Free Food, Free Knowledge 2009

 Free Food, Free Knowledge 2009

The open houses for 2009 held lots of good experiences, bitter cold and crazy winds aside. Once again I was able to venture out and visit old friends, meet many new friends and eat good food. Actually, the cold is the only big difference compared to last year's trips.

So travel with my motley crew took me to previously never visited farms like WinStar, Hill 'n' Dale, Vinery, and Darley. Then I had to revisit the winner of last year's rounds, Lane's End. I did visit Three Chimneys for the first time this past year, but that was during the Big Brown open house in the fall. Though it was amazing, I will have to omit it. You can read about that trip in my co-worker Jason Shandler or Dede Bile's blogs.


WinStar has two horses that I was very excited to see–Distorted Humor and Tiznow. They did bring out Spring at Last and Speightstown, who both looked nice, but I was there to see the legendary Tiznow and talented Distorted Humor.

They are the sires of horses I am a fan of like Hystericallady, Comentator, Flower Alley (who I actually met at that Big Brown open house), Colonel John, Well Armed, and Da'Tara.

Upon entering their stallion barn, we were greeted with much desired heaters and walked passed a very nice foyer with warm soups, sandwiches, cider, and coffee. BUT there was no time to eat, we went to the barn to see the guys. I enjoyed that they did not have such a huge operation of stallions that I couldn't see them all...I was able to see who I wanted.

As for the food, they had an amazing cheese and broccoli soup. If you have ever had the loaded baked potato soup at O'Charleys and loved it, think of a similar consistency but more gourmet taste. It was hot and delicious. The cider was icing on the cake.

Hill 'n' Dale

Seattle Slew's tomb marks hallowed ground. With wonderful people working this farm, it was joy to meet many horses who I have grown to love and others I have now grown to respect.

I was most excited to finally see Stormy Atlantic and Shakespeare. They both looked very good, and I had always enjoyed reading about them and seeing their pictures. Shakespeare had an old nostalgia look, but looked good. He and all the other horses were paraded in the center walk of the stallion compound. I really like the layout of Hill 'n' Dale's compound. Stormy Atlantic was the only one who was not brought to the center paddock, but taken out a side to be shown privately, so I strolled over to look at him as well as the company checking out his strut and conformation.

I really enjoyed meeting Candy Ride for the first time. After seeing Capt. Candyman Can and Chocolate Candy do well as 2-year-olds and now at 3, their dad was just as commendable. I enjoyed talking to the stallion manager about Candy Ride's offspring and how this is shaping up to be a good, possibly big, year for Candy Ride.

As a huge Midnight Lute fan, it was great to be face to face with him. I have seen him race before, but I have never been that close to him. Those giant ears and big butt, sprinter and grinder at heart. A Breeders' Cup hero. His presence was very strong to me, he just says determination. I also enjoyed seeing Indygo Shiner.

This was a second stop trip and there was not any food or drink for us at the barn, but we wanted to get in and get out, since it was windy and cold. The horses warmed us up though, seeing all the champs I have not met before. I still think the layout was beautiful.


I was not as excited about stallion show here, because they did not bring out half of the horses. Vinery did have beer available though. It was a little too cold for me to drink something on ice, but it was a very tempting presence. Their food was okay, but the hot-chocolate hit the spot. It was incredibly windy that day.

I did have a guy come up next to me and start chatting. He was telling me about how he "hated to have them get into a biting habit" referring to how horses chop their chains that run through their halter. I regret not asking the man's name, but he was older and genuine, with great insight on the development of horses and habits. I enjoyed his comments.

The biggest reason for me wanting to come to Vinery was to check on Chelokee. I was present, along the rail, as Chelokee rounded that final turn in the Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) and then went down. I remember the jockey flying through the air and the horse ambulance flying onto the track. Chelokee did get back up and walk down the track. I needed to come back and wish him well and see how he was doing. He looked very happy and was a looker, despite the obvious area he'd had some surgery on.  I was happy to see him doing so well, I truly hope he gets a fair chance at stud.

