Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Guest Blog Contest: Fourth Place | Meeting Louis Quatorze, by Sherri Lytle

Photo courtesy of Sherri Lytle


Meeting Louis Quatorze
By Sherri Lytle

My daughters and I went to visit a champion horse last year that I watched race when I was a young adult about eighteen years ago. I had not payed that much attention to him early on, as he certainly didn’t stand out in the first leg of the Triple Crown races, but he surely caught my attention in the second leg of the Triple Crown and made me a fan of his for life!

He isn’t based in Kentucky anymore or at one of those prestigious farms located in horse country. Instead, he is tucked away on a picturesque 133-acre farm located in the quiet countryside of Darlington, Maryland. No, he doesn’t have people lined up to see him, nor does this farm, Murmur Farm, get the attention and the visitors that those famous farms do. However, he is still famous and is still a champ in my book and to the fine folks associated with Murmur Farm. (Sadly, this past Summer, the owner of Murmur Farm, Mr. E. Allen Murray Jr. passed away, but his wife and family still continue to run the family farm that he was so passionate about and worked so hard for all these years to build.)

This horse was trained by Nick Zito, ridden by jockey Pat Day, and sired by Sovereign Dancer, who was a son of the 1964 Derby and Preakness winner Northern Dancer. As a two-year-old, he broke his maiden in his second start and placed in two other races that year. As a three-year-old, he finished fourth in the Florida Derby, but came in second in the Blue Grass Stakes and that punched his ticket to the 1996 Kentucky Derby! The Derby turned out to not be his day; a bad start and a terrible trip sent him across the finish line sixteenth out of nineteen horses.

But Zito didn’t give up on him and sent him to the Preakness hoping for better results there with a little bit of luck. Of course, he was not sent off as the favorite for the Preakness, but everything went as planned for him that day and he broke well, got the lead, and went on to win the Preakness in wire-to-wire fashion. That he was able to accomplish this was impressive enough, but that day he also set such fast fractions all the way through the race that he ended up equaling the race record set by Tank’s Prospect back in 1985!

Later that year, he won the Jim Dandy Stakes, came in second in the Travers Stakes, and ran third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. That November, he placed second to Alphabet Soup by a nose in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, defeating Cigar, who came in third. It should be noted, however, that it took a track record for Alphabet Soup to hold off Louis Quatorze that day. He ended his career with two wins, one in the Crème Fraiche and the last in the Ben Ali Stakes in 1997.

Now to me, that is a pretty good race record overall! He is still standing stud these days at twenty-one years of age. He is a sweet, gentle old boy, and still loves attention showered upon him. He is a beautiful bay with a white blaze and funny enough, he wasn’t even wearing his correct halter that Sunday when we went to visit him! But it was a Sunday and things don’t always go as planned on Sundays I was told. But he does live on a beautiful farm with very nice people who love him and take very good care of him. He has produced some stakes winners over the years and also is in the pedigree of Dance to Bristol, who made it all the way to the Breeder’s Cup this past fall before being retired. His name is Louis Quatorze and I will never, ever forget his shining Preakness moment, one of my favorites of all-time and forever a treasured memory of mine. Also, to get to meet Louis Quatorze all these years later was a dream come true for me. I am glad his life has turned out so well for him and that he seems happy and healthy.


Here are some of the pictures from that day:


Photo courtesy of Sherri Lytle
Sherri's daughter, Anissa, outside Louis Quatorze's stall
Photo courtesy of Sherri Lytle
The nameplate on Louis Quatorze's stall
Photo courtesy of Sherri Lytle
Louis Quatorze
Photo courtesy of Sherri Lytle

Louis Quatorze
Photo courtesy of Sherri Lytle
Louis Quatorze
Photo courtesy of Sherri Lytle

2 comments:

  1. Thank you ! Louis has always been one of my favorites and I hope I can get to Murmur Farm someday soon to visit him.

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  2. I always loved Louis. He was a game horse and gave every race all his heart.It's good to see him and know that he is loved and well cared for. It's nice that he is at a smaller farm and that he gets attention. Glad he is king of the barn!

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