Pancho’s Turn in the Spotlight

   Among those waiting to greet Curlin as he galloped back triumphantly to the Nad Al Sheba winner’s circle was his nearly white stable pony, Pancho, who had accompanied him in the post parade while steered by exercise rider Carlos Rosas.

     When Curlin walked out of sight into the enclosure that serves as both a parade ring and winner’s circle and Rosas followed him to see the ceremony, Pancho became distressed.

     Toni Hodge, quarantine manager for the Dubai Racing Club, broke with tradition and led Pancho down into the winner’s area, where the stout Quarter Horse bounced on his toes as he caught sight of Curlin.

    “He deserves to be here,” Hodge said of Pancho, who has become a favorite with Dubai Racing Club officials during his approximately six-week stay in Dubai with Curlin.

     After being festooned with a bright red fringed cooler proclaiming him the winner of the world’s richest race, Curlin made his way out of the crowded enclosure, the intensity of the race still vividly on his face. Yet when he saw Pancho, his ears shot up, and the pair walked out together, sharing in a small way this win that they both had worked so hard to achieve.



Leave a Comment:

V. Hammond

I have enjoyed reading all the blogs about the Dubai experience. This small story about Poncho is wonderful.  How special is Toni Hodge the quarantine manager to see the moment, and allow it to happen?  It seems that Dubai racing is great not just for the money but also for the effort made by all, top to bottom.

30 Mar 2008 5:31 PM

It is very cool that this reporter can see the connection between non- human friends. So many folks deny the existance of emotion in animals when it is surely there if one stops to look. Thank you for that wonderful image.

30 Mar 2008 6:48 PM
BMC Racing

Neat article. Congrats to Pancho and team.  I'm so proud of Curlin and his achievements.  "Long Live The Great Curlin" Hope to see him at Santa Anita in the fall to complete the Breeders Double and move on to his next life as an equally great Sire...

30 Mar 2008 7:06 PM

Thanks for a column on the unsung heroes of the racetrack-the horses that take care of the super stars! Well done Pancho!!!

30 Mar 2008 7:45 PM

Beautiful story.  It is wonderful tribute to all who help make great horses GREAT HORSES!  Well done.

30 Mar 2008 7:56 PM

I love Pancho...

30 Mar 2008 8:04 PM
J. Carson Black

I'm so glad Pancho got to take care of his charge.  It is, after all, his responsibility, and he doesn't take that responsibility lightly.  No wonder everyone in Dubai loves him. Luckily pony horses don't run for claiming tags---otherwise, he'd be living large in Dubai for the rest of his life.  

30 Mar 2008 9:54 PM
Susan in Saratoga

Thank you for this sweet portrayal of the true and abiding friendship between these two great horses. Long may both of them run!

Slan abhaile (safe home in Irish) to you, dear Curlin, dear Pancho. We shall keep a light lit for ye back home.

31 Mar 2008 12:21 AM

I loved this story!!

31 Mar 2008 10:27 AM
Kathy J.

Pancho has got to be Curlin's biggest and most important supporter.  It's wonderful that he was made part of Curlin's 'party'! A very special day for both horses.

31 Mar 2008 11:47 AM

All hale Pancho... what a loyal friend to a winner.. He deserved his moment in the spotlight... a lovely story

31 Mar 2008 12:02 PM
Barbaro's Forever Friend in CA

Ohhh:) Pancho 'bounced on his toes when he saw Curlin':)

What a LOVELY story and a LOVELY man who allowed it to unfold!

Thanks for sharing this with your readers!

31 Mar 2008 4:22 PM
truth will set you fre

what a race horse curlin is

31 Mar 2008 7:50 PM

That is absolutely the sweetest story of friendship I've ever read.

31 Mar 2008 10:08 PM
Cheryl G

That was a great story!! It's nice that Pancho finally got his time in the spot light!! I'm sure Curlin appreciates him a bit more after his long trip to Dubai -- no more biting Pancho's ears!!



01 Apr 2008 10:23 PM

'Livin' on the road my friend is gonna keep you free and clean, now you wear your skin like iron, your breath as hard as kerosene'

"Pancho And Lefty" Townes Van Zandt

02 Apr 2008 10:16 PM

PS: I hope the BH keeps tab on Pancho as much as they will on Curlin. Panch deserves a life of sweet grass retirement.


03 Apr 2008 9:13 PM

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