Smarty Says Goodbye

The following story first appeared on Bloodhorse.com on Aug. 15, 2004.

Once again, the fans flocked to the glitter palace that for a brief moment in time was Philadelphia Park. They came to get one final glimpse of the equine king who ruled there for three glorious months, and who was now abdicating his throne at the height of his reign.

Despite the high energy that rippled through the track, Philly Park was no place for sunshine on Aug. 14. The drops of rain that began to fall just as Smarty Jones marched down the stretch for his farewell appearance were matched only by the tears shed by many of his loyal fans. They came to say goodbye, and watching Smarty prancing along on his toes as if longing for competition made his retirement all the more difficult to understand.

Cries of "Smarty! Smarty!" and "We love you, Smarty," poured out from the large crowd gathered along the rail from one end of the stretch to the other. It was one final burst of emotion, whether in the form of cheers or tears, from an adoring public who opened their hearts to this dynamo of a horse.

For Philadelphia Park, they had already spent around $125,000 to refurbish the vacant third floor for Smarty's expected appearance in the Pennsylvania Derby, decorating it with new carpeting and chandeliers and building mutual counters. Another $500,000 was to go toward the construction of temporary seating for 5,000 to 7,000 fans and an air-conditioned VIP tent that would hold about 700. Also in the works had been a proposed $10 million match race between Smarty and his Belmont conqueror, Birdstone, to be held in late September at a track to be announced. The match had already been approved by the connections of both horses, as well as the sponsors. But Smarty’s retirement ended those plans.

"It's going to be pretty teary out there," Philly Park CEO Hal Handel said earlier in the day. "There are a lot of kids and families here. This was our industry's one big chance to get these people involved. But, so be it. Such is life. It's just a shame it has to end this way."

Director of racing Sal Sinatra is still searching for a miracle. "Who knows, maybe in 60 or 90 days they'll change their mind," he said.

Not likely. The bottom line is, Smarty has already passed through that all too familiar portal of time that has disrupted the racing universe for decades. On one side, he was the ruler of all turfdom, a national hero to children and adults of all ages. He turned common folks, like John Servis, Stewart Elliott, Bill Foster, Pete Van Trump, and Dr. Patricia Hogan into household names. He had the city of Philadelphia and the small suburb of Bensalem fighting over him like two jealous suitors. He turned cheese steaks and soft pretzels into soul food. He turned apathy into exultation with his victories and exultation into sorrow with his lone defeat. And finally, he turned sorrow into outrage with his departure. Whatever greatness he might have achieved will remain behind, like an unfinished manuscript filled with beautiful prose, never to be read.

Almost everything that needs to be said about Smarty Jones' retirement has been said, by the media and the fans. Most of it reflects the anger, frustration and disillusionment that comes with retiring a horse like this after promises that he would race again next year. The colt's retirement is not about Three Chimneys Farm. It's the breeder's job to breed and it's the owner's job to race. It was up to the Chapmans to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to retirement. They said yes. It actually was a quote from noted veterinarian Larry Bramlage that ignited the controversy. Bramlage said of Smarty’s chronic bruising in the joints of all four ankles, “The risks are minor. We bring horses back from this injury all the time.” But the comments in general regarding Smarty’s  affliction were contradictory and left people wondering just what the nature of the injury really was. (Three Chimneys’ owner Robert Clay said years later that people were never aware of the severity of Smarty's injury. Unlike many of their stallions, Smarty was never able to be ridden on the farm for fear of doing further damage to his ankles).

So, although Smarty Jones leaves racing with the proverbial whimper instead of the expected bang, only time will tell how he'll be remembered and where he'll stand among the top 3-year-olds of his era. He leaves behind the memory of a nine-race winning streak that reached a glorious crescendo in the Preakness Stakes, in what was the most dominating victory in the race’s history. He even shined in defeat, running his three main Belmont Stakes threats into the ground on the backstretch with a pair of scorching quarters, including an outrageous :22 4/5 third quarter, never before recorded in the mile and a half classic. While the others were left floundering up the track, Smarty battled on with sheer courage only to fall one length short of immortality. And to further prove his potential greatness, he leaves behind a legacy of vanquished foes who have since basked in the spotlight he vacated, attaining riches and glory most felt were meant for him.

