Stonestreet: Rachel Alexandra Will Not Be Bred in 2014

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Rachel Alexandra Rachel Alexandra

According to Stonestreet Farm, 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra will not be bred in 2014, following a serious post-foaling medical scare in 2013.

A spokesman for the farm said there is no timetable for a decision about whether the 8-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro will be bred in the future. She is said to be healthy and enjoying retired life with her herdmates.

Rachel Alexandra was hospitalized in Feb. 2013 after delivering a healthy Bernardini filly. During exploratory abdominal surgery at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, veterinarians discovered a section of small colon which had lost its blood supply, allowing a serious bacterial infection to take hold internally. The champion race mare spent five weeks in the hospital, during which time she underwent a second surgery for an abscess in her reproductive tract.

Some race fans and animal activists expressed concern about Rachel’s future as a broodmare, given that her medical struggles in 2013 were not her first. The mare also spent a few days at Rood and Riddle following the delivery of her 2012 Curlin colt for pain management.

Rachel Alexandra was retired in 2010 following a career that included 13 victories and over $3 million in earnings. In her time on the track, she accumulated wins in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward Stakes. In addition to her Horse of the Year title, she was voted Champion Three-Year-Old Filly for 2009.

Her 2012 colt, registered as Jess’s Dream, is in training at Stonestreet’s Florida training facility.

Samantha Nicole, 3-year-old full sister to Rachel Alexandra, is set to make her first start on Feb. 16 in a maiden special weight contest at the Fair Grounds.

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  • Beach

    It’s a bummer, but IMHO, better safe than sorry. Just like humans, too, unfortunately–childbearing works great and just fine for some, but not for others–and for unexplained reasons. I’d rather she was around for a long, long time–always thought she had the prettiest face!! Love to her and her family. :)

    • Jef

      Maybe we can test tube her and Cigar.

      • Lmaris

        Cigar shot blanks.

        • M. A. Thrope

          That’s why he said it.

      • Beach

        DUH… :)

    • Mimi Hunter

      I wonder if they test horses for gestational diabetes – both her foals were pretty large.

      • Beach

        Disclaimer: This will probably be preaching to the choir. Even if so, are they test results you can do anything about? Of course with people, the woman is carefully monitored, the health care types have to pray she’s compliant and/or the disease responds. Many women are C-sectioned before the baby gets too large–but wow, that is such a rigmarole in a horse…

        • Mimi H

          I sure wouldn’t want to breed Rachel Alexandra again – it called tempting fate. But I’ve been hearing about a lot of large foals. Maybe if the blood sugar could be monitored and controlled with insulin – if there is such a thing – foals may come down a little in weight. Really just thinking out loud – she may have had fewer problems if her foals were in the 125# range. I don’t think horses do too well with C-Sections.

          • RayPaulick

            I’m sure Stonestreet uses actual veterinary professionals with many years of experience. So I’m not sure I understand why you insist on playing doctor without a degree.

          • Beach

            I’m not seeing “insisting”, I’m seeing “maybe”, “thinking out loud” and some questions from, as far as I know it, a longtime horsewoman with a nursing degree–and in general, too; not just specifically about Rachel. This is a site where people can write their opinions–why is that a problem?

            I fully realize it’s not my decision, and I do not have a VETERINARY degree, but I would be surprised if Rachel could be bred again–and I find that sad. But again, better safe than sorry. Were it me, I’d rather have her around than throw the dice on an abdomen and genitourinary system that has already been through the war–and not in the “usual” way. Prayers for her and her family. :)

          • Beach

            I’d have to ask a vet, but I’d guess that diabetes/insulin in a horse is also a rigmarole. Sadly, I’ve even had friends have to put cats down because getting them out of DKA is hell-on-Earth if not impossible. I can only imagine what managing that disease would be in so large an animal–I hope it’s not something that happens very often, if at all. Oy…

  • PerkyGreen

    I’am happy they are going to allow Rachael this next year to continue healing, and not taking chances of further injury. Much love to her on Valentines Day, and thanks for the Memories.

  • In Tears

    considering all this mare has giving us on the track and her foaling issues, I say retire her as a broodmare. She has done her job, let her eat grass and enjoy the good life. We do not need shocking news on this great mare dying trying to foal

    • Jane

      To In Tears.
      What the heck are you talking about when you say( retire her as a broodmare ) and the next sentence you say you don’t want to see the mare dying to foal. ??
      Which way do you want it , you can’t have it both ways.