There is actually mention him in an upcoming Eclipse Press entitled Equine ER we are working on. Actually, the writer who mentions him was hanging out by the stall and I was able to meet her and talk to her about how awesome it is to see how well Chelokee was doing.

We were shown Street Hero, Lime House, and More Than Ready. They had scheduled show times with ten minute intermissions, but they didn't show all the horses and would understandably not show Chelokee.

I was very impressed with Street Hero. He looked very good, and once he fills out a bit more, will be a good looker for sure. More than Ready looked like a well-pieced together horse. He looked pretty good in his images, and better in person.


Expectations were high for Darley. I expected nothing but greatness from this perviously unvisited farm. It was fun standing in their walking paddock, as there was plenty of wind and cold, but the onlookers were energetic. Some guys were on the phones bidding on horses at Keeneland, exclaiming it was okay to "Go to 100" meaning $100,000.

Darely had a warm meal that was in a tent and was a wonderful break from the cold wind. Skyline Chili and Apple Cider. Who knew? Well evidently whoever the smarty pants to pick that combo knew. Two coney dogs with everything on it, and warm apple was an amazing combination and I would never have guessed or had the mixture at the same time, but behold. Deliciousness!

The obvious attractions were the ever popular Street boys, meaning Street Sense, Street Cry, and Street Boss. They all looked like family, and Street Sense still glistened with greatness. Rockport Harbor was another horse I wanted to see. His pictures have always been beautiful, and he is one of the relatively few gray/roan's at stud in the area, so he has to represent. Even better in person, Rockport was a win for me.

Street Boss was one of the new stallions this year at Darley, so it was nice to see him up close. I think he has a lot of potential. BUT Hard Spun would be my pick of the newer stallions here. Hard Spun is just a horses horse. Meaning he looks good, fits together, and is proven to run. Retiring sound and strong.

Then came baby face. The beauty that beholds, none other than Bernardini. I have seen the pictures, and those pictures never did anything for me. But my motley crew's reaction, and the reaction of other peeps around were inline with mine. Wow, he looks cute. Not just another face in a crowd.

Caption: Bernardini
Photo: A. Beckstett

Lane's End

The reasons I had to go back: revisit the holder of "best food" title, see the Curlin, War Pass and of course my boys Aragorn and Rock Hard Ten. It was the coldest day by far with 30-mph winds and snow. They were not keeping the horses out very long, if at all, and brought out only those asked to be shown.

The one horse I saw out in their walking ring was Curlin. He still looked like he was prepped for the track. He will be gorgeous when he fills out. It was funny though, before leaving, I went down to see War Pass and Curlin one last time, and War Pass was out. By out I mean he was laying down and sleeping. Curlin however, was standing and sleeping...sort of. My friends said he was laying down when they first got here, so they had to get him up and out of the stall to show him. He was back in his stall, did not want to lay down in case he had to get up again. He was standing with his eyes half open, slowly closing then shaking his head to stay awake. It was hilarious to see him try and stay awake. It was a loosing battle.

The one horse I asked to see, actually the groom didn't even make me ask, he saw my interest and brought out that big boy. He still looked amazing and I am sooooo freakn' excited about his 2-year-olds starting!!!! I am talking about Rock Hard Ten.

After checking on Mingun and the other old friends made last year at Lane's End, it was time to eat in warmth. They had this amazing chili like gumbo vegetable soup.

Results for best food 2009 are:

3rd Darley
2nd WinStar
1st and repeat champ Lane's End

hard spun
Caption: Hard Spun
Photo: A. Beckstett

Thank you for lunch and for introducing me to so many awesome stallions!

Did any of you make it to an open house?

rockport harbor
Caption: Rockport Harbor
Photo: A. Beckstett


Side Notes:

I must point out that my horse Big Bad Leroybrown is racing in the Sunshine Millions Sprint.

