Aly Again

When he stepped off that trailer, the sky filled with electricity and I was shocked. I had read all the stories, watched all the videos of him and some of his progeny, and heard the numerous stories of this warrior, but nothing really prepared me for the real deal.

Alysheba strutted down the path, walked into the ring and had "it" still, as some coworkers discussed. He was looking really good and was just beautiful. Marta is quite possibly Alysheba's number one fan and taught me about his legacy.

The crowd was huge—standing room only and not even much room for standing. Seemingly ten cameras per square foot were shuttering and there was a sense of great gratitude for the King for sending home a hero. So I thank him and am very grateful for that.

I missed out on the cake, but was able to sign the thank you book for the King. Only I did not realize at the time that the book was for the King. So I merrily wrote a message to Alysheba, thinking this was a book to him, and said "I hope you and Cigar can talk about your issues, especially the fact he surpassed your earnings." And I might have muddled something about stealing the attention away from Cigar. I mean Cigar was pouting and they had his door closed.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Now since I am talking about attention grabbers, there is another fine athelete that took my breath away and whom I had not met before.

Three Chimneys had their open house for Big Brown with a Big Brown Bag Lunch. So I was able to meet Big Brown up close and not so personal, say hi to Smarty Jones (who has filled out and looks great!), and meet Lewis Michael. While they all are in the main barn chilln', the second barn held some oldies but goodies.

Dynaformer and Wild Again are in the second barn with Exchange Rate, a relative youngster. As we entered the barn some lady had her arm in Exchange Rate's stall, through the bars, and yeah she almost lost it. Exchange Rate lured her in with the cute gum twitch and then went for the kill, well not kill, but you get the point.

Dynaformer was out being shown to a small crowd of eight or so. I happened to see a nod out of the corner of my eye, and to my right Wild Again, who is pensioned, was signaling us to come over and visit. So we did. We couldn't let all the attention go to the active stallions. He was thrilled, and so he kept nodding and begging for us to rub the outside of his lip. Really he wanted some mints from Marta and smelled our lunches, but he soon got over that and was pleased with the attention.

Once Dynaformer was done being shown, we asked the handler if we can see Wild Again. The handler was such a cool guy and had some much knowledge to share. He was actually really excited we asked to see Wild Again because apparently not many people ask to see him.

The handler gave us the scoop on daily habbits of the horse, and we asked him a lot of questions. Apparently the common routine for Wild Again is when he is let go into the field, he runs his heart out and plays and just rocks the place. Then afterward he realizes he is a little stiff and is a bit slower returning to his stall. The old man is sore and stiff for about three days, BUT then he goes and does it again!

I hope I still have a heart of a child at whatever 28 is in human years compared to horse years. (If you ask my co-workes, they would say that won't be a problem, I am sure). But I was sold on Wild Aagain. What a personailty, and HE LOOK AMAZING FOR A HORSE WHO IS TURNING 29 SOON!!!!

What race horses have you met that left an impression?


UPDATE 12/5/08

It is my unfortunate duty to report that due to aging difficulties, our close friend Wild Again passed today.

How I am so glad to have met him and torn to lose him without seeing him one last time.



Leave a Comment:


I visited Gainesway in 1995. I was so amazed that they let me pet Talinum, Digression, and Thirty Six Red. I also had my picture taken with the boys. Talinum was the biggest thrill of the group. He was absolutely gorgeous. Visiting him started to make amends for never having gotten to see his daddy Alydar in person. I also was priviledged to see the great Riverman. He was 26 years old. I was a huge fan of his daughter Triptych, so that was a neat experience.  

10 Nov 2008 5:27 PM
s lee

It's funny you wrote this because I was looking over some Breeder's Cup images and wondering if anybody could pick out the best looking horse of the day - so many of them looked wonderful, and not just because they were well-groomed and healthy, but because they were SOMEBODY and they KNEW it!

Of recent horses, maybe Empire Maker, esp. early in his 3-year-old year, or the Brazilian Leroidesanimaux - he knew he was somebody!  Wonderful colors,  great balance, and eyes that looked right over and through you.

10 Nov 2008 5:31 PM
Dreamer's Mom

Here's an oldie, but goodie-Who Doctor Who.  You can't even begin to imagine the amazing wonderfulness of this kind gentleman!  He was massive in size and had a heart to match.  Or maybe he just seemed massive, but he certainly was lovely to be around.  