      • Loreebee

        Clearly, they are saying retire her FROM being a broodmare.

        • Samantha

          I bet they meant retire from racing, not becoming a brood mare. Since she had surgery in a sensitive area, I don’t know how they get better. I know how I would get better but a horse?

    • Jetgemini

      Good idea I am a die hard Zenyatta fan but Rachel has earned her place in the sun. God Bless

  • Nancy

    I do hope and pray she will never have to foal again and can enjoy the rest of her life doing other wonderful things for her loving FANS…….LIKE POSING FOR THE CAMERA :) Be forever well Rachael, I sure have loved following your career. Thank-you for the happiness.

  • Mousse

    Good move….now how about a new career as a Dressage or hunter/jumper prospect. She is in the prime of her life and with her class and heart she would probably excel in a new equine endeavor.

    • scoobynacks

      You realize she probably hasn’t been ridden since 2010 right? Three Chimneys tries to exercise their stallions (unless they’re not in good shape for it or are too hard to handle like Dynaformer was) but pretty sure most people leave their broodmares unridden. Leave her alone to eat grass. There are enough horses that actually need another career and are otherwise in danger of going to slaughter. She’s safe. They don’t have super frequent visitation with her for a reason. Some mares like Rachel get a little stressed from things like that happening a lot, and that’s one reason that was given for her getting prescheduled days with smaller groups. Having her in a ring would probably make her anxious, plus eventing and dressage can still injure a horse. When a horse has earned their way into the Hall of Fame (where she’ll soon be), they don’t need to go hunting for another gig unless they’re unhappy. She’s not. Jumping Rachel would be ludicrous. Lava Man needed something to do. Let people manage their own horse when said horse is being well cared for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/blueblueseaottb bluebluesea

    Don’t breed her again. Be happy with the 2 foals you got. She’s a wonderful ambassador for this sport. If you breed her to death, you’ll hurt the sport more than you can imagine.

  • ds

    To every single one of the women who propose to retire her, event her or anything else except give her a year off to heal and breed her right back-she is not a pet. She is a champion racemare who owes no one anything, except to produce foals that can carry on her legacy. One more chance in 2015-any complications, shut her down. She will not event, or dressage.

    • Jess

      last two chances didn’t go so well. Three strikes and she could be out. She almost died last year, why would you risk it again???

      • scoobynacks

        Some mares get overbred by unscrupulous individuals who get greedy. I don’t think Barbara Banke is one of those people, so let her make the call with the help of medical professionals. We aren’t in any position to know fact here and the delicate intestinal situation of a horse (where Rachel suffered complications) is a far different situation than birthing complications in a human being. It could be even riskier to rebreed because of that, but I don’t presume to know for sure because I’m not an expert on the reproductive system of a horse. I’m sure Barbara is as up to date on what’s what as she can be. She loves Rachel and what Rachel represents to Jess’s legacy far more than any of us ever could, however much we were moved by watching her run. They have Samantha Nicole as a potential broodmare replacement so if you want Rachel to be pensioned, root for her sister because it’ll make the decision not to go back to the well easier. Maybe if that works out and Rachel’s babies grow up to do well, Rachel’s genes and her full sister’s genes will carry on just fine and she can hang out in a pasture having made the most of her opportunity. It’s quality not quantity when it comes to foals. A couple good ones could end up being sport changing esp. since one was a Curlin, and one was a Bernardini. Good luck to Sam on 2/16.

    • diastu in tempe

      You’re probably a guy, right? There is nothing nice about a problem pregnancy or traumatic birth event – for any animal. You need to read part of what you wrote: “owes no one anything”. Stopping right there would have been good.

      • M. A. Thrope

        Well put.

      • TruckDriver

        Hmmm. I wonder who the 1 down vote on your comment might be?

        • M. A. Thrope

          Some man.

    • M. A. Thrope

      NO. She doesn’t owe anybody any foals. We could go on for days about champion racemares who did not produce other champions.

