Friday, December 29, 2017

Best Horse Stories of 2017

Horse Country Chic readers are not all horse owners or even horse riders, but I believe that my readers all love reading about horses.  While many posts through the years have a "horsey theme" many do not. So let's end the year with a story about the real horses out there.  Here are some that made the headlines in 2017:

1) Songbird
I just love this mare and if you don't know who she is, she's something very special.  Many who follow race horses know that this lovely mare sold in November for a staggering $9.5 million. Yes, million.  She's a champion race horse, who lost only two races in her career - nine Grade 1 wins, 13 victories in 15 starts, earning $4.6 million.  She was still winning in 2017 but not by the incredible margins that she once did, and her trainer, jockey and owner, knew something wasn't quite right and they did the right thing.  After being sent to Kentucky for a total physical, the vets found all kinds of things wrong with her and she was sadly retired.  Luckily, she was not allowed to break down but she'll have a lovely caring home for the rest of her days.  She was purchased to be a brood mare and the plan is to breed her to the infamous Arrogate in 2018.  The world will be waiting for this baby to arrive.

 (Blood Horse Photo)

2) HH Azur
HH Azur will likely be remembered for giving McLain Ward his elusive win at the FEI World Cup in 2017, a feat that Sapphire could not pull off.  But this amazing horse has had an incredible career so far and she's not done yet.  She's only 11 years old and "Annie" (her barn name) has lots of gold medals in her future.  She's partially owned by the late Hunter Harrison (who died unexpectedly very recently).  McLain first sat on her when she was only 5 and got the ride on her at 8.  They have lots left to prove.

(Chronicle of the Horse photo)

3) Gun Runner
Early in the year it was all about Arrogate, but after coming in second to Arrogate in Dubai in April, Gun Runner never lost a race, pulling off win after win in stunning fashion including the Breeder's Cup Classic in November.  He'll end his career in January at the Pegasus World Cup, a race he missed last year due to being in quarantine and he'll go to stud at a fee of $70,000.  He has 11 wins in 18 starts, five Grade 1 wins.  He's won almost $9 million and he's likely to be named Horse of the Year in January. 

(Blood Horse photo)

4) Arrogate
Arrogate must be distantly related to my Alfie.  This talented horse became a real head case that even Bob Baffert could not solve.  After winning the Dubai World Cup in staggering fashion - he literally almost fell down coming out of the starting gate, was in last place the entire race and then somehow, out of nowhere, he found a 10th gear and won the race. It was the most amazing race I have ever seen.  I don't think anyone would doubt, that after that race, he was probably the second best horse of all time, behind Secretariat.  Please find it on the Internet and watch it.  He won four races in a row, in breathtaking fashion but after Dubai he never won again.   Arrogate certainly gave us all something to watch early in 2017.  He's going to stud in Kentucky in 2018.  Let's see if he can replicate that brilliance in his offspring. 

(Wikipedia photo)
5) Verdades
While I don't typically follow dressage, it was hard not to know about the stellar pair - Laura Graves and Verdades - who brought all kinds of accolades to a discipline generally dominated by the Europeans.  The pair won the silver medal at the World Cup Dressage Final in Omaha and then traveled to Europe where they won the FEI Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle at CHIO Rotterdam, peaking at number two in the world in 2017. 

(Dressage Photo)

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