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Archive for December, 2012

NOTE: Computer woes have temporarily halted the publication of new articles. We hope to be up-and-running very soon! Thank you for your understanding. 

 

” I don’t think about her without believing she was one of those magical, lightning strike things.” (the late Tammy Samuel-Balaz, daughter of SamSon Farm founder, Ernest “Ernie” Samuel.)

“… I really don’t even know where to start. I suppose you would have to understand that I fell in love with Dance Smartly back when she was kicking butt against the boys in ’91 and I was a nine-year-old girl who took up riding because I wanted to be her jockey (never mind the fact that I was already bigger than most jockeys at that age). I’ve loved her pretty much all my life, and those years I got to spend with her were amazing. ” (RV, October 2012.)

RV, this one is for you.

It was only her second foal, but the folks at Sam-Son Farm in Ontario, Canada were right to expect big things from Classy N’ Smart. The mare, a daughter of Sam-Son’s No Class (Nodouble ex. Classy Quillo) and the sire, Smarten (Cyane ex. Smartaire), was already a Canadian Hall-of-Fame inductee, having chalked up 5 wins in 9 starts, including the prestigious Canadian Oaks, before she retired.

The year was 1988. And Classy N’ Smart’s filly foal, standing on shaky legs and lurching crab-like towards her dam’s milk, was equine royalty.

No_Class with foal

No Class was most certainly misnamed. She stands as one of the great Blue Hen mares of the last century, producing Sky Classic, Regal Classic, Grey Classic, Always A Classic and Classic Reign, as well as Classy N’ Smart. Shown here with Sky Classic (by Nijinsky II), No Class was one of Ernie Samuel’s foundation mares.

Smarten, pictured here winning the 1979 American Derby at Arlington was the sire of Classy N' Smart and the broodmare sire of Dance Smartly.

Smarten, pictured here winning the 1979 American Derby at Arlington was the sire of Classy N’ Smart and the broodmare sire of Dance Smartly.

Classy N' Smart (Smarten ex. No Class) was very good on the track but brilliant in the breeding shed.

Classy N’ Smart (Smarten ex. No Class) was very good on the track but brilliant in the breeding shed. She produced sire extraordinaire, Smart Strike , as well as champions Strike Smartly and Full of Wonder. But Dance Smartly remains her crowning achievement.

Special as she was, Classy N’ Smart only accounted for half of the newborn’s royal lineage. The other half came to her via Claiborne Farm’s brilliant Danzig. A son of Northern Dancer, Danzig’s racing career was short-circuited by injury. But as a stallion he was pure gold. His sons and daughters were infamous for their talent and, other than Dance Smartly, he gave the world a goodly number of international superstars. Among the most distinguished of his millionaire progeny were Chief’s Crown, Versailles Treaty, Agnes World, Lure, Hard Spun, Polish Navy, Dispute and Danzig Connection. Danzig also sired the much-loved Dayjur, as well as Brahms, Belong To Me and Anabaa, sire of Goldikova. But it was his pre-potent son, Danehill, who would become one of the most influential sires of the late twentieth century.

Below is rare footage of Danzig’s brief racing career. The tape’s a bit worn, but a treat to watch nevertheless.

Classy N’ Smart’s bay filly would join a roster of SamSon champions. The farm took its name from its founder, Ernest “Ernie” Samuel, whose history with thoroughbreds had begun initially with show jumpers. His proudest moment came in 1968, when Canadian Club won Canada’a very first equestrian Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. Canadian Club’s rider, the gifted Jim Day, would continue to ride Samuel-owned jumpers as part of Canada’s Olympic Team until 1976, when he retired. Shortly thereafter, Samuel hired him to be SamSon’s private racing trainer.

1968-equestrian-team-7800

Jim Day at the 1968 Mexico Olympics aboard the white-faced Canadian Club. A champion thoroughbred jumper, Canadian Club was retired to Sam-Son Farm in 1972, where he lived out his life surrounded by those who truly appreciated him.

Well before it became fashionable, Ernie Samuel focused his own breeding program on building an impressive broodmare band, believing that the mare played a key role in the breeding equation . His first purchase was No Class, together with another broodmare prospect, Loudrangle (Quadrangle ex. Lady Known As Lou {Nearctic}). Together, these two established the foundation of Sam-Son’s breeding program. Nor did Samuel stint on stallions, sending his broodmares to only the very best, among them Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer and Danzig.