On Aug. 14, it was no longer about the Chapmans, who were unable to attend the ceremony, or Servis, or anyone other than Smarty Jones. The appreciative fans stripped away their disappointment and came out on a cloudy, humid afternoon to take one final whiff of the rose, knowing it would never fully blossom.
 
They came decked out in Smarty Jones hats and shirts. Young children held up signs, such as "Smarty you will always be the best in my heart...I will miss you" and "Goodbye Smarty...thanks for the ride!!!" Smarty's entrance had all the fanfare of a Roman legion returning from victory. Members of the large entourage surrounding the colt waved at the crowd as they made their way down stretch, recalling memories of "the walk" on the first Saturday in May. A loud cheer went up when Smarty's blanket was removed as he entered the paddock, revealing the colt in all his physical splendor. Then, following the winner's circle festivities, in which he was presented with a tub of carrots, the cheers started up again as Smarty departed. For the vast majority, it would be the last they would ever see of their hero. It was at this time that the tears began to fall.

There are some in the media who have already placed Smarty Jones in a category with horses like Funny Cide, War Emblem, and Charismatic. That is merely a knee-jerk reaction to the circumstances surrounding his retirement. Smarty Jones will never prove his greatness on paper, but make no mistake, he was great. In fact, there was nothing about him that wasn't great – from his fast times and consistency to his total dominance over horses who went on to achieve success in major stakes. But what separated Smarty Jones from other would-be superstars was the aura of greatness that emanated from him, whether on the racetrack or in his stall. And, yes, even walking from the paddock to the winner's circle to say goodbye. The term "look of eagles" is rarely used any longer, but Smarty had it. He burned it into our hearts, and it is that look that will be missed the most.

In the end, the final glimpse of Smarty Jones heading back to his barn for the last time brought with it feelings of deep gratitude and admiration, but also feelings of sadness and emptiness. After all, heroes are supposed to ride off into the sunset, not walk.

37 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Steve Haskin

Thanks, everyone for the kind words, especially you, Patty. Your words are beautiful and much appreciated. I wasn't looking for a rallying cry or anything. I just was afraid this might be overkill, with a story every day, and am happy to see people are enjoying each one. Because the Derby, which features Patty, and the Belmont are a major part of Smarty's legacy, I will conclude with both those stories, as painful as the latter might be. I tried my best to take a lot of the sting out. But I have to admit I have trouble watching that race myself, and cannot remember the last time I did watch it. But in the end, I think it became a major part of Smarty's legacy, much as Zenyatta's defeat in the Classic was to her legacy.

22 Jun 2011 8:04 PM
Don'tForgetZen

That was beautiful, Steve. Great job on this one. I really do wonder what Smarty could have been...

22 Jun 2011 8:13 PM
Steve Haskin

Oh, and please, don't feel obligated to comment now. I know you're out there. LOL.

Thank you, Zen.

22 Jun 2011 8:23 PM
Paula Higgins

Lovely story Steve, about a little guy with heart.

22 Jun 2011 9:23 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Wow, Steve, the very Dr. Hogan on here!  She is as much of a heroine and star as the two great equine athletes she saved, Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex.  It's great to have her on the blog.  I can't imagine looking at Smarty's horrific injury, she must be a miracle worker.  I went back and reread Steve's article from '04 I believe something about "Can't Keep Up With This Jones."  It details more of Smarty's injury as a 2 yr. old.  Thankfully the equines have such great surgeons as Drs. Hogan, Bramlage, Richardson, etc. on their side.  We can credit Dr. Hogan for getting Smarty to the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont as much as the trainer.  I left Belmont Park that day, I was driving back to NJ with my husband, I'm at the wheel and I don't think I uttered a word the whole trip back I was so dejected from that Belmont Stakes. That is how devastating it was to have been there, you just wanted it so badly for Smarty.  I still say I would be happier if Smarty's feel were firmly planted on that good old Pennsylvania soil, but if he has to go so be it, at least Mrs. Chapman turned down offers from Japan.  Buena Suerte, Smarty!

