By: Erin Shea, @BH_EShea
The hammer fell at $450,000 for the son of Indian Charlie, with Eoin Harty bringing the final bid at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale. Bred by Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Barnes Racing out of the stakes-placed Mr. Prospector mare Beaucette, he was pinhooked to that sale after being purchased for $200,000 as a weanling at the previous year's Fasig-Tipton November sale.
With a solid purchase price and now in the care of one of the largest operations in the world with Darley, it seemed that the youngster, named Regiment, had a bright future ahead on the racetrack. But it wasn't on the racetrack where he began to shine.
After two mediocre starts in maiden races, his best finish a well-beaten third, the runner strained a suspensory in his left front leg, and his connections decided to turn him over to the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center at the Kentucky Horse Park to help him find a new home and career. His athletic physical caught the eye of McKenzie Dey, who was scrolling through the MMSC horses listed online in late 2014.
"They had a bunch of really nice looking prospects," the North Carolina-based trainer said. "And then I saw Reggie and I said, 'Oh, that one.'"
But on the drive to Kentucky to look at the potential new mount, Dey was reading through MMSC blog posts about 'Reggie' and his old suspensory injury.
"On the drive we did some more digging and we found the blog about Reggie. We were about to enter West Virginia, and my sister was reading the blog and she read the part about him having a suspensory (injury) and I was destroyed,' Dey said. "I was like, 'You have got to be kidding me, I'm on my way to Kentucky for this horse.' Hearing 'suspensory' is scary no matter what. I was so gung-ho, but it totally took the wind out of my sails."
Not wanting to chalk it up as a loss just yet, Dey continued to MMSC. She tried a few other horses there, but nothing seemed to connect with her. She told herself she wasn't going to try Regiment, because she knew if she did she'd fall for him hard.
"I knew if I liked him that I'd say 'Screw it' and buy him," she said. "Well, guess what? I rode him and I rode a bunch of others. ...I liked them all but I just kept going back to 'Reggie.'"
The strikes against Regiment were piling up for Dey. In addition to his former suspensory injury, she learned about his tendency to throw shoes and his herpes condition. Although all were manageable with patience and care, Dey still wasn't convinced and needed some kind of sign that he was the right horse was for her.
"I kept looking for signs and finally I talked to my grandmother one morning and she said, 'You've just got to buy him,'" she said. "So I called Susanna and it was a deal."
Now, more than two years after she took him home, the duo is competing in the preliminary level of eventing and Dey is looking to move him up to the intermediate level soon. She is quick to credit her talented mount and her coach, Bobby Costello, a top-level eventer and former Olympian.
McKenzie Dey and Regiment. Photo courtesy of McKenzie Dey
"I've developed him super carefully, but the horse is just a natural," she said. "I saw the way he carried himself and the look in his eye. He tried everything I asked, his balance and that natural lead change he had—I was just like, 'I guess I'm going to have to start competing again.'
"At this rate, within a year of real competing, he's already done a (CCI) one star. I'm hoping next year to do a (CCI) two star, and honestly I'd like to look at qualifying for Rolex (Kentucky Three-Day Event)."
Dey is thankful for the horse who got her back in full swing into the sport of eventing. Before 'Reggie,' she took a hiatus on competing and wasn't sure about her future in the sport. But 'Reggie' changed all that. Now, she's giving lessons, training, and working on building her own training farm and business.
"The only reason I'm still doing this and I'm still here right now is because of this horse," she said. "If I didn't have 'Reggie,' it wouldn't be the same. It's about the journey for me and not the business aspect. It's my fairytale and I feel so lucky to have fallen into this situation."