My Connection to Nyquist, the 2016 Derby Winner

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When I was a girl, I had a favorite horse. I learned to ride at a young age, followed horse racing when I was a teenager and ever since, and had a subscription to The Blood Horse younger than anyone had a right to. My favorite horse was a thoroughbred named Crimson Satan. Why? My Dad, who fulfilled every wish I had that he could, took me to visit the farm where he lived, the former Crimson King Farm and I fell in love…..with the horse. We went back over and over again up until Crimson Satan turned three and to my delight, he was entered in the Kentucky Derby.

I followed every race he ran and everything he did as he prepped for the Derby. In 1961, at two years old, he was the two year old champion male horse of the year. That award no longer exists. In 1962, he ran in each of the Triple Crown races, running sixth in the Derby, seventh in Preakness, and third in the Belmont Stakes. At my age then, I thought he was the most wonderful horse that ever lived. He went on to become a very successful sire and produced a granddaughter that sold at the Keeneland sales for $7 million in 1985.

Why am I talking about my childhood horse friend, Crimson Satan, on Derby Day, 2016 when Nyquist just brilliantly won the Kentucky Derby? You see, I am a horse pedigree freak. I always research horse pedigrees. I researched all the Derby horses, including Nyquist and much to my surprise, I found out that Nyquist 4X great granddam, on his dam’s side was a horse named Crimson Saint whose sire was MY childhood horse friend, Crimson Satan, Nyquist’s 5X great grandsire. I thought nothing could have endeared Nyquist to my heart more than this astounding finding.

But, something did. Crimson Saint was bred to one of the greatest horses of them all to eventually produce Nyquist, our beloved Secretariat. I couldn’t believe the coincidence. My research led me a step further. The greatest horse of all, Man ‘O War, is way back in Nyquist’s and Crimson Satan’s pedigree on the sire side, perhaps 9 or 10 generations.

How could Nyquist possibly have lost? #Nyquist #kentuckyderby #horseracing

Kentucky Derby Week: American Pharoah

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It’s Kentucky Derby week! The Week of the Horse. Even though some say horse racing is on the wane, you would never know it this week. In fact, you would never know it in Kentucky at all. Kentucky is the thoroughbred horse capital of the world though others try, on occasion, to steal that claim to fame. They have never succeeded! Particularly not after the 2015 Kentucky Derby. America and, perhaps the world, fell in love with a plain brown colt named American Pharoah. Even his name was misspelled! But Pharoah didn’t let that or anything else stop him. He won the Kentucky Derby, and then the Triple Crown coupled with the Breeder’s Cup Classic. He was the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 when Affirmed won it and the first Grand Slam winner ever…….the Grand Slam being all four races.

What is so special about this brown colt, born and bred in Kentucky? Some horses are just special. Secretariat was special, like Seattle Slew and Man ‘O War were special. Pharoah has a gentle temperament. Thoroughbred horses are known for many things but a gentle temperament is not one of them. Instead, many are temperamental and nervous. Pharoah loves his adoring public and during his racing seasons, and now while he is standing at stud, his public goes to visit him in hordes.

Something else special about American Pharoah. For over 40 years, horse racing has been trying to find another Secretariat, that very special big red horse that won the Triple Crown and broke all speed records. Secretariat certainly posted a faster time in the Belmont Stakes than Pharoah, but unbelievably, Pharoah actually accelerated in the final quarter mile of the Belmont, won the race going away, and beat Secretariat’s quarter mile time by 0.68 of a second.

I personally know Pharoah loves his tribe because I am one of them and I have visited Pharoah at his home at Ashford Stud near Versailles, KY. He poses for the crowds, tall and proud. He is not a bit nervous but very calm. When you get close to him, he has a kind, quiet look in his eyes and he meets your gaze lovingly. He does not shy away. They say that now, even during his breeding season, he is still our calm, sweet Pharoah even while getting at least 80 mares in foal. I can’t wait for his first foal.

In some ways, American Pharoah revived horse racing. He retired to stud with a record of 9-1-0. Not only does he have a breeding career ahead of him, you can’t turn around in Kentucky without seeing someone wearing some piece of American Pharoah merchandise……a jacket, a cap, or something.

They say he loves to go out in his paddock in the mornings before his breeding and public visiting sessions and have a run and a good roll in the mud. Just once, I would like to climb over that paddock fence onto his back, go for that run with him, feel his powerful muscles, and see the world through those big brown eyes. #anericanpharoah #kentuckyderby #triplecrown