Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gorgeous George

Turf Beat has experienced some serious neglect recently. What can I say other than life gets in the way? But I have now completed my thesis, and thus completed university, so my goal is to devote more time to the blog.

I'm going to start back with some words on a horse that holds a special place in my heart. Those of us who have spent time on breeding farms know that while we often have recollections of many horses, there are a special few who grab our heartstrings and never let go. One of those horses for me was D's Wando. It seems natural that I would fall for a colt from the first crop of my beloved Wando, but for me, there was more to D's Wando than that. Out of the Bold Ruckus mare Silver Taler, D's Wando was born on May 8, 2007, just before noon. I had been keeping vigil outside Silver Taler's paddock all morning, and when the moment came, I was able to help bring D's Wando into the world. One of our first assessments of the minute bay with the tiny white star was how petite he was, unimpressive in the grande scheme of our 13 horse foal crop. But as we were soon reminded, size doesn't always matter. Shortly after his birth, I nicknamed D's Wando "George", in tribute to the curious monkey. He was always one of the first of the herd to approach his visitors, and when the whole mare and foal crop joined up in the field in the summer, he would stand by the gate and assess the situation as each mare and foal were turned out, trying to sneak out or jump into the arms of any human within range.

As George matured into a weanling, then a yearling, his personality grew, though his size barely did. But other than his smallish figure there was little to begrudge him for, and George pleased us by bringing $32,000 at the 2008 CTHS Canadian bred Yearling sale. What pleased me even more was that his new connections, D's Stable, Riviera Racing Stable and Yorktech Racing Stable, were stationed at Woodbine with trainer Ian Black. Translation: chances were good that I would be able to follow George's career in person.

As we had hoped, George has translated his personality into productivity on the track. Making his first start the day after my 21st birthday, George finished 3rd in a maiden event at Woodbine (and yes, I was there to see him). George improved his position in his next two starts, running second less than a month later, and, on August 16, 2009, broke his maiden to become the first winner for his freshman sire. After running unplaced in his next two starts, George won an allowance event before closing off the year with a third place effort in the Coronation Futurity behind 2-year-old champion Hollinger.

After taking a well-deserved winter's nap, George is now back at Woodbine with full aim on the July 4 Queen's Plate. Having made his first start the day after my birthday, how fitting would it be if he won the Queen's Plate on the day of my 22nd?

I will be keeping a close radar on George as he prepares for a run at Canada's greatest race. I was recently very pleased to find some publicity for my special horse. Canadian writer and blogger Keith McCalmont recently included George in a photo essay from the Woodbine backstretch:

In addition, the young son of one of George's owners has taken a special interest in the sport, and has included a video of George's recent work on his blog: Cheers Santino, keep up the enthusiasm!

I sincerely hope to be able to attend this year's Queen's Plate. With a number of promising colts from my former workplace, including George, targetting the race, and with Queen Elizabeth attending this year's event, it would certainly be a special birthday gift to make an appearance at the race, and, god willing, the winner's circle.

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