Double Header Part 1 ~ A Visit to Arch Arch Arch
Spendthrift March 19
Up before the chickens this morning, rolled onto Overbrook in the pitch dark, and loaded I’m A Goodlooker by the lights of the trailer, taking her away from her pretty chestnut foal. We snaked through the farm along the tree lined lanes, being careful to stay between the large landscaping rocks strategically placed to discoyurage drivers from getting on the grass. Traffic was sparse at this early morning hour, and we made it around Lexington and up Paris Pike in no time at all.
Destination : Spendthrift Farm. Date for the day : ArchArchArch
Bred similarly to Horse of the Year Blame, ArchArchArch is by, you guessed it , Claiborne stallion Arch, and out of a Woodman mare.(Woodman being by Mr. Prospector, so same cross as Blame ). Fast and courageous, ArchArchArch could lay off the pace and with a steady burst of speed, come from behind , which he did to win the G1 Arkansas Derby, with career earnings of $832,744.
Purchased in 1937, Spendthrift Farm was named by Leslie Combs 11 for the great grandfather of Man O War, who was owned by Comb’s great grandfather,, Daniel Swigert, of Elmendorf Farm, just next door. Combs developed a vast stallion operation, at one time standing 26 stallions at Spendthrift. It was the first Thoroughbred farm to be publicly traded on the stock market, until the crash of the Thoroughbred industry in the early 80’s, which led to it’s demise, and it was sold and parceled out. Leslie Combs died in 1990, but left a legacy and history with Spendthrift that would be hard to emulate today.
B. Wayne Hughes purchased the Spendthrift property in 2004, and with his team of Ken Wilkins, Ned Toffey and Des Dempsey, has turned Spendthrift around with a carefully managed Stallion Roster.
Dawn breaks over the trees, and more vans and trailers roll into the parking area. 10 mares are on the morning sheets, and I’m A Goodlooker is third in line. Drivers stand around the teasing and wash rack area, chatting about yesterdays storm. Coffee is brewing in the observation room, if anyone wants it. Wayne Howard , Breeding Shed Manager, cup of coffee in hand, calls for the first mare.
As soon as my mare enters the shed, I slip around to snap photos of ArchArchArch as he walks from the new Stallion Barn. Behind me is the original horseshoe shaped stallion barn of Leslie Comb’s time, with the bronze of Nashua and groom Clem Brooks and the plaque for Raise A Native in the foreground, by the horse’s graves.
In the tongue and groove paneled breeding shed, mostly covered in protective black foam padding, are still displayed the brass nameplates of Spendthrift racehorses, row upon row, since the 1960’s framed on the walls above the padding.
A new addition to the comfortable observation room, is a computer screen displaying information on all Spendthrift’s current stallions, or if you are outwaiting a slow breeder in the shed, internet access . Yay !
Soon I’m A Goodlooker is bred, and I whisk her back across town to her hungry baby, who waits by the stall door, but jumps back when the mare enters, uncertain if this is really his mother. One quick pull of the milkbar, and he decides she’ll do anyway.