10 Nov 2008 6:53 PM

I saw Wild Again at Three Chimneys in 2005.  He was turned out in the paddock next to the parking lot by the visitor's center.  I did not know who he was at the time; all I knew was that I was looking at a beautiful, shiny horse who looked like he was ready for a horse show. When I asked who the horse was, the friendly tour guide said, "Oh him?  That's just Wild Again."  I realize he did not have the celebrity of Smarty Jones, but this was, after all, the first Breeder's Cup Classic winner! It was good to see how the old guys were so well cared for.

10 Nov 2008 6:58 PM

I 'met' Secretariat at Claiborne about 3 months before he died.  The handler bought him out and everyone in our group was allowed to stand right up next to Big Red and have our picture taken.  I had my right hand on him as the photo was snapped and didn't want to ever wash that hand again!  After we all had the opportunity to stand next to him, pet him, and ooh and ahh, he was put back in his stall so we could visit others in the barn.  He pressed his nose up against the grate and watched our group the whole time as if to say, 'Hey!  I'm the big man around here!  Come back and admire me some more.'  What a ham.  Just loved that horse.

10 Nov 2008 7:10 PM

I loved reading about your visit with Wild Again and hope I too can visit him next year.  I have been reading up on him this last week after seeing a recently retired 7 year old mare from Finger Lakes whose dam's sire is Wild Again.  The filly is almost black and looks just like Wild Again minus the white blaze.  Her name is Wicken Rede and she is available for adoption at FLTAP, the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program. Gorgeous mare, nice temperament.  FLTAP is the first TB adoption program in the US located on the grouds of a racetrack.

10 Nov 2008 7:13 PM

Wish I lived close and could see all of the greats.  It would be so amazing.  

Thanks for letting me enjoy all

of this through you.

10 Nov 2008 8:26 PM

I met Sea Hero at Lanes End several years ago.  A rather large tour group was making the rounds and he was in his paddock.  Upon the sight of us, he took of at top speed through his paddock.  He would run right at the fence with such speed I was sure he would crach through it, only to turn on a dime and head off again.  When he got through, he actually came up to each little group and bowed to us.  What a show by the derby winner.

10 Nov 2008 8:31 PM

HI Adam~Love this subject!  One of my favorites is A.P. Indy...he knows he is the king of Lane's End & he is usually so laid-back--I love his intelligent eyes!  Another I enjoy visiting is Bernardini--he has the most gorgeous face...could stare at him all day--he seems to love to posing for photos.  Officer was very sweet when I met him & loved attention.  Mr Greeley...another supremely handsome horse--made such an impression the first time I saw him.  I miss Charismatic--SO big, beautiful, & muscular--I have a definite weakness for chestnuts, but I think he was definitely one of the most lovely thoroughbreds I have ever seen!  

10 Nov 2008 8:38 PM
needler in Virginia

Without a doubt, it's Seattle Slew and Slew Of Gold at Three Chimneys in 1989! NO QUESTION! Slew was above all our foolishness and viewed us with a bit of disdain, but his monstrous son demanded his tongue be pulled......and, as instructed, I pulled his tongue for what SEEMED like an acceptable period of time. When I forgot to perform my designated duties, he nailed me and almost removed the muscle portion of my right arm just below the elbow. Handler was upset and apologetic, but AFTER ALL it was my own damned fault, and I count myself lucky to be one of those with permanent reminders of the Slews of Three Chimneys......both the scar on my arm AND the memories of seeing those two amazing stallions turned out in their respective paddocks, THE Slew rolling and creating a small dust storm, and his son racing the wind down the fence line.

Can it get any better than that??


10 Nov 2008 8:56 PM
Ann A.

This summer, I visited several breeding farms. When I went to Adena Springs, Congaree wasn't one of the stallions I was most excited about seeing but he won me over. He was so sweet and the groom said Congaree always comes over to say hello to visitors. Awesome Again and Giacomo were also nice.

At Shadwell Farm, Invasor had a very strong presence. He knows how special he is!

