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This page last updated:  Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Barbaro's Legacy 2008
(April 26, 2008)


“Barbaro's Legacy 2008,” held at Beauty's Haven on Saturday, 4/26/08, had an excellent turnout with 50+ FOBs and many locals who saw it advertised in the Ocala Star Banner!


Unfortunately, the day started out bad at the rescue:  we went out early to feed and get ready for the day and found one of the horses, Sunny, had been attacked not long before with some sort of tool or weapon that left him with multiple cuts.  Sunny is so sweet and would walk up to anyone; he's a very trusting horse.  You can read more about this on Sunny's page.  Sunny would be OK, but it shook up all of us.  By the time the vet and Deputy finished, folks started to show up for the day ahead. Sunny got to spend the day in a stall.

The well organized day included the "Walk the Farm" tour.  Attendees literally "walked the farm" with a farm guide to various "stations" to meet all the resident horses and listen to their "before and after" stories.  They learned about the workings of a rescue, feeding, vet care, etc.  There was an impressive table display of all the various products used daily in the care of the horses (feed, vitamins, etc).


Because the theme was "education" this year, after lunch we all settled in to listen to a wide array of guest speakers.  Brenda Ryder (who substituted for Barbi Moline, FL FOB anti-slaughter campaign leader, who was on grandbaby watch and wasn't able to attend) gave us an update on the anti-slaughter campaign and stressed the importance and timeliness of making phone calls to our representatives.

Next was Vanessa Nye, racehorse owner and who is featured in the Fox TV news segment (can be seen on the ABR thread 'FL FOBs on TV for Barbaro'), led a very informative and passionate discussion about helping TBs after their racing careers are over.  Being on the "inside," she has connections and resources that are willing to help start a TB sanctuary, or TB owner's speaker’s bureau.  A rousing "brainstorming" session among FOBs followed for a half-hour or so.



Charlie Davis, Secretariat's exercise rider, took us on a wonderful ride ("He was like the Concorde!") with Big Red.  A very approachable and kind fellow, Charlie spoke about their personal connection with one another ("I knew him, and he knew me.") when telling us the story about when he had a long night and arrived to exercise Big Red with a hangover.  He said, "Big Red knew I wasn't in good shape, and he took care of me." 

And vice versa.  "When Secretariat was feeling good, the minute he heard one camera click he would puff himself up and strut.  He loved the cameras!  But when a camera clicked and he didn't do that, I knew he wasn't feeling good."  Triple Crown Jockey, Ron Turcotte, would get daily updates from Charlie about how Secretariat was working out and if there was anything he needed to know.  When asked what he thought about Secretariat's performance in the Belmont, Charlie said, "I thought he was going to die! He kept getting faster and faster!!  I thought he was just going to keel over at the finish line."  Charlie did tear up towards the end of his "trip down memory lane" with Secretariat -- they were more than horse and rider, they were friends.  He brought beautiful photos of him and Big Red.

Following was Chris and Dale Dunn from Habitat for Horses who spoke about their rescue efforts after hurricane Katrina. That experience led them to develop several publications to help horse owners prepare their horse for natural disasters (hurricane, tornado, etc). They are also championing the cause to micro-chip all horses. They have re-connected 334 or 335 horses with their owners due to micro-chips. They gave a demonstration on the simplicity of micro-chipping horses and have offered to micro-chip all of Beauty's Haven's horses.

Last, but absolutely not least, we were privileged to have two very special guests arrive, Jill and John Stephens (thanks to a Ft. Myers FOB), trainers of Barbaro and Nicanor. It was iffy if they would be able to attend, so we didn't make any pre-event announcements.

It was like the icing on the cake when they did indeed arrive. Of course the first question fielded was "How is Nicanor doing?" to which John replied, "Nicanor is doing fine and will be leaving soon and going to Michael Matz at Fair Hill." Making a hugging motion, Jill continued, "I wish I could just bubble wrap him and take him from here to there."