22 Jun 2011 9:29 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

We're out there. You write and post and we will read and applaud even when we don't blog we are there. Do not judge the viewership by the bloggership. Thanks for this healing and celebratory series on one of the great experiences in sports history-The Smarty Jones experience was phenominal despite the lack of a fairy tale ending. Reminds of a more recent hero that we love also. Hmm, wouldn't that be a nice little get together.

22 Jun 2011 9:44 PM
robinm

Tear-jerker of an article Steve, as I'm sure Smarty's taking leave of Philly was a tear-jerker of a day.

I said it in one of your earlier installments and I'll say it again; Smarty Jones is the best horse to have failed in his Triple Crown bid. His loss wasn't due to lack of talent or heart.  He didn't lose to a better horse  (not even on the day) - he was "ganged up on" by jockeys with no regard to improving the position or chances of their horses, but simply to "beat Smarty".  And unfortunately, Stewart Elliott did not have enough experience on the Belmont track to realize the trap set for them.

No, Smarty is in a far different class than Funny Cide, Charasmatic and War Emblem.  Oh, what could have been; what should have been.

No, I don't watch the Belmont tape very often; it still breaks my heart.

22 Jun 2011 10:03 PM
summergames84

Yes, Steve, we are out here relishing your stories.  Thanks again.

P. S.  Saw that you took the photo at Churchill right after the tornado. Hope all are safe.

22 Jun 2011 10:09 PM
bellesforever

Steve..you will never believe who I ran into today? After this week of Smarty remembrance Stewart Elliott walked into my store with his family..I told him about your Smarty stories and he just was beaming..I hope he reads these wonderful memories you so eloquently put on paper..

22 Jun 2011 10:18 PM
Mike Relva

STEVE

Thanks,great read.

22 Jun 2011 10:42 PM
LiveLoveDream

You know, Smarty Jones was the first racehorse that I REALLY fell in love with. I was 14 when he was on the Triple Crown trail and I literally cried when he lost the Belmont, and for the longest time I had the biggest grudge against Birdstone. I couldn't watch the Belmont without feeling all the same emotions all over again. And oddly enough, I didn't fall in love with another racehorse until Zenyatta...but now that I'm older, while her second-place finish in the Classic DID make me feel sad/disappointed at the TIME, now I can rewatch her last race - and Smarty's - and feel really proud with how they did and what they accomplished. They're both phenomenal horses.

22 Jun 2011 11:08 PM
Apapane

Steve, please forgive me for not addressing your wonderful blog about Smarty Jones at this time. I am overwhelmed by the news of the tornado and want to reach out to the people of Churchill Downs, to let them know that they are in my prayers this evening. Bless you, each and everyone. Stay safe, be well, and thank you for taking care of the magnificent animals that bring us so much joy.

Aloha, Emily

23 Jun 2011 12:06 AM
Bellwether

"SMARTY" GAVE US ONE HELL OF A PARTY!!!...JUST BEAUTIFUL STEVE...ty...

23 Jun 2011 3:03 AM
A Horsey Canuck

Steve, you have outdone yourself this time..if that is possible. You "made" me watch the 2004 Preakness again. Two written comments you made stand out in my mind, "The appreciative fans....to take one final whiff of the rose, knowing it would never fully blossom." and "Whatever greatness he might have achieved will remain behind, like an unfinished manuscript filled with beautiful prose, never to be read." Jerry Izenberg once said of Secretariat, "I'm sorry, this horse was an athlete." Well, I'm sorry, but this guy, is a writer. Thanks again Steve, for bringing Smarty Jones out of the printed word into my world so far away. I'm just glad that I was able to stand just 10 feet away from Smarty, back in 2006. And yes, we are ALL out there, waiting for your next story.

23 Jun 2011 5:05 AM
Dawn in MN

Mr. Haskin, I am enjoying these chapters about Smarty Jones.  I was waiting for the last one to send a coomment.  When you said you'd be publishing  one-a-day for a week, did you mean a five-day work week (thank you unions), or a seven day week?

23 Jun 2011 6:02 AM
Linda in Texas

Once again Steve, your writing is sheer perfection sprinkled with

heart, compassion and appreciation for Smarty Jone's quest to be a Triple Crown Winner.  

