordinary and desirable. Beautiful, elegant and dressed for success on that legendary stage, these infants have the potential to become racing royalty. The humans involved in the breeding and racing of horses come in all shapes, sizes, economic means and social position, but by far the most fascinating of racing colleagues are those who are royal. Whether royal by birth or assigned that status as the result of
achievements in the industry, these people are all to the manner born. One thing they share is that they are examples of genuine concern for horses, devotional love of the sport and for the equine athletes without whom the sport would not exist. They are role models of extraordinary business savvy; they have faith in themselves and in their destinies and in the future of Thoroughbred horse breeding and racing. It is an honour to be in the same room with any of our honourees, more so to share this sport with people who are “royal” by their very natures.
Equicurean 2010 | 35
Helen B. (Penny) Chenery American Racing Royalty
No discussion of racing's most extraordinary participants would be complete without highlighting the lives and achievements of America's racing royalty. These two women stand out, even in a field of excellence. Penny Chenery graduated from Smith College in 1943, and brought into the world all the attributes with which she'd been born, honed and nurtured by that exquisite women's college education. Her innate strength, savvy, intuition, intellectual brilliance, selfknowledge and will to move forward were all there when she arrived at Smith—but were given a platform on which to develop into the powerhouse of American
36 | Equicurean 2010
Photo Courtesy of www.secretariat.com Thoroughbred racing who gave the sport two of its greatest equine athletes, Riva Ridge and Secretariat. Penny Chenery is a genuine heroine of American racing. When called upon, she rose to the occasion to take over the administration of Meadow Farm, founded by her beloved Father, Christopher Chenery. She and Riva Ridge (whom she loved dearly) went all the way to victory in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1972. She next trumped herself by recognizing that Secretariat was oncein-a-century—perhaps in a millennium. She and Big Red teamed together to win the Triple Crown in 1973, the first Triple Crown victory in 25 years since Citation wore the crown in 1948. Her memberships and awards are too numerous to mention, but among her many accolades are that she was the first woman admitted to The Jockey Club, with colleagues Martha F. Gerry and Allaire duPont in 1983. Also, from 1976 – 1984, she served as President of TOBA (Thoroughbred Owners' and Breeders' Association). Penny Chenery has nurtured many women in their racing careers over the years, encouraging them, often providing a first opportunity to ply their skills and talents in a sport that, in years past, was averse to the notion of women as turf writers, jockeys, trainers and owners. She is genuine and generous, working long and hard to rescue and retire horses who've served so well. For these and so many other reasons, Penny Chenery should be crowned, for surely—she is racing royalty, in America and recognized internationally, as well.
Saratoga's favorite and most dedicated resident is beloved, not only for her generosity of spirit, but also for her profound kindness and unwavering fidelity to the sport. Volumes have been written about Marylou Whitney, and yet her commitment to horse racing is rarely found in those pages. When her second husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt (C.V. or Sonny) Whitney died in 1992, Mrs. Whitney did not miss a step: even as she grieved the loss of her mate of 34 years, she intended to honour his great love of the sport of Thoroughbred racing, a love which he had inherited. (His Father, Harry Payne Whitney, owned Greentree [farm] on Nelson Avenue in Saratoga. The lush farmstead is now gently owned and managed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed's Darley America.) Mrs. Whitney picked up the reins of Sonny's racing operation, slimmed it down a bit; created her own silks and made her own decisions. Her Birdstone won the 2004 Belmont, thereby denying Smarty Jones the Triple Crown. Mrs. Whitney showed her class that afternoon as she apologized to the crowd at Belmont and to the racing world in general—she, too, had hoped to see a Triple Crown Winner that year. Her grace was lovely to observe: it should have been a moment of sheer joy and celebra-
tion for her, but precisely because she is a woman of dignity—she strove to make amends for winning, perhaps to ease the pain of the Chapmans and Smarty Jones' fans. A story in the New York Times several years back reported that Mrs. Whitney and her trainer, Nick Zito, were at a black-tie affair when she received word that a mare was foaling. The two went to the barn, where she removed her opera gloves, hitched up her flowing gown and got down on her knees to help that mare deliver her baby. This was not for the benefit of the press, this was for the benefit of the horse who was in labor—and Mrs. Whitney, as her owner—her Mother—had to be sure that her girl was all right, and that the foal made it healthily into the world. These two stories are certainly not the entire story on Marylou Whitney, but they do illustrate why she is a legend in horse racing. She's not afraid to get in and do the dirty work in order to assure a happy ending, and she's not too proud to apologize—even if she's done nothing for which to be sorry. She is the very model of grace under fire, the epitome of community spirit. Whether that community is Saratoga Springs or her horse racing family, she gives without prejudice and shares of her wealth without thinking twice. Mrs. Marylou Whitney is American racing royalty, indeed. We are blessed to share the same space as this great woman who loves dearly and is loved in return.
Equicurean 2010 | 37
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed holds many official titles, each of which comes with duties and responsibilities that he takes very seriously: Ruler of Dubai; Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates. He's also a member of distinguished sodalities such as the Irish Thoroughbred Association Hall of Fame; The Jockey Club (US) and The Jockey Club (UK). Memberships in these institutions are by invitation only. His Highness' recognition by these esteemed groups and others too numerous to name in this space emphasize the fact that he is a horseman par excellence, a star even among his peers. Sheikh Mohammed has been involved since before his birth, as his cultural heritage and Bedouin roots instilled a deep respect and love for the species centuries ago. He began riding as a small child and visited a racecourse in England in 1967. Ten years later, his first horse, Hatta, won at Brighton, giving Sheikh Mohammed his first taste of the joy of the winner's circle. Thirty-three years later, he is established as a leader in the sport as a breeder, owner and visionary. An exhaustive list of the stars of his racing stables must include the names of such overachievers as Desert Party, Electrocutionist and two standout homebreds: Bernardini and His Highness' much-beloved, the late Dubai Millennium. In 2003, His Highness founded Darley Flying Start, an International Management Training Program specializing in Thoroughbred breeding and racing. The unique concept behind Darley Flying Start is to give the next generations of racing and breeding professionals the in-depth academic knowledge and practical, hands-on experience to graduate from the program and have the tools to tackle any position within the equine industry with confidence. Darley Flying Start is just one of the many concepts instituted by Sheikh Mohammed to help grow the Thoroughbred industry, a field in which his experience and insight are profoundly valuable
38 | Equicurean 2010
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Photo Courtesy of Dubai Racing Club and necessary as the sport grows fully into the 21st Century. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum owns hundreds of Thoroughbreds, and yet he maintains an intimate and knowledge-based relationship with each one, and works diligently to assure the graceful retirement of each horse in his care. Truly he is a role model for everyone in the industry of breeding and racing horses, greatly admired by rescue and retirement groups and industry professionals and fans alike. He is always on the lists of Forbes and Fortune for his business acumen and worth, but as Saratogians and other Americans in racing knowâ€”he is the royal who lives and works next door.
Her Royal Highness
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein
Photo Courtesy of Office of HRH Princess Haya HRH Princess Haya is a daughter of the late, greatlymissed King Hussein Bin Talal of Jordan—a peacemaker and diplomat of the highest degree. The Princess follows in her great sire's footsteps: among her many humanitarian affiliations is her role as a UN Ambassador of Peace, an appointment she received in 2007 by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This is but one such passion into which the Princess throws herself with a sense of dedication that originated in her Amman upbringing. Like her husband, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin
Rashid Al Maktoum, the canvas of her life is painted with the colors of horses since early in her life. An Olympic athlete, she represented Jordan in Show Jumping at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. In so doing, she became the first Arab woman to compete in equestrian at the Olympics, world and continental championship levels. In 2007, the International Olympic Committee elected her as a member of the IOC. In May of 2006, Her Royal Highness was elected as President of the International Federation (FEI = Fédération Equestre Internationale), and has actively overseen the events leading up to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which will be held in Lexington in September 2010. Her equine ambitions don't begin and end with equestrian sports: Princess Haya races Thoroughbreds under her own silks. In 2008, her three-year-old colt, New Approach, won the Derby Stakes at Epsom Downs. That same year, Raven's Pass won the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita for the Princess' stable. Surely, this is a woman whose profound love for horses has led her into victory in more than one arena. The encouragement she receives from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is a stellar example of how one couple can approach the same sport—even competing against each other on the racetrack—and come out feeling mutually happy about the results. In all her endeavours, HRH Princess Haya serves both humankind and the equine world with focus and vision, and that combination speaks to her upbringing in the household of one of the world's great men of action. Her marriage to another great man, with whom she shares the love of horses and intellectual endeavour, is a match made in the very heart of racing's center stage. She moves with grace and genuine class, whichever hat she wears at the time: a Royal Ascot chapeau or equestrienne's helmet fit her equally well and genuinely on this royal, this woman of many talents.