$300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint (Race 8, 3:15 p.m.), 4 & Up, 6 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Big Bad Leroybrown (CA), 122, Joseph Talamo
2. Carnacks Choice (FL), 122, Eibar Coa
3. Machismo (FL), 122, Mike E. Smith
4. Partywithlarryz (CA), 122, Tyler Baze
5. Sok Sok (FL), 120, Shaun Bridgmohan
6. Cape Hatchet (CA), 120, Michael C. Baze
7. Georgie Boy (CA), 120, Garrett K. Gomez
8. Devoted Magic (CA), 122, Joel Rosario
9. In Summation (FL), 122, Rafael Bejarano
10. Dancing in Silks (CA), 120, Victor Espinoza
11. Yesbyjimminy (FL), 122, Elvis Trujillo


 Jedi Code Starts his second race upon his return. He finished second in his return race.

Gulfstream Park - January 25th, 2009 - Race 8
Estimated Local Post Time:     4:43 PM
Race Type: Allowance
Breed: Thoroughbred
Age Restriction: Four Year Old and Upward
Purse: $42,000
Distance: One Mile
Surface: Dir



Obi Wan won!
Race 8 Jan 21, 2009 at Penn National

4        Obi Wan        Thomas Clifton       5.40       3.00       2.60
7     Netcong     Luis A. Belmonte           3.80     3.00
9     B L's Metropolitan     William P. Otero                 3.60

Han Solo finished 3rd!
Race 1 Jan 19, 2009 at Fair Grounds

1        Daddy's Lilpunkin        Curt C. Bourque       11.80       4.60       3.40
3     Sea Gaze     Corey J. Lanerie           3.00     2.40
6     Han Solo     James Graham                 4.00

Work Outs:

Jedi Games
Date: January 22, 2009


Distance: Four Furlongs

Time: 49:00 Breezing

Track Condition: Good

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 1/11

Date: January 20, 2009


Distance: Five Furlongs

Time: 1.05:40 Breezing

Track Condition: Fast

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 11/14

Scooby Dubai (derby trail)
Philadelphia Park
4 Furlongs

Dark Vader

Date: January 20, 2009


Distance: Four Furlongs

Time: 46:80 Handily

Track Condition: Fast

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 6/31

Jedi Code
Date: January 21, 2009


Distance: Five Furlongs

Time: 1.01:40 Handily

Track Condition: Fast

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 2/20

Capt. Candyman Can (derby trail)
Palm Meadows
5 Furlongs

Jedi Code

Date: January 16, 2009


Distance: Five Furlongs

Time: 1.03:20 Breezing

Track Condition: Fast

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 12/15

Caption: Tiznow
Photo: Marta


Leave a Comment:

I. W. Hammer

I had the pleasure of seeing Midnight Lute at Hill n Dale. He is visually the most impressive specimen I have ever seen. Wow! Huge but perfectly balanced.

23 Jan 2009 10:20 AM

 Adam what a marvelous time you must have had seeing those great horses. I'm going to make it a top priority for next year to get to Kentucky to go to the farms open houses. Are they usually scheduled the second week of January before the sale or during the sale?

 My goal is to see Hard Spun and I don't believe Darley has any regular open to the public farm tours. I saw his sire Danzig in '03 at Claiborne and have a picture of him. Hard Spun is such a handsome, robust looking horse I believe he is going to be an excellent sire. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us.

23 Jan 2009 10:40 AM

Sounds like you had a blast Adam. Did you put on any weight? Tough job being a reporter for Bloodhorse!

Nice pic of Hard Spun, he looks great. When are you going to go to Airdrie Stud? Check out my fav Harlan's Holiday please and thank you.

23 Jan 2009 10:43 AM

Donna: You can call the farms and see if you can set up a private tour, but I would wait until after the Breeding Season for that (its well on its way), but Darley has a couple days for open houses.

Wanda: I dont think I have gained or lost any weight, feeling good so thanks for asking. I will make sure to go to Airdrie if they announce an open house. Thanks for being so involved on our blogs as well, its great to see familiar faces.

