Thursday, March 7, 2013

Back to The Shed ~ Ashford in morning WinStar in the evening

A double-header for Guest Blogger Lindsay Hunter, Ashford in the a.m. to visit Capo Blanco, and WinStar in the evening, for Bellamy Road.

Ashford Stud 2/28/13

The sky was grey and chilly as I drove out Highway 60, the Lexington Road past Versailles. Snowflakes swirled around the truck like the blossoms of cherry trees losing their petals in the spring. Out past Fred Seitz’ Brookdale Farm on the left, on past Stonestreet’s impressive gates with the brass plaques. Thinking about Rachel Alexandra and her recent plight post foaling, I was soon past the tall electric pylon and looking for the small white sign that signaled the turn into Ashford’s breeding shed entrance. 
Driving trough the double iron gates, down the long curving avenue landscaped with trees and shrubs, I thought back about the original Ashford that Dr. William Lockridge developed in the ‘70’s, a 456 acre cattle farm, that since its’ acquisition in the 80’, Coolmore America has stretched to cover 2000 rolling Bluegrass acres, and the wonderful stone barns and buildings that dot the property. 
Storm Bird, the sire of the mighty Storm Cat, stood at Ashford, but now numerous stallions with international influence hail Ashford as their home.
Today I have a mare for the young stallion, Cape Blanco, a son of Europe’s most revered stallion, Galileo, Winner of the Man ‘O War Stakes, and the Irish Derby, racing on both sides of the pond. She is a maiden, and although well behaved, comes with a few instructions. Calli, the new breeding shed manager since Niall Power has gone to Coolmore’s operation in Australia, comes out to get the papers and notes the instructions.
She behaves well in the wash stocks, but on the side of caution, they give her a little tranquilizer and she soon drops her head.
Beside me in the blue padded holding stalls are two other mares. Billy from Brookledge has the mare in front of me, who is being bred to Hansen. We are all waiting, because the stallion in the shed, Giant’s Causweway, the Iron Horse, is known to take his time. 
When Billy’s mare goes in, I slip into the observation lounge to see Hansen, who I haven’t seen since dying his tail Wildcat Blue for his trip in the West Virginia Derby. He looks handsome as ever, gleaming white like his sire, Tapit, at Gainesway, and literally prances into the shed, playful as ever.
I take back my sleeping mare, and soon our turn is up. Cape Blanco, an impressive chestnut, walks quietly through the big double doors that lead into the shed from the two stallion barns, separate stone barns where each stallion has a brass plaqued nameplate on the front of his spacious, straw lined stall. They spend most of their time romping in individual double fenced paddocks that sweep away from the stallion barns, in equine luxury.
Quickly he breeds the maiden, and soon the tail wrap is off, she steps her hind feet out of the protective padded leather boots (to protect the stallion should she kick) and we are out on the canopied dock and back to the trailer.
Back through Versailles, and I soon have her home to her farm. It’s barely 8.30 but seems like half a day, and I decide to check out the Keeneland Warehouse Sale to see what bargains I can snag this year. 

A WinStar Evening Out 2/28/13

I drove the winding backroads through picturesque Jessamine County where I live, to avoid the construction happening on Versailles Rd, between bustling New Circle Road and the Bluegrass Parkway interchange, including RIGHT IN FRONT OF KEENELAND ! I can just imagine what getting to the spring meet in April is going to be like, but maybe they will have done whatever they’re doing in that section by then. 
Snuck through the evening rush hour commuters to follow Pisgah Pike on past the historic Pisgah Church, round the horseshoe bend and over the railroad track past Dr Fishback’s Trackside Farm (not Tom Evans’ Trackside Farm further out in Versailles) and along the road frontage of Brittany Farm, one of the remaining Standardbred nurseries in the Bluegrass, since lack of racing dates and incentives forced the majority of Standardbred breeders to relocate to New Jersey. Up and down the hills, noting that the purple and white cow (like our Horse Mania horses) has changed direction in the field off to the right.
Turning left at the crossroads, I could see WinStar’s Security man waiting to check me in. The usual question “Who is your mare breeding to ? “ and the correct answer gains one access through the gate.
I was a little early, hoping that by being first, I could get in and out of there in optimum time. The lights shone through the big windows in the new breeding shed complex, as I pulled into the carefully marked parking area, and I left Solo in the truck and walked inside.
Ever cordial, Tony Cissell was just setting the evening session in gear, and soon returned with Spot, the plum pudding marked Leopard App teaser. Spot is a veteran, and very good at his job. The mare, also with several foals to her credit, knew exactly what was expected of her, and showed herself to be ‘hot’ in heat and ready for breeding.
Her date for the evening, dressed in his best black suit, walked regally down the connecting aisle from his stall in the stallion barn. The overhead lights reflected off his polished coat, and his full, thick tail swung gracefully behind him, surely the envy of many show horses. Bellamy Road, an eleven year old son of Concerto, distinguished himself by winning the G1 Wood Memorial by 17 lengths, equaling the track record set 40 years ago by Riva Ridge. Proving himself not only as a racehorse, but more importantly as a sire, he duplicated himself in siring Toby’s Corner, also the winner of the Wood Memorial, and proved himself to be more than a one trick pony, in siring the undefeated juvenile, Chatfield Road.
By the time the mare was bred and returned to the trailer, only the stars were lighting up the night sky. Just as I was loading, another trailer pulled into the complex, but I was set on “go” to head back to drop off the mare and wind my way across the now quiet country lanes to home.

For more of Lindsay, find her here, on her FaceBook page.

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