This week's featured off-tracker has logged some frequent flier miles over the years. Born in Ireland and a full brother to multiple Group 1 winner-turned-stallion Spectrum, Goldie began his career in England and won in his second lifetime start before traveling to the Middle East, America, Canada, and back to the States again in a racing career that saw him earn nearly $750,000.
In America, Stream of Gold won the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Handicap, placed in several Grade 1 stakes races, and still holds a track record at Gulfstream, but at some point every horse loses his form, and for Stream of Gold it was in the fall of 2008. He was claimed at Saratoga and put in training with Mike Maker, finishing second in a Grade 3 race his next time out. After failing to win at the allowance level in the following race, he was given six months off and was brought back at the same level, but only finished ahead of two horses and was back out of training for another year.
He returned at the claiming level in 2010 for a tag of $32,000 but fared poorly in that start and quickly descended into the low level claimers, transferring that September from Maker to trainer Ron Baird at Fairmount Park to run – and lose – at the $3,200 claiming level.
That's when he ended up on the “Top Bunk List,” which is managed by well-known equine advocate Alex Brown and includes horses that have earned more than $500,000 in their career and are running at a $5,000 or lower claiming level.
“Racing has an obligation, I think, to look after the stars of our sport, and there are various ways this can be done,” said Alex. “Stream of Gold won the Lincoln Handicap in the UK and a Grade 2 race here and earned over $700,000, so he fit the criteria.”
Alex said that many people were involved in helping him retire from the racetrack from an awareness-raising and fundraising standpoint.
“He retired at age 10 in May of 2011 to the New England Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Loudon, New Hampshire,” said his current owner Jericho Michels. “I met with David Sears, the founder, as well as Candace Digloria to check out their facilities and meet the horses.”
It was actually another horse at the farm that had piqued Jericho's interest, but her trainer, Michelle Karlebach, noticed a plain bay out in the field and inquired about him. That horse was Stream of Gold.
“Goldie was not up for adoption initially, but the founder let us take a look at him anyways,” explained Jericho. “Michelle jumped on first and within a couple of minutes got off and said ‘You need to get on this horse. He was very different from Hawaiian Hula, the horse we'd originally gone there to see and who was too much horse for me. I cantered Goldie a few times and felt very relaxed on him.”
Growing up in Wisconsin, Jericho began riding as a teenager. She always wanted to jump, but her mother was worried about the risk of injury, so Jericho specialized in dressage until she went to college.
“I took a lot of time off from riding when I got my undergraduate and master's degrees and got back into dressage in 2008 and moved to Vermont later that year,” said Jericho, who works at Green Mountain Coffee in Waterbury, Vt., as a digital designer. “I had always wanted to jump, so I moved to a hunter/jumper facility and ended up with Michelle [Karlebach]. I leased a horse for a year, but I had always wanted my own horse.”
That and a budget that was less than flush was the path that led Jericho to Goldie.
“I knew I wanted a nice horse, but I couldn't afford one, so I chose to go the route of OTTB,” she said.
Goldie's retraining has been a process. He retired with significant soundness and health issues, but Jericho has been committed from day one to guiding the horse through them.
“Last year we took him to Tufts University to do a bone scan and x-rays, which showed a bone spur on his vertebrae, which was causing inconsistent lameness and head bobbing,” said Jericho. “The injection he received helped tremendously. We also found that he had ulcers, so we treated him for that.”
Once his wear and tear issues were behind him, Goldie and Jericho got down to business with training. She started him over poles and eventually small jumps, and he seemed to enjoy the variety in workload.
“I wanted to do everything myself and learn what it means to train a horse,” said Jericho. “Goldie is very smart and never does the exact same thing twice. He's always trying to figure out what it is you're asking of him and what the easiest way to do it is. He's a bit of a green horse, but he always puts in 100% effort.”
Goldie sustained a tendon injury while out in his pasture, so he has been on stall rest since May. Jericho has just recently been cleared to hand walk and tack walk him.
“Right now I'm working on rehabbing him back and hoping he'll be back to being sound at the walk, trot and canter, but the vets recommend that we not jump,” she said.
Jericho is fine with that, though. To love someone or something unconditionally means you take the good with the bad and you make it work for the best. That's exactly Jericho's mindset.
“He's been the most fun and most challenging horse I've ever been on, and despite all of the ups and downs, I wouldn't change a thing,” said Jericho. “Goldie has taught me so much about myself and what it means to be a horse owner. We will take things as they come. He has a lot of kisses and carrots in his future.”
Name: Stream of Gold (Ire) (a.k.a. “Goldie”)
Born: March 4, 2001
Sire: Rainbow Quest
Dam: River Dancer (Ire)
Sale History: none
Race Record: 20-2-4-4
Race Earnings: $712,816
If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz ([email protected]) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.
Jen Roytz is the marketing and communications director at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. She also handles the farm's Thoroughbred aftercare efforts. She currently owns Point of Impact (by Point Given; a.k.a. Boomer), who retired from racing in late 2011 and is in training as a hunter/jumper. Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.
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