Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Horses of Lone Star Park

Lone Star Park was the first track I ever visited. New to the sport of horse racing when I first stood at the rail of the track, I relished the beauty of the Thoroughbreds before me. I’ve been around horses all my life, but these horses were different than the ones I was used to. These weren’t polished show horses, tough barrel racers, or loveable pets. These were fierce athletes whose energy was clearly visible as they pranced down the track in the post parade prior to dueling for victory down the lane at top speed.

At the time, I could only hope I would someday be able to touch my hand to the sleek coat of one of those fierce athletes, the fairytale-like beast that is the Thoroughbred racehorse. I hoped that someday the rail wouldn’t separate me from these enchanting animals. Now, I have stroked the coat of horses that have won races such as the Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Dubai World Cup. It’s safe to say that I’ve achieved the dream of touching a Thoroughbred racehorse.

Having attended three Breeders’ Cups and having visited some of the most renowned farms in Kentucky, I have seen some of the most elite Thoroughbred athletes the world has to offer. Being in their presence is incomparable, but it’s not only the champions that bring a smile to my face. Some of my favorite racehorses are claimers, horses that have never been heard of, and horses whose greatest success has come in races whose names are far from as well-known as the Kentucky Derby. And, in large part, I have Lone Star Park to thank for that.

Lone Star Park
Photo by Terri Cage
In the many trips I have made to Lone Star Park, I have had the ability to meet some special Thoroughbreds. Sure, these horses aren’t grade one-winning millionaires, but they are horses that love their job and give it their all each time they head to post. These are the horses that I am blessed to know.

Featured below are six horses I was blessed to meet at the 2013 Lone Star Park Thoroughbred meet. This blog is very similar to a post I wrote earlier this year, “A Collection of Horses.”

Controlled Chaos
: After visiting her at the barn the morning before her race on April 20, I stood along the rail as she went to post that afternoon. She ran a great race, fighting for the victory. From the angle at which I stood, it appeared as if she'd won, but, by the narrowest of margins, she'd been defeated. Nonetheless, she'd run a great race and it had been thrilling to watch a racehorse I had visited earlier in the day run so well.

Controlled Chaos (inside)
Photo by Mary Cage (iPhone photo)

Coyote Legend: Lone Star Park has the ability to attract top-class horses for its graded stakes events, but unlike tracks such as Churchill Downs and Belmont Park, it is not home to multiple grade one-winning Eclipse Award winners. But it is home to horses like Coyote Legend. I have spent years enjoying the racing endeavors of Coyote Legend, who has captured ten black-type races. The Southern-based veteran, who has been a personal favorite of mine since early on in his career, is a member of a famous Texas Thoroughbred family. The highest-earning offspring of his dam, Coyote Cafe, Coyote Legend is a full brother to Texas champion Gold Coyote and the black-type-placed Red Coyote. Thanks to Lilly Armstrong, a good friend of mine who I met while she worked for Remember Me Rescue, I was able to meet this racetrack hero of mine at the end of April. To be able to touch his soft coat as I reminisced on all the times I'd watched him race was a moment I’d thought would forever remain in my wildest dreams. I was as star struck by Coyote Legend, a horse I have grown up watching, as by the horses I've had the blessing of seeing at the Breeders' Cup. Two and a half months later, I stood along the rail as Coyote Legend gave it his all to capture his third Assault Stakes victory and smiled as I watched the hero I had finally met enter the winner’s circle.

Coyote Legend
Left photo by Terri Cage, right photos by Mary Cage (iPhone photos)

Coyote Queen: After hearing Lilly’s praise about this filly, I became rather excited about meeting the two-year-old. Standing in the stall next to her half-brother, none other than Coyote Legend, Coyote Queen impressed me immediately. Very tall for her age, the deep red filly was incredibly sweet and instantly jumped into my heart. Less than two months later, Coyote Queen began her racing career at Lone Star Park, gamely capturing her debut. Here’s to hoping she follows in her siblings’ footsteps!

Coyote Queen
Photo by Lilly Armstrong (iPhone photo)
Fiftyshadesofgold: Able to watch this talented filly make her debut at Lone Star Park after meeting her a month prior was a terrific experience. Winner of her first start by ten lengths, Fiftyshadesofgold impressed her connections – owner Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. and trainer Bret Calhoun, the same connections as Coyote Legend and Coyote Queen – enough to depart Lone Star Park for Churchill Downs’ Debutante Stakes, in which she defeated a tough field by 8 lengths. I am very excited about her future! Please read about her in greater detail in my article “Juvenile Spotlight: Fiftyshadesofgold.”

Photos by Terri Cage
Matto Mondo: In early 2009, Matto Mondo became one of my favorite racehorses, captivating me with his beauty and talent in graded stakes races in southern California, which included a win in the Thunder Road Handicap (GIII). Originally from Chile, the stunning dark bay/brown was a multiple group one winner in his home country. Now nine years old, Matto Mondo has landed in the barn of Dallas Keen and in early July, I watched as he achieved his third consecutive victory this year, easily winning a starter optional claiming on the turf at Lone Star. The best part? I was able to join him in the winner’s circle.

Matto Mondo
Photos by Mary Cage (iPhone photos)
Tamnation: Hanging his head over the stall guard of his stall in Bret Calhoun's barn at Lone Star Park, I was drawn to Tamnation by his handsome – and rather adorable – face. Lilly introduced me to the gelding, raving not only about how great he looked under tack on the racetrack, but about his personality. I soon realized she had reason to praise his disposition. The half-brother to the multiple black-type-winning Taptam – who was second to the great Zenyatta in the 2010 Apple Blossom Invitational Handicap (GI) – was incredibly sweet, willing to allow you to hold his head and cuddle.

Photo by Mary Cage (iPhone photo)
The glamorous grade one winners aren’t the only horses that deserves to be followed. Each racehorse deserves at least one loving fan, so find a special horse that others may not know about to follow. If you do, you’re in for a fun journey!

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