The Player, known for his eccentric tendency to sit on his haunches, has embarked on a new career as a stallion — but that doesn't mean his racetrack fans have forgotten about him. He gets numerous calls from admirers, wanting to visit him in retirement at Crestwood Farm.
The big chestnut was a homebred for the William “Buff” Bradley, who trained him to multiple graded stakes victories. The Player was contesting the Grade 2 New Orleans at Fair Grounds when he suffered a fractured sesamoid and damaged tendons and ligaments. The horse underwent surgery at Louisiana State University, and Bradley said the support of his fan base proved key in his recovery. Six months after he was discharged from the hospital, Bradley wanted to break up the horse's trip back to his home base in Kentucky to minimize the stress on the injured leg. He put out a call on social media, looking for layover stops along his route. Complete strangers responded, and cared for the horse while Bradley got some sleep.
One response from Alabama still stands out in his mind.
“The people insisted we stay in their guest room,” Bradley told writer Maryjean Wall. “We didn't know these people. But they were fans. I was so tired, I crashed. The next morning there was a picture on my phone: They'd texted a picture of him from the barn, lying down in the night, just in case I woke up I'd know he was resting comfortably.”
These days, The Player is fully recovered, still sitting down occasionally, and has embarked on a stud career. His fee is $2,500 and Bradley admits he could probably attract more mares in a regional market, but Bradley isn't willing to part with him, saying he'll have a home whether or not he turns into a commercial sire.
Read more at the Lexington Herald-Leader
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