Classy N’ Smart’s filly was named Dance Smartly, a nod to her grandsire and her broodmare sire, although her distinctive white facial mark quickly earned her the nickname “Daisy” around the farm. Associated with spring and renewal, it was fitting that the leggy filly be re-named after the promise of the daisy.

Other than an outstanding pedigree, Dance Smartly didn’t particularly distinguish herself to trainer Day until she was nearing her first start. Then, as he recalls, jockey Brian Swatuk returned from working the youngster to declare, “This might be the best horse I’ve ever sat on in my entire life.”

Day took note.

A month later, on July 7, 1990, Dance Smartly won her maiden at Woodbine by 3 1/2 lengths. Following a win on the grass in the Natalma Stakes, Dance Smartly and Wilderness Song, another exceptional Sam-Son filly, were sent to Belmont to run in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Racing in blinkers in her first year, Dance Smartly showed great potential and she was honest -- the filly gave her best each and every time.

Racing in blinkers in her first year, Dance Smartly showed that she had royal blood. She never gave up, even when the odds were stacked against her.

But disaster struck when Dance Smartly (outfitted in blinkers) and Wilderness Song were allowed to get into a speed dual that gutted both of them.  Day’s instructions were to allow Wilderness Song to get to the front first, with Dance Smartly rating just off the pace until the final stretch run. Coming down to the wire, her head tilted towards the grandstand, Dance Smartly marshalled every ounce of strength she had left.

Watching from the owners’ box as their filly battled on, the Samuels and Jim Day knew what they were seeing: the birth of a champion.

The BC effort was more than enough to earn Dance Smartly the Canadian Sovereign Award that year for Champion 2 year-old filly.

In 1991, as a three-year old, SamSon’s royally-bred filly started 8 times, on 2 different surfaces and in two different countries and emerged victorious every time.

Within a period of eight months, Dance Smartly won the Canadian Oaks, the Canadian Triple Crown (as in the USA, open to both sexes), the Molson Millions and the Breeders Cup Distaff (now the BC Ladies Classic). In so doing, she would vanquish fillies and colts alike, including her solid stablemate, Wilderness Song. Others who fell victim included the American and Canadian champion colts, Fly So Free and Rainbows For Life, Versailles Treaty and Queena, winner of the Maskette, Spinster and Ruffian Stakes (and the future dam of Brahms), as well as Brought To Mind and General Meeting, a son of the great Seattle Slew who would prove to be one of California’s top sires.

Wilderness Song was a brilliant filly who had the misfortune of being born in the same year as her stable companion, Dance Smartly. Nevertheless, she retired a millionaire and was inducted into the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame in 2008.

Wilderness Song was a brilliant filly who had the misfortune of being born in the same year as her stable companion, Dance Smartly. Nevertheless, she retired a millionaire and was inducted into the Canadian Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame in 2008.

SamSon's champion colt, Rainbows For Life, shown here as a stallion. "Rainbows" was champion 2 year-old of 1990, and champion older male as well as grass horse in 1992. Sold to the Czech Republic, he was a champion sire in 1999, 2004-2006. Wilderness Song died this year (2012).

SamSon’s champion colt, Rainbows For Life, shown here as a stallion. “Rainbows” was champion 2 year-old of 1990, and champion older male as well as grass horse in 1992. Sold to the Czech Republic, he was a champion sire in 1999, 2004-2006. He died this year (2012).

By the end of the year, Dance Smartly had become a legend in her own time: the first (and only) filly to ever win the Canadian Triple Crown, the first Canadian-bred to ever win a Breeders Cup race, recipient of both the Sovereign and Eclipse Awards for Champion 3 year-old filly in 1991, as well as a second Sovereign Award for 1991 Horse of the Year and the all-time leading money-winner (filly or mare) worldwide. Largely because of her performance, supplemented by those of Wilderness Song and Rainbows For Life, Sam-Son Farm took home both an Eclipse and Sovereign Award for Outstanding Owner (1991).

The familiar gold and red of Sam-Son was to become a hallmark of the 1991 racing season. The now unblinkered Dance Smartly, Pat Day in the irons, was easily the racing partnership of the year.

The familiar yellow and red of Sam-Son Farm was to become a hallmark of the 1991 North American racing season. The now unblinkered Dance Smartly with Pat Day in the irons were the racing partnership of 1991.

