Our Fondest Memories of Horses and Racing

December 25, 2022

Card design by Maribeth Kalinich. Photo by Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire

Christmas Greetings from the Team at Past The Wire

This year a few of us have recalled moments that have inspired our love of horses and horse racing to share with all of you. I hope you enjoy our stories. Have a wonderful holiday and good health and good fortune in the new year.

The Time I Met a King

Amy Euler with American Pharoah.

By Amy Euler @EulerAmy 

The summer of 2015 was one to remember, American Pharoah had just broken the 37-year Triple Crown drought and University of Arizona Alumni Bob Baffert had finally reached horse racing immortality! As a new student in the Race Track Industry Program, I couldn’t have been more excited to get in the “starting gate” of this career path. 

That July, my parents surprised me by telling me we were going to Del Mar and had arranged for me to meet up with the legendary trainer through Bob’s brother Bill Baffert. They met us at our hotel, took us to the front, and walked us to the grandstand to watch horses doing morning workouts. As we were walking closer to the track, I immediately saw the iconic ghost white hair that Baffert is known to style. His brother said hello and introduced me. Wow, talk about being star-struck! This was beyond anything I could imagine…. how could it get better? 

Well, it did! We finished up morning workouts and headed back to the barns, specifically Baffert’s barn. So many cool horses, Cat Burglar, Hoppertunity, Toews on Ice, Aloha Rocket, Dortmund (a personal favorite of mine) and of course the big man himself; American Pharoah! There is something special about that horse, not to state the obvious, but his whole demeanor is different. He is the sweetest boy, and I was lucky enough to feed him carrots! Even my mom gave him a quick pet on the forehead, which is a big deal because she’s not an animal person. 

Later that day attending live racing at Del Mar and was even given permission to sit in Baffert’s back, right by the Winner’s Circle, due to him very unusually not having horse entered that day. I felt so important, I felt like I was meant to be in the industry, to promote the sport and be a trail blazer for women in the industry. Although it hasn’t gone exactly as planned, I am grateful for all the opportunities and people I’ve met along the way. Cheers to crossing the finish line of 2022! 

A Saintly Visit to the Gulfstream Backstretch

Ashley with Saint of Saints.

By Ashley Tamulonis @Florida_Filly

“It would be easy to pick a huge moment I witnessed or a farm and the famous horses there that I was able to see, but instead I’d like to revisit the backside of Gulfstream Park in the Spring of 2012. I was newly pregnant with my second son, and I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Dale Romans’s string. Preakness winner Shackleford was the stable star and known for his feisty temperament, but with me, he was ever so gentle, like he knew I was expecting. Of course, he did demand that I keep the peppermints coming! 

Eventual dual grade one winner Dullahan was also on the row, but it’s a horse that no one but me likely remembers that made the day truly special. Saint of Saints and I instantly bonded. He didn’t care about the peppermints. He simply put his head in my arms and soaked up all the love I gave him. He never made it to the big time, but I didn’t care. He became my heart horse and made that day truly unforgettable.” 

Release the Hounds! 

Bloodstock Expert Kerry Thomas

By Kerry Thomas @thomasherding

My first impactful memory of horses was as a child my grandfather would pile us kids into his truck and we would go chasing the hounds during local Fox Hunts. I was mesmerized by the scene, thick with awe inspiring chaos. The hounds singing out their song, echoing through the valley, the piercing of the horn cutting through my senses. 

First hearing then seeing ghostly images of horses moving through the fog erupting like a bursting volcano a myriad of emotional senses within me. I remember thinking it was like a moving painting or a scene from the civil war. The magic of the human horse relationship etched a script into my mind that is still playing itself out.

The Big Book of Horses and One Little Girl

By Maribeth Kalinich @52ShadesOfHay

My first memory of seeing a horse was the Big Book of Horses. I was enchanted with the beautiful green book and gorgeous color images of the horses. My first encounter with horse racing was on television watching the Triple Crown races, in particular the Preakness, with my family. The Triple Crown races were the only televised at that time.

But there was one show that broadcast racing once a week. Wide World of Sports.

Every Saturday I would be glued to the TV as Jim McKay recounted that week’s highlights in sports anxiously awaiting his segment on horse racing. It lasted little more than five minutes, but it whetted my appetite to read all I could about horses and horse racing until the next episode of Wide World of Sports.

Knowing of my growing passion for the sport, my uncles and great uncles told m stories of their experiences at the racetrack, and I dreamed of someday leaning over the rail almost able to touch the horses. My Great Uncle Edmund would say if I cleaned his apartment, he would take me to Pimlico. And my mother would say “You are not!” Mom said Uncle Edmund liked to play the ponies a little too much.

Growing up we received horse and racing books and games, went to Pimlico and Sagamore Farm, even met the great Native Dancer—from afar as he was a bit of an opinionated stallion. 

Eventually, and inevitably, I ended up riding at a very low level and mucking stalls. But to me it was the best ever.

Maribeth Kalinich having a day at the races at Laurel Park.

I became a railbird in college skipping classes (I won’t tell if you don’t ;-)) to catch a few races. The track is the only place I will go alone as I never feel like a stranger and I always feel welcome. I usually leave the day with a new friend or two.

Horse people are just the best. And the horses we love give back so much more than we give to them. I shall be ever grateful to have had many of these amazing animals inspiring my life.  

To read about the authors click here.

Contributing Authors

Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

Maribeth Kalinich grew up in a family with a love for horses, a passion for Thoroughbred horse racing and a taste for playing the ponies....

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