23 Jan 2009 11:23 AM

I am as well extremely excited to see Rock Hard Tens foals! He along with More than Ready are my two favorite stallions. I just cant wait to make the trip out to Vinery and Lanes End and actually see the big guys in real life!

23 Jan 2009 11:51 AM

So do tell; how did my favorite horse, Tiznow, look? What was he like? I'm waiting with baited breath.

23 Jan 2009 12:01 PM

Tiznow's owners did request his stall to have a window, and he sticks out his head whenever a stallion walks by or just to see what is going on. So his custom stall is unique. My coworker always notices when he peeks is funny to see him look around while looking at other stallions.

He definitely has a swager and pressence about him, he looked good and it was obvious why he is successful. I'll even put up an image from the visit for your appetite.

23 Jan 2009 1:35 PM

Hi Adam~Thanks a lot for making me hungry describing all of the food!  I'm glad you enjoyed your trips to the open houses-sounds like you had a great time!  I can't wait to see Curlin...loved your story about him having a hard time staying's funny how the younger stallions tend be rather sleepy...last time I was at Lane's End, After Market was fast asleep in his stall, even with all of the commotion going on. I would love to see Midnight Lute as well.  Did you happen to see Mr. Sekiguchi at Hill 'n Dale (son of A.P. Indy's sister Welcome Surprise)?  He was the highest priced yearling at Keeneland a few years ago and was a gorgeous baby-just wondered how he had filled-out?  Glad you agree now that you have seen for yourself that Bernardini is a looker-that face is something-great photo of him too!  Always enjoy your tales surrounding your assignments--I'm very jealous of your job!  ~Laura

23 Jan 2009 1:42 PM
Frank J.

Adam, did you happen to get a look at Pleasantly Perfect at Lane's End??

23 Jan 2009 4:28 PM

Laura: I can't dismiss the food, it is an important part of these open houses. I like After Market a lot, but I did not see Mr. Sekiguchi at Hill 'n' Dale, sorry about that. He is a A.P. Indy though, so I am sure he was lazy and healthy =)

Frank J: I saw Pleasantly Perfect in passing, it was wicked windy and cold the day we visited Lane's End. i saw him last year, so I just stopped and said hi in his stall. He looked warm and cozy.

23 Jan 2009 4:48 PM

Adam - In your comments about Lane's End you did not mention A.P. Indy.  Did you see him there ?

                  - Diane

23 Jan 2009 6:36 PM

What a WONDERFUL way to spend a cold Kentucky day.

I am jealous in Virginia!

23 Jan 2009 6:48 PM

Diane: I did see A.P. Indy and he is an old friend, he looked as good as ever. As always, a little chubby but still the same laid back swagger and presence.

23 Jan 2009 7:01 PM

My dream trip, along with Old Friends and the Kentucky Horse Park.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

23 Jan 2009 8:32 PM
Dreamer's Mom

So jealous-horses and food!  Glad to hear A.P. Indy is fat and sassy.  I really need to go see him.  I missed Affirmed and Slew because some part of me believed they would live forever.  I will not make the same mistake with A.P. Indy!

23 Jan 2009 9:43 PM
Abbie Knowles

Great article and wonderful photos.  How can anyone not be a fan of BERNADINI????!!!!!!!!!??  Glad he has converted you and am expecting that he will be another Champion Sire of the A P Indy line!!!!!!  I too love Hard Spun and he has a real air about him judging from his photo.  I am a big fan of Darley and all their stallions anywhere in the World!

Interested in Hill N Dale and Lanes End too of course with Seattle Slew being a Hill N Dale resident before he died and "A P" himself being at Lanes End.  Glad Mingun is well.  Love him too!  Miesque was a great filly but my all time favorite was the remarkable Dahlia!!!!!  Then Rags to Riches, Makybe Diva and Intrepidity!  The latter won the Oaks for Sheikh Mohammed, Andre Fabre and Muis Roberts but did nothing of note afterward.  She was a beauty though and won The Epsom Oaks in spite of stumbling at the start and not acting on the track!