Daisy’s win in the Canadian Oaks marked the arrival of Pat Day. The American jockey, famous for piloting champions like Easy Goer, Summer Squall, Unbridled,  Lady’s Secret and Sam-Son’s Sky Classic, handled Dance Smartly with patience and poise. Horse and jockey seemed to communicate seamlessly.

The “Day boys” (although not related) got along famously. And the connection that Pat Day established between himself and Dance Smartly was fundamental, since, unlike some horses, Daisy wasn’t particularly interactive with her human handlers. Those who knew her best insisted that, right from the beginning, the filly “knew who she was,” pointing out that special horses are frequently aloof. They seem to come from somewhere between the horizon and the heavens, where they frequently fix their gaze in what has been dubbed “the look of eagles.” They listen to the music of the spheres.

Dance Smartly had "the look of eagles," just like Man O' War and Hyperion who occur in her pedigree. Photo and copyright The Blood-Horse.

Dance Smartly strikes”the look of eagles”pose, just like two of her most illustrious ancestors, Man O’ War and Hyperion. Photo and copyright The Blood-Horse.

The big filly with the resplendent, dappled coat was easy to handle and gentle by nature. Only on the track did she transform from SamSon’s sweetheart into a fire-breathing, equine monster. Despite her habit of leaping out of the gate as though she was a sprinter, Day could do anything with her. The filly relaxed beautifully, allowing her to channel that strength and determination into a burst of lightening speed when asked. Pat Day could feel her readiness through the reins, ears pricked, waiting for him to push the button. And when he did, the champion eased away from the rest of the field in long, fluid strides.

Looks can be deceiving. Daisy seemed to do it all so easily that only the fractions told the real story. That, and the devastation she left in her wake: Dance Smartly’s  Triple Crown triumph comprised a combined winning margin of 18 lengths.

Before being entered in the first leg of the Triple, the Queen’s Plate, Dance Smartly had never taken on the boys before. She was joined by SamSon’s Wilderness Song and Rainbows For Life. Watch as the SamSon fillies come home first and second:

Unlike its American counterpart, the Canadian Triple Crown was run over two different surfaces — dirt and grass — until 2006, when Woodbine’s main dirt track was converted to polytrack. The Canadian Triple is comprised of three races: the 1 1/4 mile Queen’s Plate (dirt), the 1 3/16 Prince of Wales Stakes (on the dirt at Fort Erie) and, finally, on the grass at Woodbine for the 1 1/2 mile Breeders’ Stakes.  Inaugurated in 1959, there have been 7 horses to win the Canadian Triple to date, among them New Providence (1959), Canebora (1963), With Approval (1989) and the ill-fated Izvestia (1990).

The flow of Dance Smartly and Pat Day coming to the wire was a combination of fire (hers) and ice (his).

The flow of Dance Smartly and Pat Day coming to the wire was a combination of fire (hers) and ice (his).

Here she is on tape, accompanied by delighted Canadian voices, winning the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, The Prince of Wales Stakes:

The last leg, the Breeders’ Stakes, is run in August on the grass track at Woodbine. The day dawned warm and slightly humid. The turf was labelled good.

Next up was the Molson Millions. a short few weeks after her Triple Crown sweep. Despite the fact that it came only a few short weeks after her Triple Crown campaign, Dance Smartly’s win was breathtaking.  (The race is highlighted at the very beginning of the article, above).

Wearing the Molson's Millions victory wreath, Dance Smartly and Pat Day are led into the winner's circle at Woodbine.

Wearing the Molson’s Millions victory wreath, Dance Smartly and Pat Day are led into the winner’s circle at Woodbine by a proud Ernie Samuel.

The Breeders’ Cup Distaff was now a little over six weeks away. Shortly after their arrival in Kentucky, Daisy’s exercise rider returned from a work to say that something didn’t feel right: the filly was favouring a front foot. It would take almost three weeks to treat it, during which time Wilderness Song, under Pat Day, gave Sam-Son its first international victory when she took the Spinster.