Equicurean 2010 | 39
Ride, Sallee Horse Vans has been carrying racing's stars for over 50 years. The key word is, "commitment." The deep black of midsummer pre-dawn envelops the knights as gingerly they move up the mountain highway. Navigating their enormous white steeds past tall pines and foraging deer, their convoy intimidates onlooking wildlife. They share a mission, that of delivering precious cargo safely to the appointed destination, with as little stress as possible. Their passengers shift and nicker as they rouse: they know that the long trip is at its end. The knights line up their white steeds the entire length of the famous thoroughfare. They are at the end of a trip that took them from rolling hills to ancient moun-
40 | Equicurean 2010
Ride tains, traversing hundreds of miles in an overnight. Perhaps the most compelling part of their story is that they took this roadtrip in record time, the silence broken only by the occasional tune wafting from the radio and the low "Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm" of their revered packages. These knights are the horsemen-drivers of Sallee Horse Vans, and this is their annual trek to Saratoga from Lexington to deliver the 900-pound yearlings to be sold at the Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearling Sale in August. Every year they make this same trip, the same route in identical, reliable vehicles: only the horses inside change with each time. The steadfastness of the teamâ€”drivers, dispatchers, owner, mechanicsâ€”assures that every yearling will arrive in Saratoga with not a scratch on a sacred limb. No angst nor upset: these horsemen-drivers are professionals, men whose vocations meld two very different and yet complimentary skill sets. They drive big rigs with dexterity and insight, but they also know horses, intimately. They are chosen for their unique combination of talents, and for their passion for what they do. They, along with the owner and staff of Sallee Horse Vans treat every horse as if s/he is their own: The pre-Saratoga Sale trip is an annual ritual that is absolutely magnificent to behold: the long, clean, white tractor-trailers festooned with
the comforting Sallee Horse Vans logo course up the Northway toward Exit 14 in pitch-black, the Friday before the first night of the Sales. Carefully maneuvering around the curved exit and onto Union Avenue, they line up the entire length of the boulevard, from where they will thread their way down East and onto George and Case. There's something beautiful about the relative silence with which the horsemen-drivers control their trucks. Neighbors on Union and the environs aren't awakened by the downshifting of gears, unless they'd already set their clocks to witness this annual delivery by the industry's most-careful couriers. Sallee Horse Vans makes its homebase in Lexington, Kentuckyâ€”but the highway is its turf. No one knows the fastest and most efficient way to truck horses across country like these contemporary cowboys and their seasoned leaders. For more than half-a-century, Sallee Horse Vans has transported hundreds of thousands of horses every year, criss-crossing the United States and Canada. It's one of the largest equine transportation companies in the world, with ample reasons. Nicole Pieratt, third-generation owner of Sallee Horse Vans, is one key reason, but she graciously gives full credit to her drivers and staff. There are many similarities between a semi and a Thoroughbred: both must be finessed, not handled carelessly or with malice. The team is aware of this, from the first phone call to the signing off upon delivery. The overall comfort, safety and emotional well-being of both horses and clients are of primary concern for Ms. Pieratt and the team of so many who make Sallee
Horse Vans the well-respected company that we see today. Humans and horses are considered equally by the concerned, conscientious team that occupies the space at Buck Lane in Lexingtonâ€”that is, when they're not on the road. And they're on the road a lot, because service, safety and accessibility make this one of the best-run and most ethically-centered companies in the United States today. Sallee Horse Vans is built for comfort, safety and, ultimately, the well-being of every horse whom it serves. The very foundation of the industry is in good hands, with Sallee Horse Vans at the driving wheel.
Equicurean 2010 | 41
Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue and Sanctuary... ... is celebrating its fifth anniversary as a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit equine charity. Amaryllis is based in the Hamptons, Long Island where several active farms accommodate horses from all former service areas, mostly racing. Hundreds of horses have been assisted by Amaryllis. These horses were lesson or camp horses, show horses, race horses and mustangs. They simply couldnâ€™t find another job instantly and so were purchased by a killbuyer to transport across the borders for slaughter. We have found fantastic new homes for over half of the well over one hundred horses we took in personally. We saved these horses so they could receive the quality of life they deserve and each horse gets just that! Those not adoptable are granted forever sanctuary at Amaryllis. Horses who have worked for their humans and are now in trouble are the first horses we accept and where our heart lies. We are volunteers and we are working around the clock caring for these beloved horses. We need your support. We support over 50 horses at any time. We do not breed or show. We just take care to meet their every need. When a pregnant mare pushes her head into your chest and sighs knowing she is finally safe; when a starved, ulcer ridden, misunderstood young racehorse puts his head on your shoulder and remains there for minutes after being pulled from the kill pen; when a 27 yr old Thoroughbred exracehorse brings his head to yours and looks deep into your eyes for a very long time with pure gratitude because his future was not accounted for when his owner tragically diedâ€Ś..then you know you have succeeded in your mission to change the world for a horse. Please help sustain us. God bless you
42 | Equicurean 2010
Equicurean 2010 | 43
Festival of Racing: Photos Courtesy of Fasig-Tipton
The intersection of Union and East Avenues in the historic horsetown of Saratoga Springs, New York is more than a place at which fans dash across the old boulevard to enter America’s oldest and most beautiful race course. It is also the place at which wellheeled and beautifully pedigreed Thoroughbreds cross the road on their journey into the paddock and, more often than not—into the history books. Saratoga is the only track in America, perhaps in the world, at which the horses walk through the throngs on the grounds to the paddock to be saddled. It is a privilege to be in a car, gridlocked in the sweltering Adirondack humidity, watching these most-graceful of animals dancing across Union, heads and spirits high. It is a ritual that is played out myriad times a day, adding to the allure of this mystical and romantic equine Xanadu. Union and East are also the streets on which sit two entities that are forever bound, but that rarely conspire to put on a show together. Fasig-Tipton, the esteemed Thoroughbred auction company on East and the Saratoga
44 | Equicurean 2010
Where Breeding Meets Victory Race Course on Union, the track at which fortunes and dreams are realized—together are producing the secondannual Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing the weekend of July 31 – August 1, 2010. The walk between the two front entrances is symbolic: yearlings come into the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion at Fasig-Tipton. Young, shiny and new, their racing careers
won’t begin for at least another year. They strut onto the stage, the objects of desire. They walk off, and the first leg of their journey to racing fame has begun. So, too, the walk down East from that Pavilion toward the track is representative of the path that these young athletes will most likely take if the stars are in their favor. The Festival of Racing is the celebration that leads to the 2010 Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale on August 2nd and 3rd, and the New York-Bred Preferred Yearlings Sales on August 7th and 8th. Fasig-Tipton and NYRA have created a partnership that will show off the finest Thoroughbreds in races that are Saratoga traditions, some of the oldest races in the world. The 2009 (inaugural) Festival saw thrilling wins in the Whitney (Bullsbay); The Test (Flashing); Alfred G. Vanderbilt (Fabulous Strike) and the Honorable Miss (Game Face). 2010’s Festival will feature the $70,000 William B. Fasig Stakes on Saturday, July 31 and the $70,000 Humphrey S. Finney Stakes on Sunday, August 1. Additionally, the much-anticipated Grade 1, $500,000 Diana and Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy will be contested that Saturday. The Grade 1, $250,000 Ruffian, Grade 2, $150,000 Fourstardave Handicap, named for the Sultan of Saratoga, and the new $75,000 Curlin will be contested on Sunday. Fasig-Tipton will once again offer a prize – $500—to the grooms who do the best job preparing their charges for the Fasig Stakes and the Finney Stakes, as part of the “Best Turned-Out Horse” contest. The “Best TurnedOut Filly” prize will be awarded on July 31st and August 1st to the woman who is best-dressed for racing success.