The Stephens were so gracious, patient and informative to answer ALL of our questions! After a lengthy Q&A session where they walked us through the 'typical day in high school' for their charges, the question came to Nicanor, "How is Nicanor on the track?" Jill offered this insightful difference between Nicanor and Barbaro, "Nicanor is very serious on the track, he will get out there, look around and take it all in. But, unlike Barbaro, Nicanor loves to play before and after the track! He's a big kidder!" She peppered her presentation at times by reminding us, "NICANOR-PLAY. BARBARO-WORK."

When the inevitable topic turned to Barbaro, all hands went up in the air! John started right off by debunking the rumors that the Jacksons had 'financial motives' for wanting to save Barbaro. He was very adamant and forceful about getting that point across. "Barbaro was insured for $40 million dollars. All it EVER was about was saving Barbaro because of who he was. They loved Barbaro -- and that's ALL it ever was about."

John said that Barbaro's 'special talent' was something that he brought with him as a yearling to Stephen's Training Center. "He was so eager to learn and was impatient about learning more and more." He continued, "We didn't teach him anything that he wasn't already born with -- intelligence, presence, and speed. He was a very serious student." The couldn't talk enough about Barbaro's undefeated career and winning the KD. No one asked, and they didn't offer, ANYTHING about the Preakness. Asked if their method of training (with compassion and soft hands) had anything to do with Barbaro being such a 'good patient' while at NBC. John offered that they would like to think that it did, but that Barbaro was so intelligent and affable that he wasn't sure if it was something they did, or that it was just Barbaro being himself.

They thanked Mr. and Mrs. Jackson for including them in Barbaro's career excitement, for the opportunity to train Barbaro, Nicanor and yes, little BB2 (uh, Lentenor, and not so little anymore) will be heading to Florida in the Fall.

In closing, John turned the topic to us, the FOBs. They were amazed and inspired on how the FOB phenom continues for Barbaro. "There are a lot of nice horses out there, but nothing like this has ever happened before -- that's the specialness about Barbaro! He was unique in so many ways, and even with the same gene pool, we may never see that again. It's inspiring to see so much good following him."

The Stephens did divulge that they have a special interest (part owner) in Visionaire and made the announcement that they will donate $5000 to Beauty's Haven if Visionaire places 1, 2 or 3 in the Kentucky Derby! GO VISIONAIRE!!

They were also AWESOME bidders during our auction! They bid highest for the 'before and after' Breyer Barbaro collectors set (donated by Yetta F). John later confided in Yetta that he already has the Breyer Barbaro models, then said, "But, if some little girl, at some time, wants a model, I can give it to her."

They also won the bid for a beautiful John Fawcett autographed painting of Barbaro (donated by John Fawcett) -- which they immediately donated back, "We really do have so many beautiful photos of Barbaro, use this again for your auction," Jill said.

John was having a good time (poker face and all) bidding in the auction: They won the bid for the new 134 KD poster (donated by Terri Kaufman) and the Jane Schwartz Ruffian book, 'Burning from the Start' signed by jockey Jacinto Vasquez (donated by Sarah Boris). Jill was lucky in the raffle too, and won a Pat DeLong signed sweatshirt (donated by Pat DeLong). A video was shot during the event and portions of the Stephens' presentation will be posted on YouTube (will let you know when that is available).

Afterwards, Jill and John graciously signed our programs, posed for photos and participated in our Barbaro Spirit Vigil (led by Bonnie Buron, with special reflections from FOB Lisa/NY who actually met BBH! "He had his butt facing me when I walked in!") Then we cut the carrot cake decorated with the Pat Delong design used on our T-Shirts.

It was an awesome day of friendship, education, and networking, but the best part was the generosity of the FOBs attending and gathering donations, buying raffle tickets, T-shirts, and bidding during our auction which brought in funds to Beauty's Haven!! The intent was to raise funds for a much needed hay barn. Funds from this even have been put into an escrow account and BH will hold additional fundraisers to add to this escrow account until enough funds are raised to build it.

A BIG thank you to Susan and Yetta and everyone that attended and that was connected to this fabulous event inspired by Barbaro!!

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