His beautiful chestnut coloring is so deep and the up close head shot posted with your article was handsome with not a single blemish showing from his gate accident early in his life. A tribute no doubt to Dr. Hogan and the team who 'repaired' him.

Thanks again Steve,just know we are all out here reading your articles. Please realize that some of us are a little shy to post comments but then again some of us aren't. :)

Sincerely hope no man nor horse was lost or injured in The Churchill Down's Tornado.  

23 Jun 2011 9:49 AM
Tommy D

I have always thought that blaming Stuart Elliot for Smarty's Belmont loss was inappropriate.  He was on a horse that was undefeated and so dominant amongst his peers, having won both the Derby and Preakness with ease.  There was no way to know what his limitations were since they apparently hadn't gotten to the bottom of him.   Maybe Stuart thought Smarty was the next Secretartiat who got in a speed duel with Sham and prevailed.  Even if he rated, the outcome may have been the same.  Smarty was a great horse and gave us all a lot of wonderful memories.  I was luck enough to visit him a couple of times at TC during Derby week.  

23 Jun 2011 9:54 AM
bowlofflowers

I thought that Smarty was only going abroad for a season or two.  He is leaving the US forever?  Bummer that I never got to visit him in retirement.  Great article, as usual, Steve. Long may Smarty Live and prosper.  And come back to the US when he is pensioned.  I will still remember him whenever that time comes.

23 Jun 2011 10:55 AM
Ida Lee

Well I'm crying....

23 Jun 2011 10:58 AM
Lori M.

Yes, this was a tear-jerker, Steve.  I have never watched a single replay of Smarty's Belmont.  Durkin's last words of the race will ring in my ear every now and then, as my husband can mimic it perfectly:  Birdstone wins the Bel-Mont Stakes.  Smarty was my first racehorse.  I didn't know anything about racing til the Seabiscuit movie and Smarty Jones arriving right on its heels.  I remember my mom saying how dumbfounded she was that her daughter, never a sports or news fan, would run to the post box with a quarter every day to get the sports page to read word of Smarty.  I can recall talking w strangers on the street, lol - anyone who would listen (oh my unfortunate colleagues at work:) - about the phenom Thoroughbred.   And so, imagine my glorious feeling inside when my first racehorse (aside from Secretariat who I did know from when in college) won the KY Derby!  Omg that rainy day!  My nieces then covered the TV surround w drawings of him, and the family waited for the Preakness.  My love of Smarty was so infectious- everyone got on the wagon:)   When he broke the record for winning lengths then 2 weeks later I was mesmerized - who wasn't?  !!  Again, I just could not believe that the horse who brought me racing was about to win the Triple Crown!  When he was on the lead in the Belmont, it was so exciting, beyond wildest expectations - and then the Bird comes up at the wire - and like the rest of the racing nation, and the 38 other countries that followed Smarty and wrote him 5000 letters a week - I fell into a slump from which I did not emerge for months.   And then he retired and it hurt even more.  And the topper was when I heard Randy Moss one day on TV, discussing HoY, that of course Ghostzapper would win by a landslide - his exact words - I never did and never will forgive him for the smirk with which he flippantly said that.   What Smarty did for people, for racing is immeasurable.  There is a book written by a guy named Valentine I think - Smarty narrates - this little paperback brought back to me just how many records he set, the first horse to do this...and that...and this...so many things he did..even stopping the cavalcade of the US President can you believe it?   I've been hooked on racing ever since - you know how it gets in your blood:)

An important anecdote for horse lovers everywhere-  When in line at Three Chimneys to actually meet Smarty for the first time, of course I was bustin' out of my skin, and in talking with the ladies next to me I met the future founder of the rescue group I have belonged to since, Friends of Twilight, under the umbrella of Mid Atlantic Horse Rescue in MD, and to date the group has saved well over 100 from the Dark Side of racing.  Smarty saved those horses.  It was because of him that we bonded together and now have members in 18 states..

Smarty made PA racing what it is today, brought children and adults together to cheer and smile and love him, and let's all write to Parx and push them - to commemorate this brave horse with a bronze there of his own.  