10 Nov 2008 9:52 PM

Oh thank you so much for this read! You put me right there, I could almost smell the air. I just love these stories about how the horses are doing after their racing days. I met a horse called Whittingham; yep you guessed it, named after Charlie. I don't remember his age or how he was rescued but he's having fun now! What a personable guy he is. Thanks again for the story, I can't wait to visit in 2009.

10 Nov 2008 11:08 PM

I loved this post, Adam. It's so wonderful to hear about the habits and personalities of these champions in their retirement days.

I have not yet been able to see Alysheba or Big Brown and look forward to meeting them both in my next trip to Kentucky.

My favorite memory is the time I watched John Henry prepare to enter the show pavilion for his Hall of Champions entrance. This was about eight years ago. The handler was having trouble with an obstinant lock of John's mane and plucked it, and I was in the right place at the right time to accept the gift.

John was as cantankerous as ever, but when he was led just to the cusp of the barn, you could see a change in him. You could hear the race call from the video in the pavilion, and as the announcer said John's name and his handler led him in, he raised his head and pricked his ears. His legs sprung into action, and he propelled his body forward like he was a fiesty four-year-old, driving forward with power and grace. I'll never forget the metamorphosis of that moment, how he became a young horse right before our eyes. He knew who he was, and he reveled in it.

10 Nov 2008 11:21 PM

Living up here in New Hampshire I don't get the opportunity to "meet" many "big names" in person, but I did get to meet Forego at Kentucky Horse park in 1986, for some reason John Henry was not there at the time I went. Forego was an especial favorite of mine during his racing years. His care taker told me he was still a force to be recokoned with and really didn't care for people and was surprised when Forego cuddled up to me, laid his head sideways and I actually got to pat him. Apparently "lunchmeat" was how he preferred visitors.

We are planning another visit soon, my husband's favorite is DaHoss, and I love all 4 that are there. (I love 'em all everywhere, LOL)

I am SO happy you fussed over Wild breaks my heart how soon they're forgotton for the "In Vogue" of the day.

11 Nov 2008 8:54 AM
Kelly E.

Thank you for your thoughts on Alysheba and Wild Again.  Alysheba was the first horse I followed throughout his career and I loved him then and love him still.  I have "met" Wild Again several times and he has always been a favorite of mine - as was Slew o' Gold who was the sweetest horse to be around.

However, the greatest honor and thrill for me was meeting Silver Charm at Three Chimneys.  We happened on him on a day that the Lewises were visiting and they were having their picture taken with their horse and I will never forget the loving pats and the huge smiles that that lovely couple were giving to their "boy."  Silver Charm knew he was a champ and had a real presence to him.  He actually was much more attractive in person and surprised me with how big and balanced he was.  I will not soon forget what it felt like to run my hand down the neck of my hero and say a quick thanks for all the memories.

11 Nov 2008 9:23 AM

I had the good fortune of covering the 1992 Breeders' Cup at Gulfstream Park for a Florida newspaper. I was doing a series of advance stories on all the Florida-breds entered, which included Gilded Time, who was bred by Harry Manguarian Jr. Now he was a horse that took your breath away. Gilded Time was so muscular and well-developed, he looked more like a 3-year-old than a juvenile. The bonus was watching him go on to win the Juvenile.

I visited him again at Vinery a couple of years ago. He's still a physically striking horse.

11 Nov 2008 9:46 AM

Well, it sounds as though you had a great time!  I will be seeing Alysheba in April when I am in Lexington for the Rolex 3-Day Event.  The biggest comment I would like to make right now is that I sincerely hope that the King realizes how excited Americans are to receive such a wonderful gift. Thank you, King.  

11 Nov 2008 9:55 AM

I met Street Sense at Darley. He was running the fence line that faced Hard Spun. Hard Spun was ignoring him while he grazed and Street Sense had worn a hole in the ground from running. He kept hollering and looking over at Hard Spun as though he was challenging him to another race. What a sight!

11 Nov 2008 10:08 AM

When Darley was still Jonabell, I saw Affirmed there.  I am/was the ultimate Alydar fan, so this is tough.  But Affirmed was the ultimate Gentleman. There were only 3 people there but he stood there, let us rub his neck, and i was impressed.  There definitely something about that horse.  He had that air. And after meeting him in person, I have a different attitude about him. He was special.

