Famed Thoroughbred photographer Barbara Livingston has always had a penchant for racing history, and her latest project was one that touched the hearts of a great many racing fans. Her story in the Daily Racing Form relays the final journey of a horse “whose name has been lost to time.”
Livingston, like many local fans, attended the auction held by Rockingham Park as the track shuttered its doors in September. She noted a gravestone in the track's infield, and after several inquiries, took it upon herself to ensure the stone's preservation. Etched across the top was the name “Springsteel,” and then, several lines farther down, “injured in service.”
It turns out Springsteel was a bit of a legend in his day, if not of the very highest caliber, winning a number of stakes races over his career and even setting a track record at Rockingham Park. In his 76th start, Springsteel fell and broke his shoulder; the next day, he was buried in the infield at Rockingham. The marker above his grave, reportedly moved to make room for a turf course in 1986, is all that remains; the grave site of the horse himself appears to have been lost to history.
Livingston worked out a deal with Old Friends' Michael Blowen, and wound up driving the stone from New York to Kentucky herself. Placed next to the grave site of Skip Away, Springsteel's marker found it's final resting place.
“What is the purpose of a horse's gravestone?” Livingston wrote. “Need the body lie near the stone that memorializes it, or is the headstone enough to mark the memory?”
Read more of this touching story at the Daily Racing Form.
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