Track patrons will be invited to participate in the Follow the Fasig-Tipton Grads contest during the Festival. Whenever a Fasig-Tipton Sales graduate competes, one name will be drawn and the lucky winner will be invited to watch that race from a
Equicurean 2010 | 45
…the most exquisite Thoroughbreds on Earth VIP area of the Race Course. If the horse wins, the contestant will receive a gift bag. The following weekend the Festival continues, with the Fasig-Tipton 5K and one-mile Fun Run, to benefit NYRA’s four charities equally: Anna House, Backstretch ServiceTeam, Race Track Chaplaincy/New York Division and the Backstretch Education Fund. Registration for the race is available at www.fasigtipton.com. On Sunday, August 8th, Fasig-Tipton will host “Weanling to the Winner’s Circle,” a free seminar at the Finney Pavilion. The seminar, sponsored with NYRA and New York Thoroughbred Breeders, will feature recentlyretired jockey Richard Migliore (“Mig”), trainer Nick Zito, consignor Becky Thomas and a special guest star. The Festival of Racing will formally wrap up when a $100,000 prize is awarded to the owner of the first horse sold at last year’s Selected Yearling Sale who wins a graded stakes race at the 2010 Saratoga meet. This award is part of the Juvenile Jackpot, an exciting new promotion designed to encourage and nurture that connection between sales and racing in the Spa City. The physical intersection of these two roads is symbolic of two facets of the same industry: the place at which breeding and racing meet. The Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing is a celebration of shared goals, values and ideals. Working together, Fasig-Tipton and NYRA can continue to grow the sport as they encourage the breeding, selling and racing of the most exquisite Thoroughbreds on Earth—all within a 50-yard stretch of flower-strewn street.
46 | Equicurean 2010
Equicurean 2010 | 47
Equine Advocates: A Haven for Those Who Need it Most
The mission of Equine Advocates is to rescue, protect and prevent the abuse of horses through education, investigation, rescue operations and the dissemination of information to the public. "My initial inspiration for founding Equine Advocates was the horse slaughter issue. After having spent 15 years working in the racing industry in different capacities and then rescuing my first horse from slaughter four years later, I felt I could best use my experience by dedicating my life's work to the rescue and protection of abused and slaughter-bound equines." So begins Susan Wagner's declaration of love for all the horses, donkeys—and even goats—in the loving care of Equine Advocates, a unique rescue organization in upstate New York. Since their inception in 1996, Susan, her sister, Karen and their committed team of employees and volunteers have aided and rescued thousands of equines from slaughter, abuse and neglect. In 2004, they established Safe Home Equine Rescue and Sanctuary, a 140-acre equine sanctuary in Chatham, New York. The Sanctuary built the Humane Education Center in 2006. is an extraordinary place, unlike anything in the rescue world. Lectures, meetings and classes take place in the continuing effort to educate and inform those who work together to end slaughter and abuse. Coming to the Center, these good souls can share ideas and goals, and exchange information. Their main mission is to instill a sense of responsibility in people who have horses or who want to. "Sending any equine to slaughter should never be an option," states Wagner: "There is a saying, If you can afford to shoe a horse, you can afford to humanely euthanize that horse.” The Equine Advocates team feels strongly that humane euthanasia is the better alternative to slaughter. Wagner continues: "Suffering must be prevented. If horse slaughter were no longer an option, then everyone who had horses would be forced to take responsibility for them and that's how it should be.”
48 | Equicurean 2010
This passion and insight foaled Equine Advocates, one of the nation's most respected and respectable sanctuaries. An equine who is brought to the beautiful farm in Chatham will never again need to fear. He will never go hungry, or be neglected. That animal will live out his life surrounded by loving hearts, helping hands and watchful eyes. Equine Advocates has scores of friends who agree with their philosophies: many of these friends will gather on July 29th in Saratoga Springs, when the organization hosts its annual gala at the Canfield Casino. Three special guests will be commended for their extraordinary work in the name of saving equine lives: • His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, is a man of exceptional charity and unbridled affection for horses. He has put his money, time and energy into the assurance that horses—his and those of others—are respected, loved and cared for their entire lives. In recognition of his willingness to go above and beyond in the name of kindness, he will receive the Ellen and Herbert Moelis Equine Savior Award for Philanthropy. His Highness has worked diligently to guard, protect and preserve every horse of which he is aware. His charity extends far outside the border of his native Dubai: his work is international, and gratefully appreciated by those who hold the same values of responsible horsemanship and horsemanitarianism. The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is credited with the saying, "…if your neighbour owns a horse and you do not, open a window in the wall to allow the Blessings to reach you from next door." Those blessings go in reverse, as well: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed sees the opportunity to bless the lives of horses, and he acts upon the Prophet's documented respect for the noble equine. A more suitable recipient of the Award cannot be conceived. • Actress and activist, Bo Derek, will receive the Equine Advocates'
Safe Home Equine Protection Award for her dedication to ending the practice of horse slaughter. Ms. Derek has spent a great deal of time on Capital Hill, campaigning for anti-slaughter bills and fearlessly approaching members of Congress to sway their votes. A horse lover and riding enthusiast since childhood, she owns Andalusian horses, and is a spokesperson for the Animal Welfare Institute's national campaign to end horse slaughter through passage of federal and state legislation. In 2002 she published her autobiography, â€œRiding Lessons: Everything That Matters in Life I Learned from Horsesâ€?. Ms. Derek is admired for her assertive campaign to end the madness of equicide, a campaign that she will not cease until slaughter is no longer in the legal lexicon in the United States and Canada. â€˘ Herb Moelis, the visionary founder of Thoroughbred Charities of America, will receive a special tribute for creating this unique organization that sustains and supports the work of so many other groups. The TCA mission: "To provide a better life for Thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers by supporting retirement, rescue and research and by helping the people who work with them." Herb Moelis is the very soul of Thoroughbred Charities of America: without his insight and determination, many worthy equine organizations might have died on the vine before they gained sure footing. Equine Charities is happy for the opportunity to honor Mr. Moelis as he retires from his formal role in the organization that he founded. He will not sit idle, but find other ways of expressing his profound love for horses and the community that supports them. Equine Advocates is unique for it is a gathering place for refugee equines, and for those who share the vision of a world without slaughter or cruelty. This organization is worthy of support by the grateful equine community: the Wagners and their staff and volunteers bring their entire selves to the barn every morning, and the racing world thanks them, on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.
Equicurean 2010 | 49
Live Nation concert season at SPAC
VIP Premium Seat Program As Director of Sales for Live Nation – the largest producer of live concerts in the world – Renee Jenkins loves her job. This summer, Jenkins will revel in a variety of performances during the Live Nation concert series at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), including shows from the one and only, Sting, and the legends of rock, Kiss. “We have a great variety of artists coming through SPAC this season,” Jenkins said. “There really is a concert for everyone this summer.” As a VIP Premium Seat client, you will have some of the best seats in the house for these shows. A truly exclusive experience, the VIP Premium Seat Program includes premium location box seats to all Live Nation concerts during the season, parking in a private lot and access to the VIP Club featuring complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a full cash bar. “Renee has put together a truly VIP experience,” Jim Rossi, managing partner at Saratoga Polo said. “What she has been doing at SPAC is in line with what we’ve been offering our sponsors at Polo – premium hospitality. Live Nation has been a great sponsor of ours through the years, and we have seen a lot of crossover in the clientele at both venues. Full and partial packages are still available, so call today. For more information about the VIP Premium Seat Program, or the Live Nation concert schedule at SPAC, please call Jenkins at 518583-3045, ext. 13 or e-mail email@example.com
Renee Jenkins (Right) and daughter Jacqueline, with Bandit at The Equine Horse Sanctuary.