      • Chris Miskell

        Well, actually she was purchased not only for her racing ability, but for her potential as a breeding animal, particularly as a future mate for Curlin. So, yeah, she does owe them some foals if possible, otherwise she would be a $10 million lawn ornament. If she is not physically capable of getting in foal, she won’t. Some of the top broodmares of all time produced foals pretty much every year up until their twenties, Somethingroyal is an example of that. Her connections will have her evaluated and make whatever decision is best, otherwise they would have tried to get her in foal this year.

        • M. A. Thrope

          She ‘owes’ them foals? So sue her. What a great lawn ornament! She can decorate my lawn anytime (with anything). Most broodmares do produce into their twenties, but to what end? Most of them aren’t worth a darn. You seem to have missed the fact that she CAN get in foal, it’s the post-delivery that’s the problem. Catch up. They’re not breeding her this year, because they a) want to let the heat die down, and b) they’re hoping a year off will change everything.

          • Knowitall

            They don’t care about any “heat” (really), and they are not breeding her this year because of the risk per vet and Banke’s affection for the mare, not because it will “change everything.” Now you are all caught up, and you’re welcome.

          • M. A. Thrope

            Gosh, I can’t thank you enough. I have to wonder if Banke’s affection isn’t for the attention. However, we will just have to wait until next year for me to be proved correct.

          • Lexington 4

            You “have to wonder if Banke’s affection isn’t for the attention”?

            Are you serious? You are absolutely pathetic. (And we don’t even have to wait a year for me to be proven correct about that.)

          • M. A. Thrope

            Then why was Rachel bred a second time? Are they slow learners?

          • RayPaulick

            Lexington 4, we don’t always agree on some issues, but you could not be more right here and I appreciate your comments. Remember, as long as some of these commenters are tied to a computer and off the streets, the world is a safer place.

          • Lexington 4

            Thanks, Ray. Disagreeing on something like Lasix is one thing- and something that we will likely always do, but surely there are lines of basic human decency that everyone should be able to recognize and not cross.

            Those are two different things.

        • Loreebee

          She does not owe them foals. What a silly notion. I am quite sure that she was insured anyway, and if she can never produce again, her owner loves her enough to keep her as a lawn ornament.

          • Chris Miskell

            Her owner obviously loves her, but if she can safely deliver a foal they will attempt it. They spent a huge amount of money on her and she earned back only about a quarter of her purchase price and even though she provided a huge ego stroke with her Preakness win and Horse of the Year title, they can’t monetize it the same way they could if she was a stallion. I also seriously doubt that she was insured after she retired. Most mares aren’t, unlike breeding stallions. If she is insured it probably is for mortality only as a claim for infertility would likely mean the carrier would have ended up owning her, like what happened with Cigar and Lure. Whether you consider my comments callous, it doesn’t change the fact that she is not a pet. Situations like this, however, make you wonder if the Quarter Horse people have it right. They allow embryo transfer.

    • Loreebee

      She does not even owe anyone foals.

  • Darci

    I spent 3 days at Stonestreet in October, got to meet Rachel and many of the staff there. I can tell you the amount of love Ms Banke & all of the staff have for this mare is incredible and beyond explanation. Whatever decision that is made, is made in the best interest of Rachel & her health with no other motivating factors in play. I support whatever decision they make now & in the future because I know it is made ONLY with her best interests in mind.

    • Ida Lee

      First, who do I have to kill to get to spend 3 days at Stonestreet and meet Rachel? But seriously, looking at Ms. Banke’s face at the press conference reporting on Rachel’s serious condition said it all. My heart ached for her. Not for a minute would I think that anyone at Stonestreet would do anything that would cause Rachel harm. Thank you for confirming it.

      • Darci

        LOL Ida, I actually won a contest that was hosted by NYRA & Stonestreet. It was absolutely amazing!!!

        • TruckDriver

          Wow. You hit the lottery Darci.

        • Mary Dixon Reynolds

          Ive entered EVERY contest that I could find but have never won. Im ready to begin stalking her, trying to get a chance to be with her for a few minutes. God forbid, but if I ever b/c terminally ill, I will contact ‘Make a Wish’ and, hopefully, get a chance to see her! Darcy, you are a lucky Lady!

    • TruckDriver

      What a beautiful photo. I only wish all horses, all creatures, all humans were treated as wonderfully as my broken blaze girl is treated. I am so thankful they are caring for her and not pressuring themselves into a timetable decision. Thanks for the report!

