International Relations - By Wendy Christ

(Originally published in the November 20, 2010 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.

  Industry newbie, limited budget, I stretched to land a broodmare at the Keeneland November mixed sale in 2001. A maiden mare light on paper—luck would be required to make her offspring commercially appealing. Who knew that first foal would mark my introduction to racing abroad?

Exported to Ireland—could I keep track, watch her run? The Internet became my ally. (HorseTracker), AttheRaces to the rescue—entry alerts and live video! 

Over time the mare did her part—producing attractive foals, sold beyond the dictates of their page. Racing was another story…vetting issues, untimely death—you know the drill. In February I lost my mare and her beautiful foal. We soldiered on. The 2010 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April sale of 2-year-olds in training—her last surviving offspring and our final connection. Silent prayer? Get into capable hands, remain on United States soil—potential breeder awards on the line. Sold to an owner from Korea. Great, toss in a language barrier.

Friends call me a ferret, constantly digging for information. Add terrier; tenacious, unwilling to let go. True to form I must establish a link to the lovely, chestnut filly I raised—Murphy’s Law—she’ll be the one! Horseracing in Korea, (Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance), I post an inquiry and hope for a response.

June 30: “You’ve Got Mail!” Alistair—my goodwill ambassador. Beyond the call of duty, he is a fountain of information; Korean Stud Book registry page/picture provided, owner, trainer, and personal note—”Two-year-old racing at Seoul doesn’t usually begin until August or September, so I don’t expect her to be on the track for a little while yet, but more than one person has mentioned her name, so it seems that plenty is expected of her!” 

July 24—Update! First appearance, Seoul Race Course—five-furlong trial. “Manchester Miss raced 10 others, finished second—now eligible for sanctioned race. Interestingly, the reason I was watching this trial, she was beaten a half-length by a gelding named Subsidy, now 10 and one of Korea’s most successful racehorses.” Formerly Korean Horse of the Year and one of the last foals by Mr. Prospector still competing. “Subsidy is semi-retired, but very fit and still very fast!” Thus, her journey begins.

Aug. 29—Debut! “By race time, we were into the eighth hour of a tropical storm in Seoul; the track was a quagmire, horses running into a blanket of rain in the stretch.”

Who needs live streaming video? Sent off as the favorite, she finished sixth, beaten five lengths.

“She did quicken toward the end and finished as fast as any of them, but it was far too late to mount a challenge. Due to the weather I wasn’t able to get a good picture of her, the only one I have is of her rather despondently returning to the saddling enclosure.”

Sure enough—like a drowned rat; soggy and dejected. Better days ahead!

Oct. 10—Holy Cow! Results just posted (morning coffee in Florida—race card complete in Seoul). Courtesy of Korean Horseracing Authority website; chart and video replay! There’s my girl—full field of 12, allowance, 3-year-olds and up. What? She’s only 2! Voila—mail from Alistair!

“Second outing today, undercard of the Minister’s Cup (final leg of Korean Triple Crown), Manchester Miss went in race 2, over six furlongs. She did a bit better—finished second to an experienced 4-year-old gelding. Her odds were 9-1 to win and even money to show.”

Watching replay, she did well to stay on her feet—knocked sideways by the eventual winner, hustled up and over toward the rail following the break.

“I happened to be by the paddock before the race and took a couple of pictures of her. I was also by the winning line and got as good an action shot as I could. Sadly, it’s not a win picture just yet, but she’s got potential!”

I’ve already won. In a time when horse racing desperately needs feel good stories—I am living mine, even from a distance—all thanks to a little help from a friend.

Worlds apart—we share a common denominator; love of the sport, moreover—the equine athlete. 

Final note: I received a note Oct. 25 regarding Subsidy. It appears the trial which my filly ran in was the final trip to the track for this gallant old(er) gelding. Pray that he enjoys a long and happy retirement!


Leave a Comment:


That's so exciting!!!!  I wish the best to you and your little filly, she sounds like quite the racehorse!  Racing needs more people like you!

16 Nov 2010 7:52 PM

Some yearn for the "good 'ole days", but how amazing that modern technology allows strangers from the far corners of the earth to share this specific information?  The kindness shown by Alistair's willingness to find answers for a fellow horse lover, is proof of the special bond that connects this community.  Great story!

17 Nov 2010 12:36 AM

Great article, well written too. Nice to know there is still passion for the throughbred business and it's worldwide reach.

18 Nov 2010 12:14 PM

Enjoyed the article so much.Wish you the best for you and your horse.Hoping to hear more

18 Nov 2010 12:17 PM

What a story -- and with such eloquent delivery! You are a total pro! I feel like I'm there...

18 Nov 2010 5:05 PM

Can understand completely your bond.  Wonderful to be able to follow her in Korea.  Please keep us updated on her progress.

18 Nov 2010 7:07 PM

That is a feel good story! Hopefully she'll be subject of many more to come.

19 Nov 2010 1:45 PM
Mary Lynn Geisler

I am not in the thoroughbred business, but I can relate to this article because I am a breeder of Morgan show horses. Many breeders have the same dreams,goals,and ups and downs all for the love the horse and its potential!  It is a thrill of the highest order to breed the Champion in its division. Words will never be able to express that feeling of awe when you have come close or have accomplished this fete! Somehow, it is all worth it and it is what keeps we in the horse industry, against all odds, moving forward to our next challenge! This is what I feel when I read your article---Job well done!

19 Nov 2010 5:44 PM
Scratch One

Your dedication and love of horses is obvious and your writing style is both entertaining and unique.  Hope to read many more articles by this accomplished author

19 Nov 2010 8:10 PM
Denise Skladany

Thank you. Loved reading your story. Please continue to keep us informed, now want to hear how she does. Hope the best for that old gelding.

22 Nov 2010 7:40 AM
Lorri S

It's good to be reminded occasionally that racing is not all about Zenyatta, Rachel and the like. There's a whole wide world out there who love their racing, yet here in the US it seems to be going the way of the dinosaur. What are we doing wrong?

Good luck to you and your horses, both those running and those coming up in the future. You're not finished yet. You have the love of horses and now you've been bitten the itch just won't go away. I look forward to reading more of your O/seas adventures.

26 Nov 2010 12:24 AM

Great story!  Good luck with Manchester Miss and your friends in Korea who are so nice to keep you abreast of how she's doing!

08 Jan 2011 1:23 AM

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