50 | Equicurean 2010
Bill Nack: Secretariat's Chronicler Recalls the Champion Photos Provided Story By Helen Susan Edelman
ill Nack thinks he's the luckiest turf writer who ever lived. In 1972, two months after he took on the horseracing beat for Newsday, Nack was introduced to Secretariat, a powerful two-year old Thoroughbred he calls "the most outrageously gorgeous athlete I ever saw and a lot of fun." He followed Secretariat from track to track, where, he recalls, "he ran like lightning. He was a star and people loved him for his physical talent. He didn't do drugs, he didn't demand more money and he didn't threaten to quit. He just wanted to be fed and turned loose." The journey was a thrill for journalist Nack, who says, "I hitched my wagon to that horse. I was emotionally involved. My kids thought of him as part of the family. I hung around him every day." As Secretariat's chronicler, Nack spent days with larger-than-life racing luminaries, including the horse's jockey Ron Turcotte, owner Penny Chenery, trainer Lucien Laurin, groom Eddie Sweat and exercise rider Jim Gaffney. The next year, the record-breaking horse triumphed at finish lines in the Kentucky Derby, the Pimlico and at Belmont, taking the Triple Crown in 1973. "He was a Cadillac among Volkswagons," Nack recalls. "He announced himself. He went from being unknown to being the top racehorse in the country." One of the places Nack watched Secretariat run was at Saratoga Race Course, the journalist's favorite track in America, where, he says, "the winds of history blow through the town. I love the atmosphere, I love the awnings, I love the porches and I love the feeling that I am in the presence at the track of the ghosts of the great runners. I'm into the story of the sport and Saratoga is the repository for all its history." Nack - a former race horse owner - has authored Secretariat: The Making of a Champion; My Turf: Horses, Boxers, Blood Money, and the Sporting Life and Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance. He is also well known for his years as a reporter for Sports Illustrated and is a seven-time winner of the prestigious Eclipse Award for outstanding writing about the Thoroughbred industry. These days, Nack is throwing his considerable energy behind Michael Blowen's Old Friends, praising the organization for its achievements in providing compas-
sionate care for retired racehorses. "Old Friends exemplifies heightened sensitivity to the plight of pensioned racehorses, giving them the life they deserve. I am a big supporter of their efforts." Recalling his relationship with the horse, Nack described himself as "exultant" at the beginning, then "awed" and finally "devastated" when the fatally ill horse was euthanized in 1989. "I threw myself with a passion into writing about that horse," Nack says, "I remember his greatness. It was right in front of me. I yielded a piece of myself to that horse forever."
Equicurean 2010 | 51
Saratoga Saddlery: Riders up, with Style Photos by Sharon Castro
Saratoga Saddlery, Sabine Rodgers' lushly-decorated store on Broadway in Saratoga Springs, is a symphony for the senses: rich tapestries of colors – clothing, fabrics, pottery, footwear – blend in with the rustic-sophisticated furniture on the second floor. This mélange of flavors is a gift to those who are discouraged by the mass production of contemporary retail society. Walking through the door of this temple to equine-centricity, the sensuality which the unconscious mind associates with horses is in your face – and yet invites you in to explore more. Simply put, Saratoga Saddlery offers products that are unique, often one-of-a-kind, because each piece is made with commitment. Whether pottery, richly burnished in metallic reds and rich clay; a sofa made of exotic materials from Australia or jewelry in golds, silvers and rich leathers – this beautiful store is testimony to the notion that, when quality is more important than quantity – the everyday becomes art. The pottery on the rough-hewn shelves on
52 | Equicurean 2010
Broadway are so delightful to the touch that one hesitates to put fluid into them – and yet we are eager to get that mug home and experience our favorite lager, hosted by this new treasure. Every item in the store has been carefully and thoughtfully considered and shopped for personally by the owner. Nothing slips in that has not become an object of admiration. If Rodgers doesn't love it, why would a customer buy it? Her insight into the deep desires of discriminating horsepeople has proven to be a formula for success: Del Mar, California – that town on the left coast that features another rather-lovely racetrack – is host to their own Saratoga Saddlery. When fans of the Spa City visit Del Mar for the first time and see the familiar Saratoga Saddlery sign, they know that the quality is there before they walk through the doors. Saratoga Saddlery is a welcome addition to the delightful collection of shops and restaurants on Broadway in Saratoga Springs. Their store in California keeps the Saratoga allure alive, 3,000 miles away. The two stores are testimony to the fact that, when an owner is conscientious, aware of her clients' desires and needs and refuses to accept less than the best – a great retail environment can be created. If all stores that came in multiples had the vision and style of Saratoga Saddlery's Sabine Rodgers – society would be far-better dressed; decorated with more personalized flair and far-more comfortable in their own shoes.
Equicurean 2010 | 53
54 | Equicurean 2010
Equicurean 2010 | 55
56 | Equicurean 2010
Equicurean 2010 | 57
Equicurean The Horses, The People, The Lifestyle
Equicurean 2010 | 3
Publisher Chad Beatty Editorial Director Marion E. Altieri
Equicurean The Horses, The People, The Lifestyle
General Manager Robin Mitchell Art Director Tiffany Garland Advertising Chris Bushee Cindy Durfey Pre-Press Coordinator Sam Bolles Contributing Photographers Creative Photo and Graphic Sharon Castro Photography Stock Studios Photography Head Writer Marion E. Altieri Contributing Writers Bob Bullock Helen Susan Edelman Ruth Fein Wallens Copy Proofreader Anne Proulx Printing Fry Communications, Inc. Published by Saratoga Publishing, LLC Five Case Street Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 tel: 518.581.2480 fax: 518.581.2487 saratogatodayonline.com Equicurean is brought to you by Saratoga Publishing, LLC. All information contained within this publication is based on data collected from a variety of sources at the time of publication. Saratoga Publishing, LLC shall make every effort to avoid errors and omissions but disclaims any responsibility should they occur. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent of the publisher Copyright (c) 2010, Saratoga Publishing, LLC
Saratoga Springs - Where Horses Rule
In Memoriam; Bill Ylvisaker
A Sport for Warriors
Meet Neku Atawodi
Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic
World Equestrian Games
Retired Thoroughbreds find a Home
Welcome to Equicurean…and welcome to the heart-stopping worlds of Thoroughbred horse racing and world-class, high-goal polo. When we began this journey we had no idea that it would take us around the world and back. But whether we were laying out pages on the ancient Arabian horse or writing about our neighbors at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga, we always had one goal, and it was a high goal indeed: to entertain and inform the mind and inspire the imagination of those whose lives and lifestyles are the products of diligence, insight and savvy. This is your world, and this is your magazine. As you will soon find out, this is a flip-sided magazine, meaning it has two front covers and two mutually-exclusive editorial focuses. Since you are reading my introduction, you are about to dive into the world of Women’s Polo, the fastest-growing segment of polo in the country. The flip side takes you into the fast-paced world of Thoroughbred and Arabian horse racing – steeped in history and tradition, and filled with characters larger than life. Whether you are thirsting for Thoroughbreds or have a penchant for polo, I urge you to explore it all and experience everything that the equine world has to offer. Horses are your world, and Equicurean is your magazine. Chad Beatty Publisher
Cover photo by: Mark Bolles of Creative Photo & Graphic
4 | Equicurean 2010
Equicurean 2010 | 5
6 | Equicurean 2010
Welcome to Saratoga Springs
Where Horses rule Photos by ÂŠstockstudiosphotography.com
Equicurean 2010 | 7
Equicurean 2010 | 9
10 | Equicurean 2010
Equicurean 2010 | 11
An Announcer’s Perspective
By Bob Bullock, Voice of Saratoga Polo
I still remember my first polo match. It was nearly 30 years ago at a low-goal club in Camden, South Carolina. I was in the Air Force and indulging in my passion of participating in anything that involved horses. As I watched the players race from one end of the field to the other (with no announcer to help me understand what I was seeing), I remember thinking that this must be the most complicated sport in the world to understand. Several years later, I was asked to help kill the time leading up to a match at Saratoga Polo, while we waited for then-announcer Frank Dwyer to come from the Saratoga Race Course, where he was back-up announcer for the Thoroughbreds. As I began my polo announcing career, I thought about what people would care to hear. At first, I told them about upcoming events. Then I told them about the sponsors. Finally, I began talking about the rules. This became an immediate hit.