I could talk about Smarty for the rest of the day, there is so much to say.  But for now I thank Steve Haskin, first for being the super swell fan of Smarty's that he was and is, and for writing this tribute blog to the horse that will forever be in my heart as the start of a lifetime of love of the Thoroughbred racehorse - the brilliance, the towering grace, the indescribable beauty -      thank you!

23 Jun 2011 11:12 AM
Fran Loszynski

An everyday story of these great champions is never overkill Steve. I have to tell you though I have to buy "another" scrapbook soon! This one is getting full of your lovely stories.  One note, God Bless everyone at Churchill Downs after the tornado and hope no horse or human was injured. May the twin spires fly high! Seeing Afleet Alex next week in Lexington, please God keep the tornadoes away !!!! Will hug Alex for you Steve. I hope the news reports from Churchill tomorrow are favorable please God keep our Kentucky Derby forevermore. Anyone know what horses may have been there?

23 Jun 2011 11:14 AM
Steve Haskin

Yes, our best wishes to everyone at Churchill Downs. Amazing that no people or horses were injured.

Dawn in Minn., I wasn't planning on it because they were reprinted in 2009, but I've decided to reprint the Derby and Belmont recaps again to complete the entire story. I am also going to include some smaller stories, so you've got another two or three days left.

Bellesforever, that is funny about Stewart Elliott.

Thanks, Canuck, and everyone else. I appreciate the kind words.

Tommy D., if you're going to blame anyone, blame the three jockeys who sacrificed their horses. Jerry Bailey was the most dependable and smartest rider I've ever seen. But I still can't understand his actions on Eddington, who might have won the race had he been ridden like Birdstone. But Bailey was intent on going after Smarty, even though he was already being pushed by Purge and Rock Hard Ten. It was the pressure he put on him that forced Elliott to get Smarty out of there and put him on the lead to help him try to relax. They ran that quarter in an unreal :22 4/5, which killed off the three other horses, but Smarty kept going. For those who cant watch the Belmont, you might get a new appreciation of Smarty's greatness reading the Belmont recap.

Bowl of Flowers, Smarty is shuttling there, meaning he'll go there each year for 6 months and then return to Pa. Remember, their winter is our summer, so their breeding season is actually about to begin, while ours is just about over.

23 Jun 2011 11:38 AM
Linda in Texas

This if off subject kind of, but

Steve,for the latest news on the damage done to Churchill Downs i went to Louisville Courier.com.

Information on the status of the 9 barns that were hit, the 1,500 workers who were domiciled there to care for the 150 to 200 horses that were present is a miracle no one lost a life. To me it was interesting to note that in the 137 years of Churchill Downs, this was the first time it had ever been on the radar screen.

In fact, the tornado warning had expired by the time it hit Churchill Downs. That is disturbing as an ex weather bureau employee. Warnings should have been ongoing, maybe they were?

I had no idea 1,500 people lived on the grounds of Churchill Downs.

Perhaps it was Mrs. Whitney in her acceptance speech who made mention of the wonderful people who live on the tracks and care for the horses.

Special thoughts and thanks go out to all of them.

And hay stored in the lofts saved the roofs from caving in on the people and the horses. I will now look at a bale of hay in a whole different way and with a lot more respect.

Smarty Jones i hope won't mind if i digressed on his special blog.

23 Jun 2011 11:50 AM
Candysrider

I'm a little confused.  I'm sure that I remember a picture of Smarty being exercised under tack at the farm that appeared in an issue of Bloodhorse.  It was at dawn and was a silhouette of him and his rider.  But, you say that there was severe damage.  Am I wrong?

23 Jun 2011 12:26 PM
Karen in Texas

For everyone with concerns about Smarty's travelling/shuttling plans---he may have an extra guardian on board. Esther Marr did a BH story last fall that told of his having a St. Christopher's medal on his halter when he arrived at Three Chimneys. The stallion manager there made sure he had the medal with him when he left to return to Pennsylvania. Hopefully his symbol of the patron saint of travellers will go with him as he continues his journey to the south.