Delighted Curlin and War Pass are settling in well.  Agree Curlin will be terrific looking when he fills out.  Always felt he looked better without the plaits too!  But then I prefer horses manes and tails to be unplaited!!!!!   Much more natural!!!!

Before i start getting controversial again I will stop, but i really enjoyed reading about the Stallions and am delighted Tiznow is so well and he looks great in his photo!  Thanks!

God Bless

Best wishes


24 Jan 2009 12:37 AM
Abbie Knowles

Fiorgot to say good luck with Big Bad Leroybrown!  

Are you a Star Wars fan? Just wondered with the names of the other horses!!!!  i liked the first 3 Star Wars films but did not watch the 3 subsequent ones as i did not like the look of the devilish looking character!  But very much enjoyed the first 3 and C3PO, R2D2 and Chewbacca are my favorite characters!!!!  There may be some mispellings there!!!!!

God Bless

Best wishes


24 Jan 2009 12:46 AM

We made the trip up to KY from Ocala for the weekend of the 10th to look at stallion prospects. Stud fees, incentives and market conditions are such that we will be bringing a handful of mares to KY.  Being from FL, seeing the snow and being out in it was pretty cool...for about a day.  

We agree that Midnight Lute was as impressive as any first year stallion we've ever seen.  Poise, grace, class, & just a pure physical specimen.  Harlington was also a head turner.  No food there, but it was our first time to Hill-n-Dale, & we were moved by how beautiful the stallion quarters are.  Very impressed.  

You're right about the cold beer at the Vinery.  Very tempting, but a hot bowl of their stew hit the spot.  Wonderful people, love their stallion roster and a great set-up at the Vinery.  Would appreciate breeder's incentives more than a straight reduction in stud fees.  We were flat out told that the reduction in stud fees should be incentive enough.  Point taken, but cash flow is king right now...

Anyway, if you are such a big fan of Tiznow, have you seen his son Tiz Wonderful?  A mirror image of his sire.  Just a stunning individual.  Again, no food when we were at Spendthrift, but the people were extremely gracious.  Notional looked the part, and Into Mischief was nice.  

Millenium had their open house.  If you are a fan of Chelokee, have you seen Zanjero?  Great balance & presence.  Both he and Student Council make you look twice.  If you like the fare from your kid's school bake sale, the food was good.  The hot coffee was much appreciated!

Lane's End was, of course, top notch.  Curlin was the star, and he was nothing but gracious with his time.  He was pulled out again & again, and he stood there like a champ while everyone oogled over him taking pictures and asking him to walk.  It was a sharp contrast to when we were at Saratoga & saw him stick his head out of his stall.  We were told just to look over our shoulders, keep walking, and try to pretend that we don't know it's him.  It was like the Curlin secret service was going to drop from helicopters and take us away, so it was great to enjoy him in such a different atmosphere.  This was a great event & we were able to appreciate seeing the stars of the Lane's End roster.  While the food gets the blue ribbon, the key here was the Bourbon Hot Toddies!  

God Bless you Kentuckians and your bourbon!!!

24 Jan 2009 2:49 AM
Karen in Indiana

Hi, Adam. Thank you for the stories and the photos. Hard Spun & Tiznow are favorites of mine. I thought that was so nice to hear how Tiznow's owners set conditions for him. That shows that they know their horse well and care for his mental condition as much as they care for his physical.

25 Jan 2009 11:13 AM

Abbie: Thanks for all the colorful comments! I am a huge Star Wars fan. If you ever find time, you should browse through my older blog posts. Several about Star War's named horses and my passion for Jedi Code!

BridleOaks: I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experiences of your trip up here. It sounds like it was a successful trip. The goal is to visit new farms I have not been to before every year. It is great to hear just how the stallions were doing and the adventures you went on. As much as you thank us for our Bourbon, let me thank Florida for it's weather and oranges!