As I studied the rules in detail, I discovered most were easy to understand. What a newcomer needs to know to follow what’s happening on the field and enjoy it was pretty simple to explain. Here is some of what I said, so that you too can understand and enjoy a match. Good afternoon and welcome to Saratoga Polo on what will, no doubt, be a beautiful afternoon for world class sport in the Spa City. For those of you who are new to the sport, let’s take a few minutes and discuss what you will see today. The sport of polo is the ultimate warrior sport. First played more than 2,500 years ago in the kingdom of Persia, polo has been practiced by military figures like Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, W i n s t o n
Equicurean 2010 | 13
Churchill, George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower, and corporate warriors including Averill Harriman, Will Rogers and Walt Disney. The sport was re-discovered in India by British military officers in the 1800s and immigrated back to England. From there it crossed the ocean and began to be played by the wealthy in the United States. Early in the 20th century it found its way to Argentina and, owing to the incredible horsemanship of the Argentines and the flatness of the land around Buenos Aires, it was perfected. Today, some of the greatest players in the world come from Argentina. You will see many of them playing here in Saratoga. This afternoon, you will see six chukkers of polo. A chukker is a period of play seven minutes and 30 seconds in duration. Play begins at mid-field with a throw in or bowl in by the mounted umpire. From there it goes end to end, only coming back to mid-field after a goal is scored. Watch the goals. If a goal judge waves the flag in the air, it is an apparent goal. If he waves it down at the ground, it, in his estimation, has gone wide. He can be overruled by the mounted umpire. After a goal is scored, the teams exchange goals. This is the great equalizer in polo and erases any advantage that might occur due to wind, sun or playing conditions. At seven minutes, a first warning horn will sound. If there is no score and the ball remains in play, the remaining thirty seconds will be played until the double horn sounds, ending the chukker. Play is continuous and only stops when a whistle is blown for a penalty or safety condition. If a penalty occurs within five seconds of the end of the chukker, the five seconds are put back on the clock. There are four players on each team. Players carrying the number one on their back will typically stay out in front of the play by the goal. Players wearing number two or three are typically your highest rated and best mounted professionals. It is their job to be the playmakers, moving from end to end and feeding the number one. The player wearing the number four will remain behind the action. He is frequently the last line of defense and, if he moves up, he will have to pass the responsibility for that number four position to a colleague, lest he not leave a hole on defense. As for player ratings, players are rated from minus two to a possible 10 goals, as
14 | Equicurean 2010
determined by the U.S. Polo Association. To get a team rating, the player ratings of the four players are added. The team with the lower rating at the beginning of the match will start out with that difference on the scoreboard. There are six shots used in polo. When a player mounts, he or she mounts from the left side of the pony, just as with any equestrian sport. Shots taken from that left side are known as near side forehand or backhand. An offside forehand is the power shot in polo. It is taken on the right side going forward and can travel more than 100 yards easily. The offside backhand is on the right side going to the rear. Neck shots are taken underneath the neck of the pony and tail shots are taken underneath the tail of the pony. Note that the manes of the ponies are clipped close and the tails are wrapped to enable the players to easily work on all sides of the pony without getting tangled up. When a player touches the ball, he or she establishes the line of play. An opposing player crossing that line at any angle will most likely incur what is known as a crossing infraction. Depending upon the severity of the cross or where it occurs, one of two mounted umpires can assess a penalty, from an automatic goal (penalty one), to a penalty five from mid-field, or from the point of infraction. If a player knocks the ball over his or her own end line while trying to defend, a “safety” is assessed and the ball is brought out sixty yards. Penalty one, two and three shots are undefended. In other words, no opposing player can come between the shooter and the goal until the ball is struck or struck at. On a penalty four, five or safety, the opposing team can line up but not closer than thirty yards from the shooter. Once the shooter touches the ball, remember that he or she has established the line of play and the rule on crossing is still in force. An infraction here can result in a penalty upgrade. Other penalties are assessed to ensure the safe play of the game. There is no dangerous riding, two-on-one defenses that would sandwich a player, bumping behind the saddle or reaching in front of a player’s pony to attempt to get at the ball. When one or both of the mounted umpires see a penalty, they will blow the play dead. If the two cannot come to consensus on a penalty, they will look to the sideline where a referee or third man will assist with the call. How do you defend? If two players are operating on the same side of the pony, that is to say the nearside of one pony and the offside of the defending pony, a defender can try to steal or hook the ball away from the attacker. The defender can also bump or ride off the opposing player. Here the bump must be clean with the defender not hitting in front of or behind the saddle, creating a dangerous riding condition. That is all you need to know to knowledgeably watch the sport of polo. Remember to listen to the announcer. It is our job to reinforce these rules and make sure you have a wonderful time. We’ll see you at the field.
Equicurean 2010 | 15
Polo Traditions Stomp the Divots At half-time, all are welcome on the field for the traditional “divot stomping.” During polo play, small patches of grass and dirt are torn up by the polo ponies’ quick starts, stops and turns, creating divots that can be dangerous for the horses. Fans make an experience out of “stomping” the divots back in place, while helping to keep ponies and players safe.
Sabre a Champagne After the match, join in the celebration of the trophy presentation, as spectators, players, sponsors and friends come together on the field to congratulate the winners and enjoy the ceremonial sabrage or “Sabre a Champagne.” Sabrage is the art of opening a bottle of Champagne by using a small traditional sword called a “sabre.” Sabrage originated in France during the Napoleonic Wars. The story says that after her husband’s death, the legendary Barbe Nicole Ponsardin, known today as Veuve Clicquot (veuve in French is widow), took over his company and became one of the largest exporters of Champagne for the royal courts in the Russian Empire and France. She began to organize parties for officers and high society. After the party, she gave a bottle of Champagne to the officers to enjoy before battle. As the soldiers were riding on horseback, it was difficult to open the foil and cage and take the cork out. So one day, a young officer took out his sword and beheaded the bottle with a stroke of his blade – and the celebratory tradition stuck.
16 | Equicurean 2010
Equicurean 2010 | 17
In Memoriam: Trying to sum up the life’s work and play of William T. (Bill) Ylvisaker in one page or so is impossible. His obituary in Polo Zone, following his death in February, was four pages long. Reams have been written about his visionary business acumen—as CEO of Gould Electronics from 1967 – 1986, he turned a $100 million battery manufacturer into a $2.3 billion diversified technology company. His Midas touch at Gould was not a grand feat, merely representative of his approach to life, itself—for everything that Bill touched, or attempted, or even thought about turned to platinum. He had vision, and that vision was not restricted to the boardroom. Bill Ylvisaker was larger-than-life, and at the same time made life richer and more real for everyone around himself. He did everything right: he graduated from Yale with a Baccalaureate in Engineering, following two years in the US Naval Reserves during World War II. From his first professional job at Bank of New York to his founding of the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club and subsequently, his purchase of the Saratoga Polo Association—he sought to create, to do and to be the best that he could. He found others of the same ilk, and encouraged colleagues and youths to strive for their best. Nothing can be written about Bill that will surprise you—for if you knew him, you knew that you were among the fortunate. If you didn’t know him, you knew of him. The communities in which he had homes were the better for it, for he saw opportunities for enrichment and seized the moment. Saratoga was among those neighborhoods enriched by his presence and his presents. When he purchased Saratoga Polo in 1999, he had already established himself as a player on the field and member of the Board. He knew Saratoga Polo intimately, and he wanted to make it the best it could become. He poured in excess of $1.5 million into upgrades on the facility’s fields and buildings. He established events that became fixtures of the Saratoga summer. He sold it in 2003, not because he’d tired of the place, the play or the people, but simply because he wanted more time for his family and other businesses. Saratoga was always close to
18 | Equicurean 2010
the heart of Bill Ylvisaker, and he will always be part of the warp and weft of the lush field and the spirit of the Saratoga Polo Association. Bill Ylvisaker lived large. He gave generously, of himself and of his resources. His insight and wisdom, and desire to teach others the art and science of playing polo and living fully were his best gifts, of all. Indeed, he was a brilliant businessman; passionate horse lover and polo player and dedicated father whose commitment to his children was as legendary as his full-tilt expression of joy when he played polo. Bill died having lived exquisitely, beautifully and as an example. His focus is to be emulated; his great loves, envied. William T. Ylvisaker died in 2010, but the legacy he left his family, his businesses and his sport—the thing that mattered so much, that informed the very foundation of his thinking and actions in other arenae—will live on forever. Thank you, Bill, for all you gave the world—thank you, especially, for giving Saratoga Polo a direction, a mission and a very, truly high goal: that of being a world-class polo association where the finest, brightest and best come to play, to strive and to achieve. Thank you, Bill, for these gifts and oh, somuch-more.
Bill loved polo, and polo loved Bill right back. He achieved more on the field than can be recounted—among his achievements as a polo player and administrator: • Top-rated at 7 goals, 1957 • U.S. Polo Association, Chairman, 1970-75; and Governor or Officer, 1950 to present • Polo Training Foundation, Founder and Chairman, 1966-1980; Director 1980 to present • Started first Polo Newsletter, 1959 which subsequently became Polo Magazine • Initiated first polo schools after World War II • Palm Beach Polo and Country Club, Founder and Developer • Played on U.S. team winning Coronation Cup in England, 1973 and 1974 • Played on U.S. team winning against Australia, 1976 • Played on teams winning U.S. Open (3), National 20-Goal (4), Monty Waterbury Cup (1), National Inter-circuit (2), National 12-Goal (1), International Open (1) and Continental Cup (2)
Women’s Polo: Taking the Reins The Polo Girls are not a new band comprised of daft females who carry pocket-sized dogs in their purses. They are not models for Ralph Lauren. They are strong, smart, driven young women with a very simple mission: to grow the sport of polo, one girl at a time. Each Polo Girl has a story, of how she fell in love with the sport of polo. For Elizabeth (Libby) Scripps, it was that she grew up in Wellington, Florida, and had been on horses since age three, and was involved in hunter and show jumping by age six. She found it to be stressful and
painstaking, but when her young eye spied polo players—riding like the wind, holding on like cowgirls in jodhpurs, taking no prisoners—she found her calling. Libby Scripps knew who she was, in that moment of seeing horse and rider united for the purpose of charging head-first into the fray. She had found polo—and polo took over her thoughts and energy, henceforth. The sport of polo—and all equine sports—are better for that moment of selfrealization, for Libby Scripps is a genuine mover and shaker, whose Polo Girl Society is making waves not just in the US, but around the world.
