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Archive for December, 2015

Sending each of you who have supported THE VAULT over the years with commentary, donations, questions and insights my very warmest wishes this holiday season. To those who have sent donations for horse rescue: we have saved over 20 horses from going to slaughter in Canada or Mexico in 2015. And every one of your donations counted in this effort because no donation is too small. As well, my portrait of American Pharoah helped to raise funds for our very worthy cause. Hale, Trendy Cielo, Maya Littlebear, Felicitas Witness and 16 others, including two mares and their foals, thank you. And I thank you from the heart. Abigail Anderson, Montreal, Canada

https://www.gofundme.com/8d2cher4

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Ireland has her Galileo, but almost a decade before he came along, A.P. Indy was born. His courage on the track dazzled us. And his contribution to the development of the North American thoroughbred has been beyond brilliant.

This article is dedicated to one of A.P.’s greatest fans, Sue F., and to Louise H. and the wonderful folks at Lane’s End. And, of course, to The Great One himself.

 

1989: A baby A.P. Indy at Lane's End.

1989: A baby A.P. INDY at Lane’s End.

 

A.P. INDY tops Keeneland summer sale, August 4, 1990. Billed as a brother to the great SUMMER SQUALL, A.P. was purchased by

A.P. INDY tops Keeneland summer sale, August 4, 1990. Billed as a half-brother to the great SUMMER SQUALL, A.P. was purchased by Tomonori Tsurumaki for 2.9 million.

 

The bay colt was breeding royalty: the son of Triple Crown winner and prepotent sire, Seattle Slew, and Weekend Surprise, a daughter of Secretariat who had already produced the champion Summer Squall. Named A.P. Indy after his owner’s Formula One-style racetrack in Southern Japan, the ridgeling went to HOF trainer Neil Drysdale following his highly publicized purchase by BBA Ireland on behalf of Japanese businessman, Tomonori Tsurumaki, who was also a lover of the arts and had spent $51.3 million the year before on a painting by Picasso, Les Noces de Pierrette.

As we all know, perfect bloodlines aren’t always rewarded. But in the case of A.P. Indy, the genes — and a touch of fairy dust — all came together to bless a perfect thoroughbred.

And I followed his progress, as did thousands of horse racing fans, from cradle right up to today. During his racing career, with the exception of wins in the 1992 Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, both of which were televised in Canada, and in the absence of social media as we know it today, it was Blood-Horse magazine that kept me in the loop. And I’m amazed I didn’t rip at least one cover right off as I tore into each new issue, looking for news about my beloved “A.P.”

Santa Anita Derby (1992):

But the A.P. Indy Express was de-railed on its way to Kentucky. A blind quarter crack in his left front foot was announced the morning of the Derby. I, of course, didn’t know this until later in the day. There I was, all keyed up with snacks and Chardonnay, waiting to see “my boy” in real time right in front of me on my television set for the very first time.

I was devastated — and that’s all I remember about the 1992 Kentucky Derby (won by the gutsy Lil E Tee). That, and the thought that A.P.’s hoof issue was like another thoroughbred champion I adored: Northern Dancer.

Drysdale called in the farrier, who rebuilt the hoof wall, and a mere three weeks later, A.P. won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont in devastating fashion.

And then it was off to the Belmont Stakes, where the gritty colt put in a workmanlike performance that left me in a teary heap, because I knew what I was looking at. Seeing him “in the flesh” was the height of my year in 1992. But the heart that carried him home was a heart so deep, so strong, that it blazed across the television screen.

Picasso was a genius of a painter but he was also a tough, resolute personality. He was, after all, the man who painted Guernica at a time when he could have been assassinated for even saying the name of a town devastated by the Germans during the Spanish Civil War. And throughout WWII, Picasso let it be known how he felt about intimidation, retiring to his Paris studio to paint and cast sculptures in bronze, despite the fact that bronze casting had been outlawed by the Germans (who had taken over Paris). The great man had died in 1973.

Woman On Horse by PICASSO. Although he was deeply devoted to the bull, Picasso featured horses in many of his paintings throughout his career. One sculpture, "Little Horse" is in the collection of

Woman On Horse. Although he was deeply devoted to the bull as a subject, Picasso featured horses in many of his paintings throughout his career. One sculpture, “Little Horse” is in the collection of MoMA.

According to his accomplished trainer, A.P. was as strong-willed as Picasso: “…he had his own mind. But once he got the hang of things…he was exceptional.”