11 Nov 2008 10:47 AM

  This october while in Lexinton I visited Claiborne Farms. I wanted to see Eddington who was one of my favorites when he was on the track. Such a huge horse he is, very pretty and also has a calm demeanor. One of the ladies in the group had peppermints and gave him one. I thought it was weird how he tokk it then curled his upper lip over his nose.

  When we went back into the barn to see Seeking the Gold I noticed a horse in the stall to my right, he had a beautiful white blaze on his head, he put his nose up to the gate as if to say Hey What About Me? I put my hand out and petted his nose which he seemed to enjoy. On the plate by his stall it said his name was During. I did remember him from his racing days. Such a beautiful horse he is he really impressed me.

11 Nov 2008 10:51 AM

While gas is cheap, take advantage and help the economy by coming to the KY and seeing The Horse Park, Old Friends Retirement Home, and all the great farms around here!  Three Chimneys does tours for tourists.

Thats funny needler in VA, a demand for a tongue pulling eh? Sorry about the bite, but you at leats got a great story out of it. I like the Slews.

Jamie: So Jon Henry was Cranky huh?

I love Empire Maker as well...Jedi Code is an Empire Maker =)

Kelly E.: Silver Charm's profile has been updated on his farm page with new photos from Japan. Go check them out.

11 Nov 2008 11:32 AM

Years ago I was in Kentucky and my husband and I  did the rounds of the stud farms. I got to see all my favorites. They took Mr. P out of his stall for me and at the time he looked great even though he was on in age. Later on I got to see Alydar and Affirmed who happened to be in opposite paddocks. The groom who took us around swears the they would race back and forth along the fence line. I asked him who won more often than not. He said Affirmed but I thought I detected a mischievous grin on his face since he knew I was an Alydar fan.I almost lost a finger to that beautiful son of gun (but he wasn't mean.)  I got to see Easy Goer and I even got to visit him in his paddock and hand feed him. Later I got to see Alysheba, fed him a couple of mints , saw Wild Again, and even got to see Seattle Slew (but he was confinded to his stall since had a minor injury to one of his legs). I came home with walking pneumonia, but I would have died happy if things hadn't worked out.Everyone at the farms were wonderful.  Now I have alot of new horses to go see and maybe I'll get to see some of the mares this time.

11 Nov 2008 12:07 PM
Blue Blue Sea

Love the coments on Alysheba - he's my horse's maternal grandsire. Also love the comments by Kim on Sea Hero - he's my horse's sire. He'll do that exact same thing if turned out in a smallish paddock.

11 Nov 2008 12:09 PM

Am going to the Horsepark soon and can't to see Alysheba.  I saw Tiznow on a visit a couple years ago to Winstar -- what a handsome, nice guy!  The handlers were lovely to me and let me feed him a peppermint.  

I feel in love with John Henry at my first visit to the KY Horsepark  -- he had just been given a bath and his handler was trying to catch him in his stall for the show.  The handler was begging him not to roll in the stall -- so after eyeing him down, JH takes a good roll in the straw.  What a personality.  

11 Nov 2008 12:25 PM

Many years ago I took the University of Louisville's Equine Industry program to a central KY breeding farm. It was just down the street from Claiborne.  We visited 2 stallions in particular.  Both were jet black and had reputations as being mean and nasty.  THEY WERE.  Halo and Sunday Silence were in facing paddocks and would race each other up and down the fence line.  Sunday Silence was only a few days away from being sold and sent to Japan.  At that time, we did not know that.  I can remember the stories the hanlders told us of Halo and why he wore a muzzle.  Sunday Silence was a black jet.  ALthough listed as a Dark bay or brown horse, I can tell you he was black.  There was no brown on him...other than dried dirt.  He was absolutely beautiful and he knew he was the man.  His daddy thought the same, but I think he knew there was a new man on the farm.  Now 18 years later, I remember it as though it was just yesterday.

11 Nov 2008 1:41 PM
Kelly E.

It's great thinking of the stallions.  I wanted to share some more I've been lucky to have "met":

The first TB stallion I ever got close to was Black Tie Affair at Vinery.  What a gorgeous, well mannered horse.  I remember thinking that his coat felt like silk.  From there we got to have our pic taken with Strike the Gold - a favorite of mine from the Derby.  He was feisty and the groom had to keep a good hold of him.

