Sometimes we lose sight of the equine athletes that compete for our pleasure - monetary and otherwise. However, the sad story of the Grey makes us all pause and remember that we are dealing with living, breathing animals, that capture our hearts and minds.
The accolades and condoldences are pouring in for the Grey Gladiator, who at the age of 14 unexpectedly had to be put down after a paddock accident. After romping around enjoying himself, he came back to the paddock and was soonafter gone. This is a sad story, especially when you consider he was enjoying his new life under saddle and promoting horse retirement as an equine ambassador to everyone outside the sport. He even won a competition last month. He was enjoying his well-deserved retirement after over 350 hard fought races in his career.
So far, 46 comments have been tallied on the SC piece; some of them from movers and shakers in the sport with the rest from other trainers, grooms and fans. A few genuinely caught my eye and my heart. Tony Montini, who has had dozens upon dozens of greatmoney-makers said "it was an honor to train him." He only had him for a few starts of course, but it shows what kind of horse he was. I was at Mohawk one night when the Gladiator was racing and I ran into my trainer who told me Tony got a big picture of his win blown up for his wall. He was not blowing smoke, it was 'an honor to train him'. Not many trainers get pictures of their charges blown up, and certainly not many who are only taking care of a horse for a few starts.
Rob Doyle who was with him when he was put down expressed the following:
"I was with him in his final moments. I couldn't believe what was happening, he was so tough right until the end, and then he put his head in my chest as if to say its ok. I can't hardly explain how I felt last night."
This comment, from his caretaker Wellington Charles, could bring tears to the eyes of even the most hardened horsemen and women. I have left the spelling in check.
"Good Night Son, I will always have U in my Heart....
Time with us was way to short, u were my best friend. I hope that we will see each other in the future, I coulda had the worst day and as soon as i got out of the truck and we saw each other the weight on my chest left. We were out there trying to make a diference in every standardbred we can help. U lit up faces when people would come and see u, my love for u will never leave. The way u would shake when i went in the room for carrots, the way u came to the fence when u knew it was Welly-Admiral time, U dragged me almost everywhere we went, we raced together, and hung out together. I feel so empty right now, i cant stop shedding tears for U. But I will continue what we started, and promote standardbreds for life adfter racing. but nuthin will ever compare to riding U. So now lay down my friend, ur in no more pain.
I will always love you
and u will be forever in my heart."
Horses grab us - whether we bet, groom, train or own - and make us better people. There were fine people involved with this animal, and for that we should be grateful.
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