Dance Smartly was being hand-walked until shortly before the Distaff, when she was given one strong workout. And although her connections were delighted with it, they also knew that one work offered little guarantee that their champion was back to her best form. By all accounts, Daisy was a filly recovering from an injury and nearing the end of a long, tiring campaign when she walked into the Breeders’ Cup starting gate at Churchill Downs:

She was, indeed, the undisputed Queen of North American racing. The late Tammy Samuel-Balaz was to say that the experience of accompanying Dance Smartly throughout her 1991 campaign was “A magical time.” One can only imagine what the exploits of his homebred champion meant to Ernie Samuel. Other SamSon champions would follow: Sky Classic, Chief Bearhart, Smart Strike, Ruling Angel, Quiet Resolve and  Soaring Free. Between 1984-2004, SamSon Farm would see eight of their horses crowned Canadian Horse of the Year.

But one thing was certain on that autumn day in 1991: Dance Smartly had stolen hearts as no other before her, taking her family and fans on a journey to the pinnacle of thoroughbred racing. It was hard to take it all in as it was happening, in the same way that history eludes those living it. But there were images: Dance Smartly turning her head towards the grandstand as she devoured the home stretch, as if to say, “Okay people –watch this!” ….the red and gold silks, stealing up on the outside of the competition …..the characteristic bowing of her head as she was led into the winner’s circle….the wide, intelligent forehead and the warmth in her deep, dark eyes.

Would she? Could she? Following her Triple Crown sweep, Dance Smartly's connections were aiming for the 1991 Breeders Cup. But intervening was the temptation of the Molson Millions at Woodbine....

Canada’s Queen of Hearts.

Dance Smartly returned at four, running exclusively on the grass and winning the Canadian Maturity in mixed company. However, unknown to her racing public, Daisy had been fighting a pulled suspensory ligament injury to her right foreleg. Following a third place finish in the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington, Ernie Samuel announced her retirement.

She had done enough. In 17 starts, Dance Smartly was never worse than third, retiring with 12 wins, 2 places, 3 shows and earnings of $3,263, 835.00.

Coming home to win the 1991 BC Distaff.

Coming home to one of the world’s most famous finish lines at Churchill Downs in the 1991 BC Distaff.

Racing accolades would follow: in 1995, Dance Smartly was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame; in 2003, she was inducted into the American National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, joining a pantheon of North American champions.

In retirement: Dance Smartly and her BFF, Rainbows Classic, at SamSon Farm.

In retirement: Dance Smartly (right) and another broodmare (chestnut) at SamSon Farm.

Incredibly, as a broodmare Dance Smartly was as successful as she’d been on the track. Although Ernie Samuel died of cancer in 2000, only a short time before one of Dance Smartly’s foals took the Queen’s Plate, Daisy did him proud throughout her life.

Daisy with one of her last foals, the filly Dance To The Sea.

Daisy with her last foal — a baby she just adored — the filly, Dance To The Sea. Nicknamed “Diva” the filly was most like her dam in personality of all of Daisy’s foals. The two continued to exchange fond greetings well after Diva had been weaned.

Diva peeks out at the camera from behind her dam. Sired by Gone West, Diva has produced two foals of her own to date. Her latest is Tizgone, by Tiznow, born in 2010.

Diva (by Gone West) peeks out at the camera. To date, Diva has produced two foals of her own. The filly Tizgone (Tiznow) was born in 2010.

Of Dance Smartly’s first 5 foals, two — Scatter The Gold and Dancethruthedawn — won back-to-back Queen’s Plates in 2000 and 2001, respectively. Millionaire Dancethruthedawn’s three year-old campaign culminated with a Sovereign Award for Champion 3 year-old filly (2001). Another Sovereign was awarded to Dance Smartly for Broodmare of the Year — the third generation of Samson broodmares to win it.

Dance Brightly (Mr. Prospector) was Dance Smartly's first foal. He stands at stud in Chile.

Dance Brightly (Mr. Prospector) was Dance Smartly’s first foal. He stands at stud in Chile and has produced winners. Photo and copyright, A. C. Crosby

Scatter The Gold at the Arrow Stud Open House in Japan 2 years ago. He has since been sold to a stud farm in Russia.

Scatter The Gold (Mr. Prospector) at the Arrow Stud Open House in Japan 2 years ago. He has since been sold to a stud farm in Russia.

Dancethruthedawn is a broodmare at SamSon Farm in Ontario. Personal photo.

Millionaire champion Dancethruthedawn (Mr. Prospector) is now a member of the SamSon broodmare band.