Some others - Fusaichi Pegasus at Ashford.  I remember petting him as the groom told me he was worth $60-$70 million.  WOW, what a feeling!  Woodman was there - an older fellow and reportedly very tough around people.  Louis Quatorze is still one of the most beautiful horses that I have seen.  I saw him at Ashford too just before he moved out of state.  I have so many memories - visiting the stallions is a favorite thing to do when in Kentucky.  I also got to pet Giant's Causeway - what a thrill that was! He was a cool customer and very aware of who and what he was.

Claiborne farm was fantastic to visit.  I saw Mr. Prospector there - the groom gave the old gent a mint over the fence.  Unbridled was brought out for us and the groom gave him mints and pulled his tongue.  I remember it was rainy that day and he had mud all over him...but that couldn't manage to make him look like a "common" brown horse.  He was still magnificent.  Benny the Dip almost took a chunk out of my sister's arm as she backed up too close to his paddock for a picture.  Pulpit was beautiful and full of energy when we saw him.  Go For Gin was one that had an aggressive "eye" and I had no notion of getting too close - he was known to bite.  Another time we happened upon the breeding shed as they were bringing Danzig down to cover a mare.  He was muzzled (as he liked to bite the mares) and ready to go.  I won't soon forget that!  Seeing the plaques on the stall that Secretariat occupied was even exciting.  Also, the graveyard gives you chills but for a different reason that what you'd think.  The names on the headstones were a who's-who of the Hall of Fame.  Our groom's favorite was Round Table and he wouldn't let us take a picture of him unless it was beside RT's grave.

Seeing and petting AP Indy was a great honor too.  What a gorgeous animal with one of the prettiest eyes and faces I have seen on a stallion.  Pleasantly Perfect was an aboslute monster of a horse - size wise.  He was very curious as to what we were doing and sniffed my camera for a good minute.

Adena Springs was lovely to visit - we got to see Awesome Again and Ghostzapper.  Both are rather unassuming horses in person but it was a great thrill to be so close to them both.  Ghostzapper is a favorite of mine.  I think that was the farm that had El Prado (but don't quote me on that).  I remember him being big and white and the groom being very enthusiastic about him.  It's obvious to see how much these stallions are loved by those who take care of them.

Sorry for the rambling post.  I guess I've been pretty lucky to have visited so many famous names in the stallion directory.

11 Nov 2008 2:15 PM

Alysheba was the first race horse I really got excited about - I saw him run against Ferdanand a couple of times at Santa Anita- I am glad that Alysheba is at the Horse Park.

I visited Claiborne Farm last summer - I found First Samurai and During to be very handsome and surprising sweet. Seeking the Gold was quite impressive but we were told he can be nasty to visiters.

11 Nov 2008 3:12 PM

Hey Adam, great piece, love to see the "new guys" in the sport display and write such passion and appreciation, kudos!

As for the horse that left the impression for me...hands down (of recent visits) is Afleet Alex.

I got a chance to visit him in '06 at Gainesway, and it was a moment I'll never forget.

He's an old soul, and he looks at you, and then nearly through you, and stops somewhere deep inside. He is kind, SO very kind, and of the group of people there to see him that day, he picked out my then 12 year old son as the person HE wanted to actually meet.  He just kept staring at him, so intently, until my son was given the okay to walk up and pet him.

He stood contentedly as my son petted him and he posed for pictures.

As I stood watching this mighty little horse...he just has an air about him, as though he's not quite of this world. There is something so striking, so...well, other-worldy about Afleet Alex in person, it truly made me forget to breathe for a few seconds. It's intangible, but undeniable, should you ever find yourself face to face with this horse.

I've been an avid (some say rabid, haha) fan of racing since 1979, and have been fortunate to "meet" a lot of my favorites, both old and new. But NO single horse gave me the moment Afleet Alex did.

I consider him a "must see" for any racing fan, even if you didn't neessarily call yourself a fan of his when he raced.

He's like nothing you've ever experienced before. :)

Thanks again for the article Adam, great work, and great replies by the fans!

11 Nov 2008 3:29 PM

  LOVEMYLAVA, I wanted to see Afleet Alex when I was in Kentucky this October but when I called for a tour Gainesway said they didn't have tours for the public so I guess I'll never have a chance to meet the old soul. He was one of my all times favorites and will never forget his feat in the Preakness when he almost went to his knees, righted himself and went on to win.