26 Jan 2009 8:51 AM

Jason, what a wonderful report on your open house visits!  Thank you for sharing your days with us.  Of course, I must admit how much I envy you having the pleasure of meeting all those great stallions, but it does not lessen my appreciation for your sharing it with us.  The photos are wonderful, too!  I never was a true fan of Bernardini, but you are so right about his sweet face - he has such kind eyes.  It will be great to see all their babies.  To see the lovely photo tributes to Hard Spun and Tiz Now warms my heart as I really am fond of those two.  Once more, thank you!

26 Jan 2009 1:53 PM

Wow, Adam -- you covered a lot of ground!

Love TIZNOW at WinStar and think he's one of the best chances for the Man o'War sire line... excited about CANDY RIDE (ARG) at Hill 'n' Dale and hope that he and Invasor (ARG) prove popular up here ... am convinced that Darley's STREET CRY (IRE) is the most promising new sire of the generation... love MINGUN at Lane's End (and glad you got to see your boy ROCK HARD TEN -- he has similar breeding patterns to one of my faves, PURIM).

Interesting notes on CHELOKEE, too.  I just looked into his pedigree a bit in comparison to YONAGUSKA... so similar on paper.

Great post.

27 Jan 2009 5:29 PM

Adam, thanks for the Tiznow photo and the extra info. So glad they are feeding his inner character as well as his body.

27 Jan 2009 5:58 PM
Abbie Knowles

Hi again. This has little to do with racing!  Just watched Star Wars after a hiatus of 20 years so could not remember much of it which made it more enjoyable and i did enjoy it very much indeed.  Came across the special edition original trilogy videos in Oxfam at a bargain price of £2.99 so snapped them up.  Watched Star Wars due to the racing abandonment Stateside due to the horrendous weather conditions you been blasted with for which you all have my sympathy!  We just have lots of rain or icy conditions in the UK at present.

Still like R2D2, C3-P0 and Chewbacca best except I do like Obi Wan Kenobi as much too!  Like Han, Luke and Princess Leia also of course and have always thought that although Harrison Ford has been brilliant in all the many films I have seen him in, he was at his best in Star Wars!

Will probably make time to watch The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi this week too!  Then i will look up the older blog sites and will hopefully understand them better!  I have always liked Star Wars but really have forgotten what happened in the films for the most part!  Just know the ending was happy or i would not have liked them!

Harley my dog and Simba my chinchilla watched with me.  Malti was plotting her next escape and scamp messing up by kicking sawdust and food out where i had hoovered outside of his cage!  Simba did not get too scared but was not keen on the fighting.  He is terrified of the very evil Queen in the Disney film Enchanted and was even more terrified of John Mcrirrick's dreadful rendition of Walk On which ruined the Morning line last Saturday for any sane person!  He ruins it anyway!!!!!

What  load of waffle!


God Bless

Best wishes


28 Jan 2009 7:16 PM
Abbie Knowles

Another completely irrelevant piece of waffle from me!  Watched the Empire Strikes back this evening. It did not rivet me like Star Wars probably because it was darker!  Did enjoy it though and am looking forward to the Return of the Jedi this evening unless I watch ATR Stateside.  Will watch "Jedi" soon anyway!  Can remember really liking that one!  Not sure if i will bother watching the other Star Wars films as without the cast of this trilogy i think I may not find them that interesting.  But that is dismissing them out of hand which is wrong, so may change my mind!

Also watched the Darley (2001) Stallion video a good friend sent me!  Managed to watch Dubai Millenium without getting all choked up and upset this evening for the first time this week!  I really loved him and his tragic, untimely death still hurts.  Hope Dubawi and Echo of Light prove phenomenal stallions!  Can't wait to see Dubawi's runners this year!  Maybe  less accomplished sons of Dubai Millenium on the racetrack will also excel as stallions!  Dubai Millenium was outstanding in every way!  What a horse!

Also loved watching Halling, Singspiel and Daylami in particular too but love watching them all!  Good memories!


God Bless

Best Wishes


29 Jan 2009 8:12 PM

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