It has been a monumental week for us at ATBR which is what prompted me to write a bit lengthier piece than our facebook status will allow. Anyone who knows me knows how … well … verbose I can be when I am passionate about something. With the exception of my family, I have no greater passion than ATBR. It has become one of the reasons I wake up at 3am reaching for my blackberry to send myself ideas for fundraising or marketing. Many times, I send my thoughts to Erin in the middle of the night … and she responds in real time! What is wrong with the two of us, me a wife and mother of 2 with a full time job running my own company and Erin, a mother of three and a full time job caring for every single one of the 150+ rescue horses on the farm, plus managing her staff and everything else that goes along with running ATBR. Why are we not sleeping like the dead from the moment our heads hit the pillow to the time our alarms go off in the early morning. Truth be told, ATBR is all-consuming, so the best we can hope for is a few solid hours before we are awaken with thoughts of the mare that sliced her eye open; the adoption that fell through; or the hundreds of thousands of dollars it will cost for a much needed indoor ring for retraining.
Well, this week we have been emailing in the middle of the night charged by sheer adrenalin alone. This is a very tough and emotionally draining business but every once in a while we are invigorated by some good press, a generous donation or a visit from someone who just wants to share some love with our horses. This week we hit the proverbial jackpot. It was Christmas, birthday and winning scratch-off all in one! Where to begin? I guess today’s entry should be to report about our latest visitor, the great jockey Richard Migliore.
You’ve read the story by now, it all started with a horse. Thanks to the efforts of Richard Migliore, Teresa Genaro and Esther Marr, the plight of multiple stakes winner & earner of almost 800K, Hotstufanthensome was given national attention. Thankfully Hotstuf found his way to New Vocations but they have been unable to find a home for this regal gelding given his physical restrictions. We agreed to take Hotstuf from New Vocations, who in turn will take one of ours. Erin and Anna Ford have worked together before, exchanging horses. We send Anna (who does a wonderful job finding second careers for the sound OTTB’s) adoptable horses and in return we take more special needs ones that may not find another home off of the Akindale property. We are thrilled to have Hotstuf spend his retirement with us (and his former track rival, Evening Attire) at ATBR. Esther, Teresa & Richard’s blogs have brought great awareness to the cause, to this horse and to our operation, for which we are eternally grateful. This is a true rescue and we believe one that would make our founder John Hettinger very proud.
So I received a text from Erin while I was in the grocery store today, which actually prompted me to shriek aloud. Our texts read as follows: E- “guess who is coming today???” S – “who?” E- “Richard Migiore!!!!!!!!!!” S- “no F’g way!!!!!!!!” The texts continued but I’m opting just to share the most eloquent with you. I had been waxing on about Richard “The Mig” Migliore for months, wanting to get him to the farm, writing him (kinda begging) and planning my next communication. Our association through Hotstuf, I felt, would surely be the tie I was looking for to familiarize him with our rescue. So when I received Erin’s text, I was shocked (as I apparently had nothing to do with Richard’s decision to visit) and elated … then it hit me … The Mig would be at ATBR this morning … and I wouldn’t. What are the odds? So being the great friend that Erin is, she logged 11 calls (to date but I suspect more before the end of today) to keep me updated on what was going on during his visit. In the 5 years we have been in operation, I’m not sure I have ever heard Erin so jubilant. Still reeling from our “chick day” with Barabara Livingston and Sue Rosenbach yesterday, Richard’s visit made Erin down right giddy. He was everything we dreamed he would be. Imagine, a famous jockey, coming to our farm and getting emotional over our horses. Like our photo queens yesterday, he drudged through the snow and cold to see all of our residents, not just the famous ones. He was (and I lived it vicariously through Erin so I can speak as though I witnessed it first hand), generous with his time and genuinely happy to be reunited with some of his old mounts. I should mention that it was Richard that rode Kate Ferron’s first winner as John Hettinger’s trainer, My Mythical Rose … how ironic. Oh and selfishly I have to mention that it was Richard that rode my new equine boyfriend, Greeley’s Legacy, in the 2006 Preakness. I stalked Greeley for three years and dragged Erin through the backstretch barns at Saratoga in search of his latest trainer Charlton Baker to insist that he come to live at ATBR. Charlton was a great guy and stood by his word, calling us this fall with MY good news -- Greeley would be arriving in November. I felt so accomplished … and it can’t go without saying that Erin was a saint. There are so many unwanted TB’s on and off the track and we have to turn many away. And although we are far past capacity and even farther over budget, she never once got angry or even preached that we can’t be out there stalking trainers and owners for horses as though we don’t have enough. I am eternally grateful to Erin, for so many reasons, but one of which is that she allows me my equine obsessions and never makes me turn away from one. But I digress (which as author of this piece I am allowed to do when it highlights my equine crushes). So, when Erin told me that Richard was emotional upon meeting up with Greeley, I, of course, couldn’t help but well up. What a guy … crazy for MY Greeley (who needs sponsorship by the way) and we have this connection … this gorgeous, bay, 8 year old connection that we plucked from the claiming ranks. Total satisfaction!
The next call was to recount how Erin told Richard that Akindale's Broodmare Manager, Karen, really wanted to see him but was in the field working. Don’t you know that he dragged himself through the knee-deep snow to go out in the middle of the mare field and see her? Again, I say, what a guy! Then there was the reunion with Irish Actress, one of our old NY champion retirees. As I understand it, this was quite a moment for Richard. So much so that Erin gave him her halter, which he graciously accepted. Irish, one of my personal favorites, is a 1987 stakes winner of almost $600K. She is shy and sweet and loves human attention. Apparently she got plenty of it from her old friend The Mig. So to all of you who wonder what the famous Richard Migliore is like “in real life”, we can tell you, by every account, he is a super star!
Wow, what a week and it’s not over yet. Call #12 just came in from an emotional Erin. She just spoke with the shipper and Hotstuf will be arriving on Sunday. They say everything comes full circle -- it sure has in this case. We are so blessed to have had Richard Migliore show up at our farm, asking to help, giving generously of his time, his spirit and his heart. Richard, on behalf of ATBR and all of our horses, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and anxiously await your next visit (preferably when I am present).