Equicurean 2010 | 19
Elizabeth (Libby) Scripps
20 | Equicurean 2010
The Polo Girls bring tremendous business acumen and street savvy to their organization, and to the girls who benefit from their labors. Multiply this academic, intellectual, athletic and spirited woman times several, and you get an idea of the pure energy that brought about The Polo Girls Society and their single-minded desire to convert the world. This unique group is exceptionally well-organized, because Scripps attracts others of like mind, abilities and passions. The Polo Girls Society is a registered, non-profit organization created in order to introduce polo to those who might not otherwise know that the sport is available to all, regardless of circumstance. To provide scholarships to women around the world, females who want to play polo. Simply put, their mission as stated on their website (www.thepologirls.com) is: to develop and prepare a new generation of polo players by providing polo development, scholarships, resources, opportunities and advocacy to the Polo Community. The Polo Girls have teamed up with American Charities Foundation, a non-profit organization that holds a brilliant and commendable primary objective: to inspire and influence children through the magic of horses by teaching them how to skillfully build a productive, successful life through leadership. (http://www.acfchildren.org/index.html ) The Polo Girls Society has the support and admiration of four of America's leading educational institutions: Harvard, University of Virginia, University of Southern California, Texas Christian University, and Texas A & M. One need not wonder about the pedigrees of these exceptional young woman: Libby Scripps is representative of The Polo Girls, and her bio reads like that of a brilliantly well-rounded, accomplished woman. It's difficult to comprehend that she's only 28. This means that she's been playing polo for 21 years, but also that, at an age when many peers are still figuring out their life directionâ€”Scripps has been living hers for more than two decades. (A sample of the exhaustive and fascinating resume: As the President of Development and Founder of the Polo Girls Society, and Street Soccer Productions, Scripps is an entrepreneur and experienced producer. Working as writer, producer, director and editor, Scripps worked with her husband to create the street soccer movies, The Squad and Street Sessions, which won awards for Best Action Sports Film at Cannes and Los Angeles Film Festival. Prior to founding Street Soccer Productions, Scripps worked for DreamWorks Animation and Heartbreak Productions, LLC. She recently launched a production company, Libby Productions, which specializes in development of TV content and production services. Libby Productions is based in Pittsburgh and Palm Beach. She holds a Baccalaureate in Organizational and Non-Profit
Leadership from Duquesne. She is a member of the Darlington Polo Club; Chair of Education and Career for the Propel Board.) "Driven" is such an inadequate word to describe the fearless founder of The Polo Girls Society. Other adjectives that may begin to say it include, "visionary," "community-minded," "gifted" and "organizational diva." Without Scripps' extraordinary ability to see the big picture and logically dice out the steps required to make it happen—The Polo Girls Society would be a nice idea on a drawing board, somewhere in Wellington. One look at Libby Scripps' resume and achievements, and you realize that all the members of The Pony Girls Society are sharp, focused and on-target. They have goals, and they intend to reach them—one new polo player at a time. When passion is driving the car—or riding the horse, in this case—clarity of vision takes over and goals are achieved. The Polo Girls Society is a group of brilliant, gifted athletes and businesswomen who are determined that anyone who wants to play polo should have that opportunity. Mallets in-hand, these women go out across the field not just for their own pleasure or to win a match: every time a Polo Girl leaps upon her steed, all girls, all women, everywhere, benefit. That's a heavy responsibility, but one which Libby Scripps and her colleagues bear with joy.
Equicurean 2010 | 21
A Sport for only the Strongest of Warriors The warriors mount their horses, and fly headlong into battle. One hand gripping the leather of the reins, their weapons firmly grasped in the other, they take on the facial expressions and ferocity of their steeds. Necks arched, veins pulsing as they charge forward— defeat is not an option. Blood courses through their veins in rapid-fire, as the very thought of the competition ahead stirs their hearts and rallies the troops. This is not a meeting for the weak-kneed, but only for those females for whom blood, sweat and adrenalin are the chemicals of choice. These warriors, these women of mighty spirit, have come together from all over the world to compete against worthy opponents. This is the stuff of which legends and lore are born, and of which history is made. These contemporary warriors are women who play polo, and do so with all the gusto, blaze and discipline
of the most-famous of ancient female fighters. These women come from every corner of the globe to compete on the battleground known as a polo field. Only one platoon can win any given match—and neither is willing to concede. This is not a Sport for Sissies. This sport is populated by females who live and breathe for that rush of pounding down the field astride their ponies; Of being that one player who, with a whack of her mallet, smashes the ball with enough force to shatter a windshield and makes the goal. The physical and mental requirements to be a successful polo player of either gender are demanding beyond the imagination. The speed of the game—the fact that horses tire after 7.5 minutes and fresh horses are brought in to replace them—is testimony to the strength and energy that is required to succeed in this game. The women don't get a break: no "fresh women" are brought in to ride out the remainder of the match.
They're in it to win it, from the first moment until the final horn. No official programs will utilize adjectives that denote any particularly feminine traits, such as "perky," "diminutive," "blonde" or "cute." Such language would serve only to aggravate a polo player of the female gender, who want to be judged for their talents and bravery on the battlefield. Their skills and mental acuity must be equal-to those of their male counterparts. Think instead of describers that aren't loaded with build-in prejudices: "gritty," "powerful" and "driven" are almost adequate to depict the inner guts of these athletes who have worked long and hard to earn a place on the team, and in the world standings. While these words may indicate masculine traits if read or heard through the lens of culture, they are, in fact, used to portray polo players of either gender. Virago: Claiming the Insult. In the Middle Ages in Europe, women who were strong, smart, educated and who had a vision were called a Virago. This was not a compliment, but rather indicated that such
Equicurean 2010 | 23
a brilliant individual was masculine. The "positive spin" on it was that she was almost good enough to be a man. Women such as Saint Catherine of Siena and Trotula, an 11th Century doctor of great influence—were Viragae. Christine de Pisan, Boudicca—indeed, the same. Women from every walk of life were subject to this labeling if they didn't tow the line. Athletes, medical professionals, theologians, entrepreneurs. No walk of life was exempt from the use of this word which was intended to cause enough of a sting to make a female think twice before stepping out and changing her corner of the world. But any negative word can be turned around, and claimed by those it's intended to hurt—thereby making it a good thing, even a rallying cry. A women's polo team should be named, Virago—if none already exists. Or perhaps the entire league of worldwide female polo players are, already Viragae by the fact of their participation in this magnificent sport. Truly they are strong, smart,
24 | Equicurean 2010
capable, gifted athletes. They take no prisoners, and are respected and admired by their male counterparts on polo teams around the world. As you watch women's polo in Saratoga this year, close your eyes as you sit enthroned like a royal at a Medieval jousting tournament. Take in the scents and sounds around you. Hear the athletes on the field—equine and human, alike—as they grunt, yelp and shout directions to each other. Close your eyes, and envision these women of tremendous strength and focus, coming on horseback to defend you. In that moment, know that— if that were the scenario—you would be safe, indeed, for all the traits of a great polo player—which happen to be the same attributes necessary for success in war—are embodied in these mounted soldiers. Women's polo is the thrill of victory—the notion of defeat is not entertained by any on the field. This fact, alone, makes for a thrilling match—a match made in Heaven. And on Whitney Field.