If Vaslav Nijinsky had, indeed, returned as a horse (the incomparable Nijinsky II), then as far as I was concerned, Picasso had returned to win the Belmont Stakes:

The Belmont victory was followed by a poor showing at Woodbine in the Molson Export Million and a disastrous run in the Jockey Gold Cup, where A.P. fell to his knees and ripped the shoe off his front foot coming out of the gate. As trainer Drysdale was to note after the race, “There wasn’t much foot left…”

So the colt you see finishing third here is also showing you what that heart inside him was really all about. (Analysis of A.P. Indy’s fall and the result comes after the race footage.) :

Again, a front hoof was rebuilt with acrylics and again, a mere three weeks later, A.P. made his start in the 1992 BC Classic. And again, that great heart and determined mind shone through:

Following this, his final start, the champion colt — beloved by a nation of sportsman and racing fans — was retired to stand at Lane’s End, where he was bred and born, after being crowned the 1992 Horse of the Year and Champion 3 year-old colt. One of the big questions was whether A.P. was fertile, since the undescended testicle that had plagued him as a 2 year-old had been surgically removed that same year. Happily, not only was he fertile but he went on to become one of the greatest American sires ever, while providing an important alternative to the dominance of Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector sire lines for breeders. A.P. hails from the Nasrullah sire line and since 1984, when Seattle Slew crowned the leading sire list, only A.P. Indy and his grandson, Tapit, have represented Nasrullah at the top of the heap. Significant because the Nasrullah sire once dominated American breeding. From 1955-1984, either Nasrullah or one of his male-line descendants led the sire lists a total of 18 times.

BOLD RULER, the sire of the incomparable SECRETARIAT, was the son of NASRULLAH. BOLD RULER is represented in A.P. INDY'S pedigree on both the top and the bottom.

BOLD RULER, the sire of the incomparable SECRETARIAT, was the son of NASRULLAH. BOLD RULER is represented in A.P. INDY’S pedigree on both the top and the bottom.

And top the heap A.P. Indy most certainly did, whether colts or fillies. Here are a few of the most prominent of his sons and daughters: Belmont Stakes winner, Rags To Riches, millionaires Mineshaft, Bernardini and Aptitude, and the outstanding Steven Got Even, Marchfield, Friends Lake, Got Lucky, Hotep, Symboli Indy, Golden Missile and Girolamo. BC winner Eldaafer, a gelding son, resides — with his goats — at Old Friends in Kentucky. Pulpit was arguably A.P.’s best son to date at stud and was, sadly, gone far, far too soon. However, Pulpit’s son,Tapit, is proving an absolute monster as a sire and has been the leading American-based sire by gross earnings for the last three years.

TAPIT, a grandson of A.P. INDY, has been the leading American-based sire for the last 3 years.

TAPIT, a grandson of A.P. INDY, has been the leading American-based sire for the last 3 years.

Most recently, the millionaire-earner Honor Code, who hails from A.P. Indy’s final crop, has been retired to stand at Lane’s End.

Here is Honor Code winning the 2015 Metropolitan Handicap. His style — reminiscent of the great Zenyatta — was to come from behind and he accomplished some astounding feats despite it. The way he ran is A.P. Indy all over again, in terms of the look of him on the track. This is a very, very nice colt and it will be so exciting to see how he does as a sire.

HONOR CODE shortly after arriving at Lane's End, posing in front of the statue of his sire, A.P. INDY.

HONOR CODE shortly after arriving at Lane’s End, posing in front of the statue of his sire, A.P. INDY.

 

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"PONY!" I exclaimed, trying to hold back my tears. "Here you are. I've loved you forever."

“PONY!” I exclaimed, trying to hold back my tears. “Here you are. I’ve loved you forever.” Copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

Here I was, about to meet one of my greatest loves of all time: A.P. Indy. And as I walked toward him, I had what my friend, photographer and artist, Liz Read, has since described as ” a complete meltdown.”

It was early summer and my very first visit to Kentucky. Liz and I were privileged to be welcomed at Lane’s End (LE) and given a private tour by the lovely and knowledgeable Louise Hatfield, the Executive Assistant to Farm Manager, Mike Cline. Louise is a soft-spoken horsewoman who rode thoroughbreds at Newmarket and she knows her LE thoroughbreds down to the last detail.

Lane’s End is a place staffed by people who truly love what they do. And that was evident from the expression of Louise, Stallion Manager Billy Sellers and groom attendant, Antonio Villalobo, as I tearfully approached A.P.

 

Louise, Antonio and "my boy" share in my delight of A.P. INDY. Copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

Louise and Antonio share in my delight at finding myself a few feet away from the great A.P. INDY. Copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

As I drew closer, A.P. watched me out of the corner of one eye. It was a kind, relaxed eye. Gleaming in the early summer light, he waited patiently for me to come closer while I struggled to comprehend what was actually happening. Of course, I was equipped with LE peppermints and Louise had assured me that “A.P. does love his mints.”