      • Darci

        Thank you! One of my all time favorite photos that I have ever taken :-)

        • TruckDriver

          I think I could stare at horse eyes all day long! :-)

    • Samantha

      I still say they are thinking of bucks not her.

  • Ida Lee

    I did not think Rachel would be bred this year after what Ms. Banke went through last year. It was a nightmare for all concerned. Rachel is one of the greatest things that has happened to horse raising. I say use her as a good will ambassador for the sport. She can make public appearances at big horse racing events to help bring the crowds in, fund raisers for retired race horses, and spend Summers at the KY Horse Park where fans from all over the world can see her. I know that Rachel is a business but wherever Rachel goes, so does the name Stonestreet. You can’t buy this kind of good will…

    • M. A. Thrope

      After what Ms. Banke went through? How about what Rachel went through? But, you are right about her value as good will.

      • Ida Lee

        We all know the nightmare Rachel went through but It was not just Rachel who suffered but all who love her, whether they be those who are with her every day or those of us who adore her from afar. A breaking heart is quite painful.

        • M. A. Thrope

          Quite. Darn painful, actually. However, none of us will ever die from one. (Let’s not segue into animals grieving themselves to death.)

          • Ida Lee

            M.A. Anyone who has lost a love one knows what a broken heart feels like; if you don’t die of it, you wish you would. If you are one of the lucky ones who has never had a broken heart, then I envy you to no end. As to Rachel “grieving”, Rachel’s suffering was from physical pain and I’m sure it was excruciating. Nowhere do I say Rachel was “grieving”…

          • MyBigRed

            I came pretty close to grieving to death on Oct 4th 1989, when Secretariat died…..My mother passed away 3 months prior & my heart was already quite fragile. I believe Eddie Sweat died of a broken heart even though it was 9 years later, when he passed. The man was NEVER the same after Secretariat passed. Man O’ War died shortly after his groom, Will Harbut passed away. So, Yes, it can happen.

          • Kaye237

            I felt the same about Barbaro, I was living a very hard time back in 2006 and Barbaro battle gave me courage to keep going, his death just crushed my heart into more pieces that I could count. Every single year, on Jan. 29th, I just cry myself like it was on Jan. 29th, 2007, except this year. Guess I’m slowly starting to heal

  • Knowitall

    Wow. Stonestreet and Banke do the absolutely best thing for the mare and almost all the posts here are telling them not to breed her? To make her a pretty pony? When the press release SAID they weren’t breeding her this year? As for the suggestions that she should be a show horse or a tourist attraction…when any of you pony up 10 million for a horse, post again to tell someone else what they should do with a horse they have already DONE EVERYTHING for.

    Barbara Banke is the perfect example of exactly how this game should be played all the time.

    • M. A. Thrope

      Your comments are confusing.

      • Knowitall

        Sorry about that. Happy to clarify if you are specific. I like your clever handle, though.

        • M. A. Thrope

          My handle and I thank you.

    • Samantha

      I don’t understand how these “horse”
      owners think only of the bottom line. I laugh if it is found RA can’t
      have any more foals! The same goes with Zenyatta’s owners. Thank goodness they gave her a year off!

  • diastu in tempe

    I am very happy with this decision. Rachel has given us all all the thrills we could ever expect from one racehorse. She made her connections a ton of money. She has given Stonestreet a colt and a filly to carry on her legacy. And she is a wonderful ambassador for the breed and I hope she is fully used for that purpose. Kudos to Mrs. Banke for setting the bar high and leading the way!

  • Patricia Jones

    keep her happy and alive thank you

  • katie

    On one hand I vote for never breeding her again . . . on the other hand I can’t help but genuinely mourn the loss of the amazing genetic legacy she should/could and would have produced. It seems that the greatest race mares in history often have difficulty with their broodmare careers. That is a dam shame (pun intended) when they have so much to contribute to the gene pool, and so little time to do it.

    • M. A. Thrope

      The science of genetics is applied too stringently to horse breeding. If it were always correct, Secretariat’s full and half siblings would have produced race records similar to his. Obviously, they did not. Nor did Big Red ‘reproduce himself’. I couldn’t stand the people who called him a failure at stud because that never happened. So much for genetic legacy.