Equicurean 2010 | 25
Women’s Week Saratoga Polo at
David Yurman and Frank Adams Jewelers present
Women’s Week at Saratoga Polo
July 28 - August 1
26 | Equicurean 2010
By Ruth Fein Wallens
ome of the best women polo players in the world arrive in Saratoga this week, from around the country and across the globe. And with them comes all the excitement of a world-class polo tournament – the Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge. All of the players may not don colorfully ribboned ponytails, pulled up and under. But the ponies do. Their tails are tied narrow and neat and doubled up short – not for the fashion but for function. A loose, billowing tail might get in the way of a player’s mallet or vision. As the players fly in with their gear, polo ponies pull into town without even a notice. After all, it’s summer in Saratoga, where horse trailers aren’t exactly traffic stoppers, where thoroughbreds have the pleasure of peoplewatching. More than 30 female polo players will fill out eight allfemale teams, beginning Wednesday, July 28 and culminating in a finals match Sunday, August 1. Some teams sport women who play together regularly. As is typical in polo, many teams are assembled for this specific tournament, with women who may never have played side-byside before they arrive here. Truly an international tournament, this second annual Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge draws key players from across the U.S. and Canada, as well as from England, the Netherlands, Argentina, Kenya, Dubai and West Africa. The athleticism of the horses is matched only by the skill of the players – each dependent on the other for control, knowledge of the sport, and the anticipation so critical to the jolting starts and stops and plays that raise leaders to the top of their game. Each player is likely to ride three to four different
The Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge At Saratoga Polo Wednesday, July 28 – Sunday, August 1 Historic Whitney Fields Corner Denton and Bloomfield Roads Five minutes from downtown Saratoga Springs Gates open 4 p.m. Matches begin 5:30 p.m. Clubhouse Admission $25 per person General Admission $25 per carload
Equicurean 2010 | 27
ponies during a match. It is the equine sport of a different training. And after a typical seven-minute period, or chukker, even these premier ponies are ready for a rest. While the women players captivate spectators with the action they bring to the field, Women’s Week sponsors will present a number of special events, including a Veuve Clicquot Champagne reception, and a showcase from designer David Yurman’s collection of contemporary jewelry and watches, presented by Frank Adams Jewelers. If you come for the final match, be prepared to stay for the trophy ceremonies, complete with the “Sabre a Champagne” in honor of tradition and Saratoga Polo sponsor Veuve Clicquot. Also called “the Sabrage,” this is the art of beheading a bottle of champagne with the quick stroke of a small sword or “sabre.” Players and spectators come together for the ceremony to share in the revelry of the winners and the glory of the age-old “sport of kings.” For tickets and information about Women’s Week at Saratoga Polo, contact Saratoga Polo at 518.584.8108 or online at SaratogaPolo.com.
28 | Equicurean 2010
Equicurean 2010 | 29
Neku Atawodi: Nigeria's Gift to Saratoga Polo Photos by Sharon Castro
"Well-behaved women rarely make history." - Eleanor Roosevelt Neku Atawodi is a rock star. She doesn't possess the rock star attitude or travel with an entourage, but when she enters a room or a polo field—her presence is noted. And not because she's the only black female polo player currently plying her trade in the United States. One cannot help but detect Neku because she is interpersonally powerful—and that is rare in a 22year-old. At least in America. She carries herself with a confidence and selfawareness that's uncommon, even among those who have lived half-a-century. It's rare to encounter anyone, anymore, who embodies aplomb, serenity and intellectual savvy in one package—but these traits are all evident in the athlete from Africa who has landed with a thump on the doorstep of the Saratoga Polo Association. Neku is from Nigeria by way of the UK, and is spending the summer of 2010 as Assistant Polo Manager and house player at Saratoga Polo. Saratoga is blessed to have Atawodi on the team and in the house, for this is a singularly unique woman. She epitomizes a grace and quiet self-assurance that oozes out of her pores—until she is in the saddle. Once astride a polo pony, she rides with strength and
30 | Equicurean 2010
focus, holding her pony with one hand while belting the mallet into the ball with such force that we wait to see if the small plastic orb explodes. She isn't self-absorbed or unkind. She doesn't use substances that would negatively affect her ability to play polo. She's centered and single-minded. She's not elitist, an image with which many in polo are strapped. She's quite un-elitist, in fact: she states that she is "…all about getting polo to more people, to widen the demographic." This is a woman who has a vision, and that vision was born the first time her parents told her that she couldn't play polo. Anyone who's spent time with her will testify that it makes complete sense that that edict fueled her desire and steeled her resolve. She is a self-confessed ADHD patient, and declares that merely riding (English) could not hold her attention. At age 16 she turned her energies and innate need to move, and to move swiftly, to polo. She was Born to do This. As a child, she was allowed to take riding lessons—but these lessons consisted of doing figure 8s for two hours
at a time, a repetitious exercise that drove Neku to distraction. She turned her attention to polo: the speed, daredevilish onehanded riding and challenge was far more interesting than doing infinity signs for hours on end. A love affair was born, and her parents were terrified. With alarming candor she reveals that her parents came close to disowning her because of her stubborn insistence that this sport was her destiny: it was only recently, after seven years in polo, that her father told Neku that he was proud of her. Her countenance softened, her smile beamed as she recounted this story. She loves her parents deeply: their approval was the brass ring which she'd sought the entire time. Educated in the UK, she received her Baccalaureate in Science (Equine Sports Performance, with Honours) from Plumpton College (University of Brighton) in 2007, and a Masters in International Business from Regent's UK in 2009. With a string of chuckles she recalls that, during her final tests, she cried
Bella Matata = "Beautiful Trouble" Bella Matata is the name of Neku's allAfrica women's polo team, a name that is both tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious. "Bella Matata," you see, is Italian and Swahili for, "Beautiful Trouble."
Equicurean 2010 | 31
32 | Equicurean 2010
because riding polo-style was not allowed: she had to ride using both hands, and it frustrated her so much that her teacher, Brenda Smith, was concerned. Neku told Professor Smith through her tears that she hated riding with two hands. She passed with flying colors, two hands and all. An afternoon spent with this polo star is time spent in another land: her Nigerian heritage can be heard and felt, even through her English accent. An ancientness, a connection to her sport and her horses is known through her fond recollection of her beloved steeds who are on a farm in Berkshire, UK, while she is in America. She chirps that America is wonderfully embracing, a great discovery early-on. Apparently the British are a tad more serious about many things, including even a pick-up polo match. One cannot help but wonder: if Neku Atawodi is so on-target, so determined on the fields of Saratoga (which she claims to be a more genial atmosphere than almost anywhere else in the world) how much more intense could she be? Is it possible that she's even more driven in other places? She's played in Kenya, Dubai, Morocco and Indiaâ€”and in every place, the girl who thought she'd die doing figure 8s shows herself to be strong, smart, capable andâ€”a trailblazer. Neku Atawodi is a star. This star shoots across the sky over Saratoga for just one season, and then she will be trotting, cantering and galloping full-out across the world. Do not miss the opportunity to witness this talent, this gift to American polo, while her star shines in our corner of the Universe.
Equicurean 2010 | 33
Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic Draws Royals, Rockers and Revelry to New York’s Governors Island Story by Ruth Fein Wallens The ferry docks only 800 yards from Lower Manhattan to a transformed Governor’s Island. The celebrity photo extravaganza begins just through the gate, then a calming walk through an aisle of pines, atop a cocoa-scented path of bark. Before you, a sea of yellow, unmistakably signature Veuve Clicquot ; fields of yellow picnic blankets and billowing umbrellas; and the legendary yellow label champagne, everywhere. The famed “royalty” of the performing arts, and of the design world, and high society have come together with thousands of enthusiastic New Yorkers for what has become one of the most unique and celebrated events of the year, the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, June 27, 2010. And while the hats are extraordinary and the
His Royal Highness Prince Harry
34 | Equicurean 2010
star-gazing is certainly at play, it is the excitement of polo, and the face-off of His Royal Highness Prince Harry and world-renowned Argentinean polo player Nacho Figueras captivating conversation. As the action begins, it is clear why polo is not just the sport of kings. History and glamour aside, it is a fast-paced game in which skilled players ride atop trained thoroughbreds, balancing reins and mallet with the speed and agility of an athletic “pony” adept at starting, stopping and changing direction in a split second, all while working to hit a small ball to a teammate and position a goal. By half time, while the traditional divot stomping draws hundreds of VIP guests to the field, waves of cheers come from the public admission sidelines. Thousands of fans juggle position for a chance to high-five the extended hand of a charismatic Figueras as he runs past, offering his own brand of exhilaration to the scene.
Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge Schedule During the Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge, July 28-August 1 at Saratoga Polo’s historic Whitney Fields, matches are scheduled for Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Scheduled matches begin at 5:30 p.m. For more information, and for updates on additional matches and special events, visit www.saratogapolo.com.
