Thursday, March 14, 2013

Back to The Shed ~ Daybreak at Darley

On the way to the Breeding Shed with Guest Blogger Lindsay Hunter

Daybreak at Darley 3.12.13

With the time change, the Corgis and I were rolling out at 5am in the pitch dark to get to the farm to hitch to the trailer and be at the pick up destination by 6.30. The red and yellow clearance lights on the sides of gooseneck seemed like bright sparks in the dark, and the mare loaded easily when I flicked on the interior lighting. We set off for Darley, meeting very little traffic along the way, me and Garth Brooks pounding out “Ain’t Goin ’Down til the Sun Comes Up “ on the steering wheel.
As I pulled up to the wrought iron gate with brass spires along the top, and watched it slowly open, I could see trailer lights pulling up over the rock lined drive to the breeding shed, so I knew I wasn’t first in line.
The mare in the trailer was a maiden, going to be bred for the first time, She stood quiet and well behaved, ready for her date with Street Cry. Stud fee : $150,000.
Sitting in the big parking apron, I had a good view of the Darley acres in two directions. One by one I watched the stall lights flick on in the barns over toward Military Pike. Head lights and tail lights wove their way along tentacles of blacktop that linked the barns to the main areas . People came and went, day crew arriving to set the day’s routine in motion, night watchmen heading home after a long shift foaling mares or checking on their precious charges.
Soon the breeding shed came alive too, and more vans slowly rolled over the hill, carrying mares ready to be bred.
Joe, with his usual cheerful greeting, collected envelopes containing the required shed forms, clean culture slips and any pertinent instructions for each mare. He tells me to bring the mare to holding stall # 2, and she unloads quietly, with all the class and composure of a good mare twice her age.
Street Cry by European sire Machiavellian and out of Helen Street (GB) is the sire of the incomparable Zenyatta, whose earnings of over $7 million dollars in 19 wins, defeated only in her last start, making her a household name and crowd favorite with her own fan club. Street Cry has sired 13 G1 winners, including Street Sense, (winner of $4,383,200 ) Shocking ($3,953,726 ) , Street Boss, Desert Party, and numerous others.
No stranger to the winner’s circle, Street Cry won the Dubai World Cup, and the Stephen Foster Handicap, with a 3 rd in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile at two. Now he also shuttles to Australia for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season.
The mare is just as sensible in the wash stocks and lets Joe wrap her tail in the flesh colored gauze bandage favored in the breeding sheds. On into the shed, and Phillip takes charge, carefully positioning her as Street Cry walks down from the closest stallion barn. Four men are positioned around her, one on the head, one on the tail, two ready to steady the stallion if needed. Darley’s vet hovers close by, ready to take the dismount (semen ) sample in a little white cup and read it under the microscope
By now it is daylight and an early morning chill pervades the waiting area, the rubber lined floor wet from a fresh disinfecting spray. Soon the big doors slide apart and the mare is handed off to me and we make our way out into the cold sunshine and load back in the trailer.
As I drive back along Man O War Blvd, now humming with rush hour commuters, I wonder if we have just created another champion runner ?

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