Another daughter, Dancethruthestorm (Thunder Gulch) had her first foal, a Giant's Causeway filly in 2008.

Another daughter, Dancethruthestorm (Thunder Gulch) had her first foal, a Giant’s Causeway filly, in 2008. Named Grand Style(4), she broke her maiden at first asking and was retired. In 2012, she produced a colt, Twirlinggrandstyle (Twirling Candy).

Although her best offspring in terms of earnings was Dancethruthedawn (1998), Daisy’s sons Dance Brightly (1995), Dance To Destiny (1999) and Dance With Ravens (2002) have all proven to be very consistent sires. Another two, Dancethruthestorm and Dance To The Sea never raced and are members of SamSon’s broodmare band.

The gorgeous Dance With Ravens, who stands at Northview Stallion Station.

The gorgeous Dance With Ravens (A.P. Indy), who stands at Northview Stallion Station. UPDATE: In December 2015 Dance With Ravens was sold to “Saudi Arabian interests”He will stand his first year at stud there in 2016. (Paulick Report, DRF) Photo and copyright, Alison Janevic.

Dance To Destiny (Mr. Prospector) never finished out of the money and proved a very decent sire. He stood at SamSon, but was sold to Saudi Arabia in 2011.

Dance To Destiny (Mr. Prospector) never finished out of the money and proved a very decent sire. He stood at SamSon, but was sold to Saudi Arabia in 2011.

In her new life as a mare on the farm where she was raised, Daisy loved to play games — providing her human playmate had treats. Favourites were “find the mint” and follow-the-leader. She was attentive, patient and kind with her foals. The old stifle injury continued to bother her and became degenerative as she grew older, giving her a “gimpy” walk and forcing her to put more pressure on her one good foreleg. SamSon placed her with another handicapped mare, Rainbow Classic, who became Daisy’s BFF.

Dance Smartly always kept her shape, no matter how many foals she had. Here she is in Kentucky, having visited Thunder Gulch. Photo and copyright, The Blood-Horse.

Dance Smartly always kept her shape –and her dapples — no matter how many foals she had. Here she is in Kentucky in 2003, dancing in her paddock. Photo and copyright, The Blood-Horse.

The staff at SamSon loved Dance Smartly. Regal and aloof though she could be, Daisy had a special human friend with whom she was affectionate. RV had loved Daisy since she was a girl and now, with the mare’s velvety muzzle in her lap, a long-cherished dream had come true.

In her paddock at SamSon.

In her paddock at SamSon, Daisy sports her winter coat.

Beloved.

“She had a lot of class…She had a lot of presence. There wasn’t a mean bone in her body…Everybody loved her.” (Dave Whitford, quoted in THE GLOBE AND MAIL, August 22, 2007)

On August 18 or 19, 2007, Daisy was found laying down in her paddock. She could not get up. The SamSon personnel gathered around her, encouraging her to try. It took extraordinary effort. But once standing, it was clear why the mare had spent so long on the ground: she had broken at least one bone in her already handicapped foreleg. In the end there was only one humane avenue open. Dance Smartly was only 19 years old.

Under the Globe & Mail’s headline, “Beloved Dance Smartly Put To Rest,” farm manager Dave Whitford told readers, “We do have a nice grave for her right out in front of the office, a very special place for her…..We’ll be trying to make that area as nice as possible in the coming months.”

Between the lines of final tributes, in the spaces between paragraphs and in what those who were interviewed left unsaid, the void was  articulated. Canadian racing had lost its Queen. SamSon, its beloved Daisy.

Memory, like love, makes its home on the threshold of eternity. For those of us who loved her, that is where Dance Smartly lives.

 

Saying goodbye to our Queen was painful, but her spirit lives on through her daughters and sons.

 

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SEASON’S GREETINGS!

The famous photographer, C.C. Cook aka "Cookie" sent Christmas cards using one of his photos to clients and friends.

The renowned C.C. Cook aka “Cookie'” sent this Christmas card of Citation and Eddie Arcaro in 1948.

THE VAULT wishes its many readers all the very best of the holiday season. It has been a year of wonderful happenings: connecting with Australia’s primary equine photographer, Bronwen Healy (“When The Image Speaks,” “Just Call Me Nelly” & “From Down Under With Love”) and author, Dorothy Ours (“Battleship: The Pony Who Conquered Aintree”); reading all of your wonder-full comments and personal stories; meeting Mrs. Judith Mappin, daughter of E.P. Taylor, to exchange stories about Northern Dancer and some of his progeny; and being selected by The Paulick Report for “Best Blog” for our article on the fabulous Frankel and his connections (“It Takes A Team”). 