11 Nov 2008 4:23 PM
Dreamer's Mom

That's it, no Christmas for us this year-we are going to Kentucky to visit "The Boys"!  

Can't remember who mentioned Halo, but it made me laugh!  Our son of Devil's Bag is the biggest sweetheart in the world so I'm guessing he got his personality from his Mom!

This blog should be in every publication known to man.  It truly shows the love we have for these horses.  They aren't just business.  They are family even if they are "extended family".  From the grandest stakes winner, to $2500 claimers, someone, somewhere loves them.  How cool is that?

11 Nov 2008 6:29 PM
Cat Mom

A couple of people have mentioned Empire Maker. I saw him earlier this year. He is gorgeous...looks like a show horse. He is listed as being 16.1 but I thought he looked bigger than that. He wasn't mean but he was a little bratty and full of himself. The stallion manager said they shouldn't spoil him, but they do. :-) Also at Juddmonte is Mizzen Mast. He was calm and sweet. He is a beautiful grey with a very thick mane and tail.

I went to Three Chimneys in 1989 or 1990. I got to pet Chief's Crown and Slew o' Gold and feed them treats. Both of them were very kind. I also went to Stone Farm and saw Sunday Silence before he went to Japan. I fed him peppermints, but I had to be a little careful because he seemed like he would bite if he had the chance. He was pretty energetic and full of himself.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories! I love hearing about the horses and their personalities. It's my favorite part of racing.

12 Nov 2008 10:56 AM

Hey Donna, you might want to try again with Gainesway during more "obvious" time frames, Derby week, and during the bigger sales, etc. They seem to be a bit more accommodating then, as I think they know people are likely just to show up anyway, may as well open  the doors. I wish you luck, 'Alex was and is a great favorite of mine too, and I hope you get the chance to give him a pat! :)

12 Nov 2008 6:22 PM

Oh, my  - My FAVORITE thing to do in Kentucky is to see the horses!!I even find the gravesites cool. Of course I was a BIG Easy Goer fan, and after he past away (I had my photo taken with him a couple of times) I asked if he was in the main grave area - if not say nothing, as I knew it would be on the hill - Head, Heart and Hooves.

My favorite horse was one who surprised me, Housebuster. Vinery had Affirmed, Vigors, Cure the Blues at the time and they all where ready to take off at the site of this "chuck wagon". Housebuster came out and just looked at it and was ready for a nap. Hard to believe he was a great sprinter!

13 Nov 2008 2:25 PM
Karen in Indiana

Hi, Adam. On the way to pick my son up from Ft. Campbell after he just got back from Iraq, I was lucky enough to take a tour of Three Chimneys (they just so happened to have 1 spot open). We saw Big Brown & Rahy. Then they got another horse out of the paddock up the hill and that horse bounced his way down the hill like a prizefighter on the way to the ring. He also kept pulling his groom around. It was Wild Again and I remembered your blog. I would never have believed how old he was, he looked and acted like a teenager. They take very good care of their horses and it shows. Next year, I plan on a couple of days down there going to the Horse Park, Old Friends and seeing how Big Brown has settled in.

28 Nov 2008 9:31 PM

Hi Karen,

Thank you so much for this comment. Tell your son hi for me and thank him for his service over seas. I have some very good friends serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I totally understand the prize fighter mentality and being amazed at how active Wild Again is, then to find out how old he is! Three Chimneys definitely knows how to take care of their athletes.

01 Dec 2008 1:58 PM

It is my unfortunate duty to report that due to aging difficulties, our close friend Wild Again passed today.

How I am so glad to have met him and torn to lose him without seeing him one last time.

05 Dec 2008 3:09 PM
Wild KY Momma

This article is very well written and I thank you for writing it.  You captured exactly what I saw the day I met Wild Again at Three Chimney's I was captured by his personality - playful, spirited at 28 years old!!!  Sadly, he passed later that same year and my heart was broken.  I visited his gravesite in April at the Three Chimney's Open House.  He's right next to his stallmate Capote.  I think they might be running wild again...

08 Aug 2009 11:45 AM

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