Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Retirement of Smokey Stover to Old Friends and what The Second Race is all About

On Sunday evening, I received the news I had been waiting to hear, Smokey Stover had safely arrived at Old Friends. The story of Smokey Stover's retirement to Old Friends is one that exemplifies what networking,and The Second Race is all about.

The events leading to his arrival at Old Friends began approximately two weeks prior when I was alerted late at night of a posting on the CANTER California website that Smokey Stover was listed on their website for sale at $ 600.00. I was surprised and thought that someone had made a mistake. I went to the site and sure enough the description was there. He had been listed on the site on 9/4/09 and the contact information was that of his former trainer. There wasn't a picture of the glorious black gelding, but I knew it was in fact the former Breeder Cup winner that was for sale. I just couldn't stand the thought of this horse going to someone that didn't know who he was, or that he could not have the retirement he deserved. He was a bit arthritic, so what would his future career be? The listing said he loaded well, stands when shod etc, but not much more about what he could or couldn't do. I at that moment made it my mission to do what The Second Race does, and that is Network for Results.

The following Facebook post by Vivien Morrison describes in some detail what transpired and his arrival at Old Friends. Vivien is a volunteer for Old Friends and keeps the thousands of followers up-to-date on the activities of the equine athletes that reside there.

Smokey arrived safely at Old Friends Sunday, just before nightfall. Before leaving the Golden state, he received excellent care in the barn of trainer Greg Gilcrest, but now retired from the racetrack, it became apparent that Smokey was looking for a forever home. For a time, it appeared he might go to an adopted home through CANTER, and equine advocates, including the FOBs began to raise funds on his behalf...however, Sharla Sanders, of The Second Race spotted his adoption listing and with a great appreciation of his contributions to the racing world, she went into action, contacting his connections and referring them to Old Friends. Sharla's efforts were rewarded as Michael Blowen was very happy to see this lovely fellow home and so with Ms. Sanders continued assistance, transportation was arranged and with the aide of Mr. Gilcrest he was on his way to the Bluegrass!...... Best known to some as the stablemate of the star crossed Lost in the Fog, he was owned by the late Harry Aleo and trained by Greg Gilcrest. Bred in Florida, by Put it Back, out of the Jolie's Halo mare Milady's Halo, Smokey Stover was a successful stakes winner during his three and four year old campaigns, started 14 times and only finished off the board once..... He ended his career with over $ 750,000 in earnings and 8 victories. His most high profile victory perhaps was in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita. He also captured the G2 Potrero BC H and the G3 Bay Meadows BC H. Sprint. The best part of the Smokey Stover story is that his connections were willing to put the horse first and his arrival at Old Friends is a true testament to the appreciation and respect true racing supporters like Sharla Sanders have for these outstanding athletes...Smokey brought joy to his followers in California and her primary aim was to find him a forever home in which he could be admired by his many fans and given the dignity and respect deserving of such a fine champion. We are honored to have this beautiful...and tall...fellow in our Old Friends family.
I want to extend my thanks to Greg Gilchrist, the family of Harry Aleo, Diane Repp for alerting me to Smokey Stover's posting on CANTER, Michael Blowen, KC Transport, Irish Rose Farm in Bradbury for allowing me to visit Smokey before he continued on his journey to Kentucky and for the 100's of racing fans that cared about him when discovered he was available to a new home. The networking that took place in literally hours, shows what can be done when racing fans, organizations, and people work together for a common good. Best wishes to Smokey and enjoy your retirement you handsome boy....until next time.....

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