23 Jun 2011 1:19 PM
Delrene

Dear Steve - I'm looking at my Smarty Jones sun visor as I write this little note to you and to all the lovely comments written by others.  Smarty is a great horse that is being so eloquently spoken about in your articles.  I too watched in shock when Edgar and Birdstone caught him at the wire.  I was also in shock to hear booing in the stands and the lovely owner of Birdstone and trainer basically apologized for beating the Triple Crown hopeful.  Edgar Prado I remember kept saying he was sorry.  But Birdstone was the best runner "ON THAT DAY".  Smarty was really not defeated.  It only proved his unbelievable heart and the stamina required for a grueling three big races in the series.  Birdstone and Smarty have made some beautiful babies too, so their bloodlines continue to capture the heart and excitement of thoroughbred racing.  I will re watch the Belmont video to re examine what you said about the jockeys making the effort to beat Smarty and Stewart.  Nothing to be ashamed of, a great Triple Crown season.  I have looked forward to this tribute and re capitulation of Smarty's career.  The best of health in South America and we look forward to his return.  Take care of him.  We love him so much.

Glad everyone 2 & 4 footed ok in Ky.  Mother Nature can sure be a beast.

23 Jun 2011 2:02 PM
Slew

My thoughts and prayers are with the displaced workers and animals at Churchill Downs.  The terror of a tornado is unlike any other weather phenomenon....so quick and sooo devastating.  

Steve, your articles are always priceless, your words..poetry.  I do think, however, that Smarty's shuttle is of little benefit to him.  He'll spend Winter in Uruguay, then Winter in Penna.  You would think, at some time, the guy deserves a better break than that.  Pa. winters are bad enough by themselves, but the summer can be delightful...and he won't be here for that good part of the year.

(It is said there are 4 seasons in Pennsylvania...almost Winter, Winter, still Winter and construction.)

Linda: Apparently that tornado had just developed over the backside, and had little time for a preamble.

23 Jun 2011 2:28 PM
Pat C.

Steve,

Thanks again for all the wonderful words about Smarty.  No one hurts more than I do about his early retirement and the fact that we will never know just how good he really was.  Your articles go a long way toward taking some of the sting out.  I'm going to see him tomorrow and have a quiet visit with him.  I shall thank him, one more time, for all that he did for so many of us.

23 Jun 2011 2:35 PM
HowieinJersey

Thanks so much Steve. As always, your writing is great, but this series is especially heartfelt for me.  Smarty brought me back to racing.  I was so devastated watching Ruffian's breakdown I didn't watch another race for more than 10 years. I started watching casually again in mid the 90's.  In early '04, I read this incredible story of not just Smarty, but his connections. From the gate accident and eye injury to the murder of the original trainer and his wife, to selling all the horses except for Smarty and one other. How could you not root for them? I rooted for him through all the preps till the end. The Belmont was torture but I took solace in seeing the heart he showed that day. I was so hooked I have been to 3C to see him, and follow everyone of his foals. I travel to watch many of them race and have quite a collection of photos of Smarty and his kids.

For those worried he has gone to Uruguay for good, don't.  He will be back in December.  For those blaming Stewie for the Belmont, don't. If you can bear to watch the race again, look at the 1st 3 furlongs. Smarty was a monster that day, full of run, and Stew fought him as hard as he could to rate him. He had to let him go. You can't fight the horse the entire race. For those saying he's a dud at stud, he's had some good horses and some bad luck. Go Smarty Go nearly set a track record at Belmont for 7F on turf in his 1st and only race. Be Smart was a very good filly and is currently in foal. Rogue Romance may have had a chance this year, and still could be a very good horse. He's supposed to be back in serious training by the end of July.

Thanks again Steve for all your great work, and the behind the scenes things I wouldn't have known about.  It's great to see that so many were and still are affected by the great Smarty Jones.

23 Jun 2011 2:39 PM
Cris

Smarty's departure was depressing. I remember he was completely booked his first and second year in just a few months. I am a little conflicted as to how I feel about his move to SA. He is not a big horse and a year round stallion season for him could not be in his best interest. I wish him well and hope for the best for him and not be surprised if it turns out differently.

23 Jun 2011 3:57 PM
Steve Haskin

It's great to see everyone sharing their Smarty remembrances. Your comments are much appreciated.

Candysrider, I was going by what Robert Clay told me a few years ago. Perhaps they tried riding him for a while and decided not to take a chance on making it worse. I know that he said the injury was much more severe than people thought. That's all I know about it.