"A.P. does love his mints" Copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

“A.P. does love his mints” Copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

I was around horses as a youngster and had learned that you don’t just rush up to strange horses and pat their noses. Horses tolerate that, but they don’t like it. So, with Louise close by and Antonio at his head, I chatted with A.P. and then proffered the much-adored peppermints. I don’t know how long we stood there before I actually placed my hand on his proud head. A.P. is one of those individuals who talks to you in a horse’s way of talking — making eye contact for long moments, ears forward and head drawing ever closer. I could feel his warmth right down in my solar plexus. I knew when to pat, when to kiss, following the stallion’s lead.

First touches. Copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

First touches. Copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

 

THE KISS. The making of a lifetime memory. Photo protected by copyright. Used by permission of Liz Read.

THE KISS. The making of a memory that will live inside me forever. Photo protected by copyright. Used by permission of Liz Read.

As I kissed him, A.P. studied me with a kind and understanding eye, as though he somehow knew how much I loved him. His face, warmed by the sun, smelled like honey.

Horses learn what they are taught and the people of LE treat all of their thoroughbreds with great kindness and respect and, if possible (because not every horse will encourage it) with affection. It was eminently clear that A.P.’s relationship with those who knew him best was deep and abiding. I saw it in the trust with which he greeted me, a total stranger.

As we chatted, I told A.P. all the reasons why I loved him and how I had followed his career from birth to track to breeding shed. I thanked him for his sons and daughters, and for his grand babies too. I told him he had the bravest heart (after his run on a battered hoof in the Jockey Gold Cup) and that I had loved his daddy, his dam and his grandaddy, Secretariat.

 

How do I love thee? Oh let me count the ways! Photo is copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

How do I love thee? Oh let me count the ways! Photo is copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

A.P. chomped thoughtfully on his peppermints, giving me the impression he was indeed taking it all in. A strikingly expressive individual, A.P. showed a full range of feeling as we quietly interacted. This is an “old soul” who bespeaks first meetings between horse and humankind, Arabian forefathers and an ancient wisdom.

A.P. surrounded by love. Photo is copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

A.P. surrounded by love. Photo is copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

Finally, it was time for A.P. to enjoy a romp in his paddock and off he went with Antonio, Liz Read and her camera in hot pursuit. I remained outside the barn with Louise. Together we watched him prance at the gate and, once released, he was off. Louise turned to Billy Sellers, “Just look at him. He looks like a colt.”

Turned loose in his paddock, A.P. was gone in a flash. Copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

Turned loose in his paddock, A.P. was gone in a flash. Copyright protected. Used by permission of Liz Read.

 

A coltish A.P. INDY turned out in his paddock. Copyrighted photo. Used by permission of Liz Read.

A coltish A.P. INDY. Photo protected by copyright. Used by permission of Liz Read

 

Copyrighted photo. Used by permission of Liz Read.

Photo protected by copyright. Used by permission of Liz Read.

 

This photo was such a hit with Lane's End that it appeared on FB and in the TDN. Photo protected by copyright. Used by permission of Liz Read.

This photo was such a hit with Lane’s End that it appeared on their FB page and in the TDN (below). Photo protected by copyright. Used by  permission of Liz Read.

 

AP by LIZ in TDN_unnamed

 

On that day, back in August 1990, I wonder if Tomonori Tsurumaki knew he was buying Picasso? Probably not. But in this great, great thoroughbred’s career there has been abundant evidence that if Picasso could indeed return to us, A.P. Indy would be a perfect embodiment.

Pablo Picasso. Watering Hole (1906)

Pablo Picasso. Watering Hole (1906)

Some who visit A.P. Indy note the swayed back of a pensioner, but I’ll never remember him that way. What will stay with me is “my boy’s” expressiveness, all wrapped up in a beautiful head, with wide dark eyes that flicker and soften when you speak to him. That, and the scent of honey on a warm day in early summer.

To Louise and the other folks we met that day, I express my eternal gratitude: you made the little girl inside the woman joyous. Coming head-to head with a horse I have loved forever was as overwhelming as it was precious.

And to my darling boy: I send you all my love. You already own my heart — and that’s forever.

 

A.P. Indy

 

 

NOTE: THE VAULT is a non-profit website. (Any advertising that appears on THE VAULT is placed there by WordPress and the profit, if any, goes to WordPress.) We make every effort to honour copyright for the photographs used in our articles. It is not our policy to use the property of any photographer without his/her permission, although the task of sourcing photographs is hugely compromised by the social media, where many photographs prove impossible to trace. Please do not hesitate to contact THE VAULT regarding any copyright concerns. Thank you.

 

 

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