I want to thank each one of our readers for their continued support. It means the world to me because you are my inspiration. 

The great American educator, Maxine Greene, said: “We are born human beings, but we need to learn how to be human.” Love is a huge part of that process, breaking down individual isolation to open a world of possibilities. 

One common experience that VAULT readers share is their love of horses. Loving a Frankel, or a Rachel, or a Zenyatta, a Black Caviar, an Igugu or a Man O’ War is a passionate affair. We humans give our hearts away.  Or else, find that they’ve been stolen by a magnificent beast that manages to reach out to us across space and time to say, “Go ahead — love me.” And when we answer, we find that we are delighted, moved, inspired……and, somehow, more fully human. 

So please join me in a photo essay that celebrates the power of love and the magic of the inter-species affair.

Northern Dancer was many things to many people, but one thing he wasn't was bell-behaved. Remarkably, he formed a deep attachment to Winifred Taylor, wife of the Dancer's owner-breeder, E.P. Taylor. He terrorized just about everyone, but when the Dancer heard Mrs. Taylor's footsteps he whinnied a "Hello" and became a gentle, docile pony.

Northern Dancer was many things to many people, but one thing he wasn’t was well-behaved. Remarkably, he formed a deep attachment to Winifred Taylor, wife of the Dancer’s owner-breeder, E.P. Taylor. The little guy terrorized just about everyone, but when the Dancer heard Mrs. Taylor’s footsteps he whinnied a “Hello” and transformed into a gentle, sweet pony.

Ferdinand with jockey, Bill Shoemaker. The two enjoyed a close and warm relationship.

Ferdinand with jockey, Bill Shoemaker. The Shoe loved the handsome, gentle colt and Ferdinand returned the feeling.

The champion, Determine,  who sired Kentucky Derby winner, Decidedly, with his friend, the collie

Determine, the first grey to win the Kentucky Derby, went on to sire another grey Kentucky Derby winner, Decidedly. He is shown here as a 3 year-old, giving some love to his stables’ mascot, Roxey.

British jockey, Lester Piggott, an icon in his own country fulfilled a life's ambition when he got to meet the mighty Kelso.

A legend greets two more: British jockey, Lester Piggott, already an icon in his own country, fulfilled a life’s ambition when he got to meet the mighty Kelso. Giving the champ some sugar is Leslie Combs, one of America’s top thoroughbred breeders.

The legendary trainer, King T. Leatherbuy, gets a smooch from one of his horses.

The legendary trainer, King T. Leatherbuy, gets a smooch from one of his horses. The King’s been in the business for a long time, but the passion that drives him has never diminished.

Kentucky Derby winner, Gallahadion, and his best buddy.

Kentucky Derby winner, Gallahadion, and his best buddy. Although it has only been recently that the men and women who care for the thoroughbred have been acknowledged, they nevertheless leave us a legacy of unconditional love.

Hickstead and Eric Lamaze were, together with Big Ben and Ian Millar, Canada's most distinguished equestrian partnerships.

Hickstead and Eric Lamaze were (together with Big Ben and Ian Millar) Canada’s most distinguished equestrian partnership. Eric had battled personal issues; Hickstead was a colt who no-one seemed able to ride. But when they found one other, two lives were changed forever.

The incomparable Count Fleet, shown here in a tender moment with his lad.

The incomparable Count Fleet, shown here in a tender moment with his regular exercise rider, Frank Kiniry. The Count had just won the Kentucky Derby, but seemed to wax nostalgic as he prepared to leave for Pimlico and the second leg of America’s Triple Crown.

The magnificent Red Rum and the man he loved best, trainer Ginger McCain.

The extraordinary Red Rum (who won the Grand National an unprecedented 3 times) and the man he loved best, trainer Ginger McCain. Until his death in 2011, Ginger left flowers on Red Rum’s grave every year. Man and horse shared such a strong bond that it was virtually impossible to think of one without the other.

Flash the German Shepherd was Valdina rebel's regular hot-walker.