      • betterthannothing

        Well said!

      • Kaye237

        Couldn’t say better! Same with all the full siblings to Barbaro (Nicanor, Letanor, margano) or to all great champions.

        Not to mention the people saying that about Secretariat clearly don’t consider what a broodmare sire he was, Storm Cat, A.P. Indy or Summer Squall just for starters (probably mostly thanks to Factor X). People who only consider sire’s accomplishement by the numbers of Derby or BC winners among the direct (1st gen) male progeny don’t know anything about breeding.

      • Loreebee

        Stallions legacies are often in siring spectacular BROODMARES, not racing stock. The best of the genes pass through the mares.

  • stinky13

    It’s possible for her to be retired AND producing offspring (although I’m sure it’ll never happen). Couldn’t the jockey club make exceptions in a case like this to have her serviced artificially, have the embryo flushed out of her after a week, and implanted in to a surrogate dam? Maybe her condition won’t even allow for this but it’s done all the time with cattle. Maybe it’s not so successful with horses.

    • Lindsay Hunter

      NO the JC does not ‘make exceptions “

    • M. A. Thrope

      There was a lot of talk about AI after Barbaro was injured. No exceptions were made because of his condition.

  • misti762000

    Why not do an embryo transfer to a top quarter horse stallion. This would allow her to have her genetics passed on and not carry any foals.

    • Quilla

      Jockey Club does not allow this (and wisely so).

      • Anglokraut

        But the AQHA does allow A.I. and embryo transfer. I believe the idea would be for Rachel Alexandra to have multiple foals a year birthed by surrogate mares, and sired by Quarter Horse studs. Such foals would never be registered with the Jockey Club, but they would be registered as Quarter Horse crosses, and be used as Quarter Horse stock.

        • Quilla

          Oh, my. Ambitious.

          • M. A. Thrope

            Quarter horse stock? Ye gods.

          • Anglokraut

            I suppose there are worse things; Overbrook Farm sold Storm Cat’s semen for Quarter Horse A.I., so they must have not had too much of a problem with the idea. Or the money was right.

          • M. A. Thrope

            I don’t care what they might or might not have had a problem with, you got it right on the second part. Dead on.

          • Knowitall

            I think only one foal was conceived from the brief offer of SC frozen semen when he was pensioned in ’08.

        • Loreebee

          For what purpose?

          • Anglokraut

            Who knows? I just explained what COULD be done. I don’t have to supply a motive.

  • 66puppies

    Rachel, I love ya, but you sure do bring the nuts out of the woodwork…

  • we’re watching

    Thank you Stone Street for this decision. We cannot afford to push the envelope on this priceless treasure of the animal world. Long live Rachel, this beautiful creature.

    • Knowitall

      If I told you Rachel’s care cost six figures in the past year, would you still be part of “we”?

  • Alexa Pilcher

    Commendations to whoever her vet was at Rood and Riddle, incredible that she was saved at all, after reading the details … just incredible ….

  • betterthannothing

    Admirable decision. What a relief! Thank you Stonestreet!

  • Windolin

    I think what some of you fail to understand is that it takes a long time for a horse to heal from the injury to their colon that Rachel sustained. It is a miracle that this mare is still alive, much less worries about breeding her again. If you recall she was hospitalized for a few days after the birth of Jess’s Dream. Not all mares, like not all women, have easy pregnancies and deliveries. Rachel is an icon in racing and if Ms Banke decides to never breed her again, it will do nothing to tarnish or diminish her status as a legendary race horse. As to the cost of her medical care, what concern is that of yours? Rachel won around 8 million dollars as best I can recall. So she earned more than enough money to pay for her care. Rachel’s case also contributed valuable knowledge that can used to save other horses. And yes, she certainly could serve as a good will ambassador for the racing industry…Lord know it needs it. Finally…sometimes things are about more than the money.

    • Mimi H

      I agree. And if I remember right, Rachel’s dam rejected her and she was raised by a surrogate like her second foal. I don’t remember if anyone ever said why or if the delivery was difficult also. I do know that the foal was large – that seldom makes it easier. I’m sure her connections will have all the information available and will follow knowledgeable advice.

    • M. A. Thrope

      Thank you. Well put, and I hope it puts an end to this.