Team Black Watch
Equicurean 2010 | 35
Ivanka Trump & Rachel Roy
36 | Equicurean 2010
With sold-out attendance at 12,000 spectators, double last year, and broad national press coverage, this third exhibition charity match for the American Friends of Sentebale is designed to expose more Americans to its cause. “Every day, at least 100 more children in this beautiful country have their lives devastated by the loss of a parent,” Kedge Martin, CEO of Sentebale, tells the crowd. “They must drop out of school to become caretakers for their relatives, getting exposed to abuse, vulnerable to exploitation.” Sentebale, which means “forget me not,” was founded in 2006 by Britain’s Royal Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of the Lesotho Royal Family. Lesotho is a land-locked country completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa, where extreme poverty and the third highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world has left an estimated 400,000 orphans and vulnerable children. “Iconic events such as this are crucial to raising awareness,” says Martin, “and supporting our mission to make a real difference in the lives of the most needy children.” “I’m honored to meet Prince Harry on the field once again for this spectacular New York event,” said Nacho Figueras before the match. Figueras is captain of the
defending Black Watch Team and the face of Ralph Lauren Polo Fragrances. “This is a unique opportunity to bring my passion for the sport of polo together with the worthy cause of Sentebale, a charity very close to my heart,” he said. By the end of the final “chukker,” or quarter, Figueras is also honored to win. Final score: 6-5. Veuve Clicquot has a long association with polo in England with the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup, and now in the United States with the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic. The second annual Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge comes to Saratoga Polo July 28th – August 1st. This year’s world-class tournament sports eight teams and more than 30 female players from around the globe.
Starshell & Mary J. Blige
Equicurean 2010 | 37
Kentucky Hosts the World Photos by Bob Langrish As flags unfurl, bands play and horses prance at the opening ceremonies for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, hearts and spirits will soar far above the famed Blue Grass for which Kentucky is known, for 2010 marks the first year that the World Equestrian Games will be held outside of Europe. FEI—the Fédération Equestre Internationale— chose the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington as the location for the international gathering of the world's greatest equestrian athletes—and Lexington has risen to the occasion. Alltech—a Lexington-based, international company that produces exceptional nutritional products for horses and other animals—stepped up to the plate as sponsor for the event, and Kentucky exhaled. Then they began the two year
38 | Equicurean 2010
process of planning the world's biggest party for participants of equestrian sports. This is a singularly enormous achievement for the administrators of the Kentucky Horse Park; the city of Lexington and the government and tourism offices that came together to participate in the delicate dance of courtship. FEI could have chosen any location in the world, if they were just looking to get out of Europe for a few weeks. But they chose Lexington and the Horse Park because of Alltechs commitment to create an environment that is absolutely up to regulation, as well as being an inviting place to which athletes and fans from all over the world would come in droves. FEI was founded in 1921 in Lausanne, France—but the organization rightfully traces the importance of horsesport to the year 680 B.C.E., when the Ancient Olympic Games were first played. Clearly, equestrian sports have long been an enterprise that captured the imaginations and competitive drive of hundreds of thousands of Ancient and contemporary Olympians for many millennia. FEI has kept careful watch on equestrian sports since its inception, and assures that not only is the history of equestrian athletics carefully guarded, but also that the future is assured—willing the
passion to new generations of horse lovers who take up the mantle. FEI's elected President is the gracious Olympic athlete, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan—wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai. HRH Princess Haya has worked diligently and with great sense of gravitas—to assure that this WEG (as the games are known in shorthand)—is far-andaway the most spectacular, ever. At the same time, the President is watchful to assure that every horsesport represented at the event is well-represented and meets all official standards. A large job for a woman who, herself, is involved as a competitor; Thoroughbred owner and ambassador for world peace. Each job that she approaches, Princess Haya does with great grace and seriousness of intention—and her role as President of FEI is no different. Eight disciplines will be represented during the 16 days of competition from September 25th through October 10th: Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Jumping, Vaulting, Reining, Endurance Riding and Para Dressage. Each sport has its own set of rules, regulations and enormous fanbase: it is anticipated that 600,000 tickets will be sold, and sold-out. It is anticipated that some 57 countries will be represented by over 800 athletes. The games have been held every four years, halfway between each pair of consecutive Summer Olympic Games, since 1990. Before 1990, all ten of the FEI's individual disciplines held separate championships, usually in separate countries. It is a great honour for Kentucky to host the series of competitions that together comprise the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. It is a privilege to provide within the pages of Equicurean, this outline of the great festival of equine athleticism and the humans who pair with their faithful steeds to do, to be and to compete at the highest levels in their respective arenae. To find out more about the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games visit: http://www.alltechfeigames.com/
Equicurean 2010 | 39
HOME SWEET HOME Photos by Connie Bush Story By Helen Susan Edelman
For Retired Thoroughbreds
The vision of a retirement farm for racehorses, where they could live their post-career years with dignity, first came to Michael Blowen in 2001. “I was on the porch of the Washington Inn on South Broadway for the opening day of the track, which I celebrated like a religious holiday,” says Blowen, a former writer for The Boston Globe, “and I realized this was something that had to be done and I had to do it.” The inspiration was the impetus for Blowen to found Old Friends, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing safe harbor for thoroughbreds whose glory days are behind them. “You can accomplish a lot if you don’t mind failing,” he remarks. “And I set out to prove that the horses could earn money even after they retire.” The spectacular concept first became Dream Chase Farm in Kentucky, where the animated Blowen and his wife, Diane, now live. Indeed, more than 90 horses on his property earn their keep, drawing visitors who make donations to tour the facility, stay on the premises in a bed and
“When you look into a horse’s eyes, you realize how much they bring.”
Connie Bush has a small photography business," Tiger Eye Photo." She sell her images locally at Art shows and some galleries. Her work will soon be in the Sorelle Gallery. Her images have been published in "Saratoga Living Magazine," "The Saratoga Special," "The Steeplechase Times." and other publications. Find her at Art in the Park on August 24, during Travers week. She specializes in images of the track and Saratoga. She can be reached at 581-7212 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
40 | Equicurean 2010
Equicurean 2010 | 41
breakfast, buy souvenirs and purchase shares in the proud, beautiful animals. With Dream Chase Farm secure, last year Blowen established Old Friends’s first satellite in Greenfield Center -- Cabin Creek Farm-The Bobby Frankel Division, owned and operated by area natives JoAnn and Mark Pepper, who got involved when they heard about Blowen’s work in Kentucky and contacted him to ask about replicating the model. The facility was named to honor a man ESPN called “one of the most respected trainers in thoroughbred racing history” and a National Racing Hall of Fame inductee. Ten retired thoroughbreds live in felicitous comfort at Cabin Creek, including: Travers winner Thunder Rumble; stakes winners Watchem Smokey and New Export; America’s loveable loser, Zippy Chippy; Saratoga favorite Karakorum Patriot, the resilient and successful Midnight Secret, headliner Moonshadow Gold, the beloved Red Down South, Whitney Stakes champion Will’s Way and the memorable Cool N Collective. Cabin Creek is a verdant, hilly and wooded 40-acre expanse, of which Mark Pepper has virtually singlehandedly cleared 12 for paddocks. He also constructed an immaculate and spacious barn to house the honored equine guests, each in a well-ventilated 16by-16 stall. The property is leased by Old Friends for the purpose of caring for pensioned horses, and the Peppers are wholly absorbed by the project. “When you look into a horse’s eyes, you realize how much they bring, individually, to a relationship,” says JoAnn Pepper. “The trust these 1,200-pound animals have in you is just awesome.” The horses are immeasurably breathtaking. Cavorting, muzzling, grazing, posing for photographs, sidling up for a rub on the nose or a carrot, alert in concentration or in repose, the animals move with the confidence and grace of athletes. It is not a stretch to imagine – or remember -- these icons of speed galloping to the shouts and cheers of their fans the world over, once upon a time. But they are within reach, now, calm and gorgeous in the grass, approachable, even asking for attention. The miracle of their accessibility is made possible by individuals and groups that provide funds to care for the retired thoroughbreds.
42 | Equicurean 2010
Visit Cabin Creek Farm-The Bobby Frankel Division at no charge at 483 Sand Hill Road, Greenfield Center. Donations gratefully accepted to support the ongoing operation of the facility. For more information or to arrange a group tour, call JoAnn Pepper at 518-698-2377. Details at www.oldfriendsequine.org.