I was getting ready to write this blog when, eight days ago, we got word of the horrific fires in California. Many of you have seen the videos from the fires at San Luis Rey Training Center. If you have not, you may choose not to watch, because it is very difficult to see.
Some trainers, like Doug O’Neill, were lucky not to lose any horses in the fires. But there were many tense hours between about 7 PM California time and into the next day when they were desperately moving horses from the training center and while horses set loose from their stalls (to avoid burning there) were rounded up and accounted for, or not.
We enjoyed a very special Thanksgiving Dinner this year…. shared, as Glenn Sorgenstein said, “with family, friends, and horses in the new yearling barn at Wilshire/Rosecrest Farm.” One of those horses was multiple stakes winner and graded stakes-placed 3-year-old filly SHANE’S GIRLFRIEND. She was finishing up a three month break from the track at Wilshire / Rosecrest Farm and went back to California right after the festivities.
She was one of the O’Neill horses we initially thought at San Luis Rey. Turns out she was at Santa Anita. That agony of not knowing was repeated times hundreds of horses and their connections and hundreds of grooms, hotwalkers and trainers and their connections.
Some humans not only lost horses but were victims of burns themselves trying to save horses. Others witnessed events and must now deal with horrific visions that don’t go away. Many horses are now on nebulizers to try to reverse the effects of smoke inhalation, and you have to think about their mental state. Our prayers continue for all those affected by these fires.
That was a bit of unwelcome excitement during what it otherwise a quietly transitional time of year. Lots of changes going on, but very little drama. The weanlings are growing and maturing and really looking like yearlings – which they will officially be in less than a month. The pregnant mares are starting to “show” and would prefer I not post those “wide load” shots this year that I did last year. (Not sure how they are viewing social media tho!)
Retired fillies and mares are arriving from the racetrack, which sometimes feels like a homecoming and sometimes means making new friends. RAMONA’S WILDCAT raced for WC Racing, and we’ve enjoyed watching her exploits so it feels like she’s part of the family already. She is a stakes winner of $243,500 and has six stakes placings. Born to be Winner (Grade 3 stakes-placed) and Watch Me Now also arrived from Doug O’Neill’s barn.
This is a big change for these girls and it sometimes takes awhile for them to adapt to farm life after being at the track – where their job is to race and workout everyday. Now their job is to relax, put on a little more weight so their bodies can start to cycle and we can breed them. This can sometimes take three months… sometimes six months. As you’ll hear me say over and over from January through May — you can’t rush Mother Nature.