Pat C, have a great visit tomorrow.

Howie, great post and thanks for sharing.

23 Jun 2011 4:19 PM
Abigail Anderson

Steve: I just have loved this "series" on Smarty and I agree with the others who said they thought it important to do retrospectives of horses we loved every so often. I have to say that I just respected this little horse SO much....it was as though he made those abstractions of courage & heart tangible for me. I also loved the photos of him pulling his exercise rider around the track. I'd look at these and think "he's obviously quite a character," just as was his ancestor, Northern Dancer. In fact, he reminded me of the Dancer in lots of ways, although Smarty was clearly a much nicer fellow to be around! I also think that he was one of the recent thoroughbred champions to lure me back to racing and the sheer excitement of the track.

I've got to add that I remain annoyed that Smarty was given such short shrift as a stallion in Kentucky. I assume it was his apparent inability to make owners a quick buck Storm Cat style that did it.

But I thank you for helping me relive Smarty's racing campaign, Steve. You have such a beautiful writing style -- it's special the way you can put a reader right into the story!

23 Jun 2011 6:53 PM
doctorfager

Just want to say that I wont be reading the article on Smarty's Belmont defeat to Birdstone. I dont want to relive that day again. When Birdstone went by Smarty to win by a length, it was the worst day of my life. I can't describe in words how devestated, and depressed I was. Why didn't they just let him win it; afterall, he was the best horse in the race. Smarty Jones will always be remembered as a great thoroughbred champion.

23 Jun 2011 11:12 PM
Barbaro8cee

I've been a racing fan since I was a young girl. I did a book report in the 4th Grade on Man O' War. I try to keep up with what goes on by watching the races, going to our local track, reading Blood-Horse Magazine, The Daily Racing Form, etc. I'm no expert by any means, but I watched Smarty run all three races & he was by FAR the BEST horse out there & should have won the Triple Crown! He surely did not come up short in the Belmont by any fault on his part. @ Dr Drunkinbum - I agree with you 110%!!! This information about his injury/injuries(?) that may go back to when he was a 2 yr. old doesn't surprise me @ all! Smarty, you should go down in history with all the other great horses & thanks for ride!! Hats off to Dr. Larry Bramlage for starting the controversy so Smarty could retire without having a tragedy on the track!!! I know a lot of people are sad to see him go, but I personally would rather see him retire & be able to live out his life instead having his life cut tooooo short like Barbaro, Eight Belles, & many others I could mention or may not even know about. I'm glad the racing industry is looking into changing a lot of things regarding the well-being of the horse; especially the on-going debate about race day drugs. I love to watch them race, but not if there is some underlying injury. My motto is THE HORSE COMES FIRST!

FANTASTIC article Mr. Haskin!! I always enjoy reading anything you write! As for you Smarty, you are one of the greatest & hope you enjoy just being a horse!

24 Jun 2011 8:53 AM
Sue MacGray

I posted on another Smarty story Steve, that I was among the thousands (millions :) who was shocked and heartbroken when Birdstone beat Smarty in the Belmont. Now, after reading all of your stories and the thoughts of everyone else, I hope that the next time Smarty comes home, someone finds a way to keep him here and in comfort. Such a gallant, wonderful race horse deserves nothing less. This is when the fact that "racing is a business" can be unsettling and disturbing. I wish we could somehow ensure that they are ALL treated with kindness and respect when their racing days are over.

24 Jun 2011 9:04 AM
Steve Haskin

Doctorfager, I understand how you feel, but let me say that the Belmont recap, which will appear this evening as the finale, has a lot of fresh material added, as does the Derby story, and I feel this story is as much a tribute to Smarty and what he meant to people, and what Smarty Mania was all about, as it is a recap of the Belmont. In many ways it shows the greatness of Smarty as much as any of the other stories.

24 Jun 2011 9:19 AM
nephilly

I was at Philly Park from the day that Smarty won his first race.  You have captured all of the sentiments so well Steve.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Philly Park is a special place.  A place where people are family.  The city as a whole realized this during Smarty's campaign.  Your words are truly inspiring.  

03 Jul 2011 6:16 PM

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