Flash, the German Shepherd, was Valdina Rebel’s regular hotwalker. The dog arrived at his friend’s stall each morning with halter and lead in his mouth, then waited for Rebel to be tacked up for their morning walk.

California legend Silky Sullivan gives a young fan a buss.

California legend Silky Sullivan meets a young fan and rewards him with a kiss. Silky was a thoroughbred legend — a quirky character who won the affection of thousands of fans.

Trainer extraordinaire Woody Stephens poses with one of his champions, Creme Fraiche.

Trainer extraordinaire Woody Stephens poses with one of his champions, Creme Fraiche. Note the melting expression in the colt’s eyes as he leans toward Woody.

Reckless, the pride of the Marines during the Korean War, was a Korean thoroughbred. Fearless and loyal, little Reckless was beloved by her troop -- who shipped her back to the USA, according her the title of Private Reckless.

Reckless, the pride of the Marines during the Korean War, was a Korean thoroughbred. Fearless and loyal, little Reckless was beloved by her troop — who shipped her back to the USA when peace was declared, according her the title of Sgt. Reckless.

Although they were overshadowed by the great Frankel, jockey William Buick never conceded that Nathaniel was anything but a superstar. Nathaniel remains the only horse to have gotten near enough to Frankel to make a real race of it.

Although they were overshadowed by the great Frankel, jockey William Buick never conceded that Nathaniel was anything but a champion. Nathaniel remains the only horse to have gotten near enough to Frankel to make a real race out of it. Buick adored his handsome colt and will miss him in 2013. (Nathaniel was retired in 2012. The son of Galileo stands at Newsells Park Stud in Hertfordshire.)

Stymie was The People's Horse from the very start of his long career. The gorgeous chestnut brought in fans by the thousands when he raced.

Stymie was The People’s Horse from the very beginning. The gorgeous chestnut brought in fans by the thousands wherever he appeared. Pictured here with one of his biggest fans, trainer Hirsch Jacobs.

Greyhound stands under mistletoe held by Vernor ("Dooley") Putnam and his wife, Leona. The greatest trotter of all time turns 33 on New Year's day.

Greyhound stands under mistletoe held by Vernor (“Dooley”) Putnam and his wife, Leona. The greatest trotter of all time turns 33 on New Year’s day.

Dr. Fager and trainer, John Nerud. Said Nerud of "the Doc," I never gave a damn who rode him. He was such an amazing horse..."

Dr. Fager and trainer, John Nerud. Said Nerud of the Doc, ” I never gave a damn who rode him. He was such an amazing horse…”

Calvin Borel with Rachel Alexandra at Stonestreet in the summer of 2012. The photo says it all.....

Calvin Borel with Rachel Alexandra at Stonestreet in the summer of 2012. The photo says it all.

Ann Moss with her Zenny, Mother's Day 2011. When asked where she would like to retire Zenyatta, Ann replied, " I'd like her to stay in my backyard." Now at Lane's End, Ann and Jerry Moss visit Zenny and her firstborn regularly.

Ann Moss with her Zenny, Mother’s Day 2011. When asked where she would like to retire Zenyatta, Ann replied, ” I’d like her to stay in my backyard.” Now at Lane’s End, Ann and Jerry Moss visit Zenny regularly and were in attendance when she gave birth to a colt by Bernardini in March 2012.

Australia's Bronwen Healy and the pony she adores, Nelly aka Black Caviar.

Australia’s Bronwen Healy and the pony she adores, Nelly, aka Black Caviar. Bronwen’s first great love, the fabulous mare, Sunline, succumbed to laminitis on May 1, 2009. Nelly helped Bronwen to deal with the loss and has since become Healy’s “best girl.”

Frankel and his very best friend, Sandeep (Sandy) Gauvaram.

Frankel and his very best friend, Sandeep (Sandy) Gauravaram. The life of a race horse is very controlled, repetitive and for many, boring. Frankel was having none of that. He insisted on being housed where the action was at trainer Cecil’s stables. And he loved his time with Sandy.

Havre de Grace and Plum Pretty, December 2012. As the HOTY and her gorgeous companion prepare for a new career, it would seem that they're becoming BFF's!!!

Havre de Grace and Plum Pretty, December 2012. As the HOTY and her gorgeous companion prepare for a new career, it appears that they’re already forming a friendship. Broodmare friendships are powerful and, if it works out given breeding cycles and so forth, enduring.

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