    • Ginger2000

      Well said.

  • Lexington 4

    Stonestreet and Banke are first class, but did themselves no favors by letting the public know all about Rachel’s issues. Now, every internet expert and wackadoodle is on here giving their worthless free advice to Banke about what is best for Rachel’s future.

    What a waste of pixels.

    • M. A. Thrope

      Can you imagine the reaction, though, if they had not released any information?

      • Lexington 4

        There are broodmares and stallions that spend time in the local equine hospitals that never get made public. R&R knows what discretion is, if the owners want it that way.

        Do you know every well known stallion or mare that has been at R&R in the past year?

        Banke and Stonestreet were too nice, and now the looney tunes are turned loose. Fortunately, I am confident they will make future decisions on the advice of actual experts and professionals. Not the pretend ones on the internet.

        • Knowitall

          Someone got out in social media ASAP saying she was in the clinic the first year. Might have just been someone who saw her there. R&R really good about privacy but only so much you can do with as many that come and go as clients/handlers. Hard to keep it tamped down with a mare of that status, plus how would they have explained the lack of updates right after they already announced that she foaled? I think transparency is better choice for the sport’s goodwill and fans in this 24/7 news age. The idiots are going to be idiots no matter what you tell them. (That all said, Banke loves the mare even more than her whackjob fans do, which is a good thing.)

          • Lexington 4

            Yeah, there are definitely a lot of tough calls in this 24/7 news age and a keyboard in the hands of every “whackjob fan”.

            No doubt about that.

          • betterthannothing

            “I think transparency is better choice for the sport’s goodwill and fans
            in this 24/7 news age. The idiots are going to be idiots no matter what
            you tell them. (That all said, Banke loves the mare even more than her
            whackjob fans do, which is a good thing.)”

            Very well said Knowitall. The industry should conduct itself ethically and welcome transparency from birth. Transparency the best choice for the sport’s goodwill and fans, essential to improve the welfare and safety of horses and their riders, and to protect the financial welfare of horse buyers and ethical horsemen. Transparency is essential to improve the breed.

        • M. A. Thrope

          I don’t think anyone is trying to give ‘advice’ – we’re just hoping Rachel doesn’t have to go through that again.

    • Windolin

      The wackos come out of the woodwork on every issue and every news story, When the news came out that Saint Nicholas Abbey had suffered a life ending colic, the wackos who support non GMO foods wailed that the reason he got sick was because he was fed GMO feed and hay. I personally try to overlook the nut jobs and their comments as much as I can. Rachel has a huge and devoted fan base and most of the comments to the Stone Street Facebook site while she was fighting for her life were of love, thoughts and prayers and to offer support to Ms Banke and the Stone Street organization.

  • Bill

    I watched Rachel run the Mother Goose at Belmont in 2009
    Breaking the track record set by the great Ruffian
    I was transfixed in time
    Then I ran to watch her cool out afterwards
    As she approached – She paused for a moment and
    saw right through me!!!

    Gods perfection before my very eyes!!!!!!

  • Windolin

    Barbara Banke will make the best decision for Rachel and not her pocketbook. I am convinced of that.

  • TBRider1

    Meantime while she heals, why not harvest her eggs & create some phenomenal event horses?

  • MyBigRed

    I woke up Friday Morning thinking about Rachel.
    No, I didn’t tell my husband what was on my mind, since it would hurt his feelings.
    BUT, all I could think about was how close Barbara & the world came to losing Rachel this time last year. After all is said & done, Barbara is Rachel’s owner, and it is her right to decide if she wants to breed Rachel again. Therefore, I honesty believe she will do what is in “Rachel’s Best Interest”. I would love to see a photo of “Jessie’s Girl” now that she is 1 year old.

  • its post time

    I’m am sure she is insured big time!! I wouldn’t try again…. but I’m not her owner nor vet….

  • cindy

    I was just reading about Zenyatta in foal and had to comment through email, but so far as Rachel Alexandra not going to be bred in 2014, at least, I have a whole new respect for Stonestreet. Thank you Ms. Banke for caring about her health and safety as opposed to having to have Rachel in foal every year until “death”? So, thank you for showing respect for this wonderful mare. I’m proud of Stonestrest and I wish Rachel and Ms. Banke all the best in the future.

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