The outpouring of love and affection toward the recent devastating loss of both Awad and Cozy Miss is truly inspiring. From trainer David Donk to his many, many fans Awad was a magnet for great people. The same with Cozy. We’re always working toward providing more homes for more deserving horses. We’re making overtures to expand our New York operation and we’ll keep everyone posted as we get closer to that goal.
About Awad… from his friend Jane Turner.
I just got news today that one of my best friends has passed on. His name is AWAD and yes he is a horse. First I want to acknowledge that I shouldn’t be so torn up about it because for one, I haven’t spent any real time with him for many years and two, he has gone on to greener pastures. Hearing of his passing brings to surface the wonderful memories of the time I was so blessed with his daily presence in my life. As with any passing it is those left behind who are sad.
For starters I like to say THANK YOU to all of those at OLD FRIENDS in Kentucky for making his last years of life as close to perfect as a horse could want. Who knows where AWAD would have ended up after he was no longer useful in the breeding shed if not for all your great work. The job you do providing for these retired horses is amazing!
Who was AWAD? As far as racehorses go he had a blessed life; for starters he was sound, he was fast and he had a heart bigger than he was. In the racing business you would call him an “iron horse” because as some might say “he never missed as dance.”
He ran from 1992 -1998. His official career summary says 70 starts, 14 wins, 10 seconds, earnings of $3,270,131. Of course those simple stats leave out the noses, necks, ½ lengths when he was 4th instead of winning partially because his breath taking, heart pounding come from last flying finish running style left him susceptible to a slow pace. It also set him up to break records when they set a lightening pace in front of him.
I met him the spring of 1993 when I went to work for David Donk at Belmont Park. I started galloping horses in Middleburg, VA for Paul Fout and all you ever heard was the “good ones run in NewYork” I was blessed by falling into jobs with excellent horsemen everywhere I went from Mike Bell in Arkansas and Kentucky to Eddie Gaudet in Maryland, Niall Brennan in Ocala and then Al Darlington In Aiken. It was Al Darlington who suggested I go to work for Dave. I thought I’d be there a year or two maybe. That was in 1993 before I met AWAD, my Little, BIG horse.
He was the first horse I galloped around that 11/2 oval and it was love at first bouncing step. Here was the horse that every other trainer or rider who had known one before tried to tell you about, simply the horse of a lifetime. A horse dreams are made of !! A horse whose simple presence in my life made me feel like a champion too. I was lucky to work with amazing people like Dave and Fay Donk and all of the horses were my best friends but traveling the US and then to Japan with AWAD was stuff of a fairy tale.
The first road trip was to Arlington for the Secretariat. The stabling was portable stalls in the parking lot because the stable area was under quarantine. I remember walking him after training and he would stop and look directly at the cameras but he was a long shot so they didn’t take so many pictures. He tried to tell them!! When we went out to Santa Anita together we would back up and stand. I’d see some people pass by on 4 or 5 different horses. They’d joke with me “I hope you get paid by the hour not the head.” Riding him took me out of this world to a place of peace like none other.
Some people thought he was crazy because he liked to talk a lot and show off but he was a great horse to ride and work with. He screamed all the time and announced his coming and going. We always got to ride in the front of the plane so he wouldn’t disturb the rest of the horses and we didn’t have to listen to him the whole way
I’ve ridden quite a few horses in my 23 years at the track and having worked for Todd Pletcher and now for Christophe Clement; I’ve been on some extremely talented and successful ones. When I sit on one that gives me goose bumps, that feeling of floating on air; One that takes you into your own little world where it’s just you and a horse and hooves barely touching the ground, it’s AWAD I compare them to because we spent 365 days a year for 5 years in that elevated space.
When I first came on the track people told me “don’t fall in love with them it’s a business.” I disagree I’m here because I love them and as their keeper asking them to give their lives to me in service I owe it to them fast or slow, My heart will break a million times but I’ll keep loving them all one-by-one. There will never be another quite like him but he taught me what to look for. He had that rare combination of cockiness, talent and heart that all exceptional athletes possess. He was a true champion and how lucky was I to be along for the ride.
I read this quote many years ago before I had a horse but it describes my boy to a t:
“About the head of a truly great horse there is an air of freedom unconquerable. The eyes seem to look on heights beyond our gaze. It is the look of a spirit that can soar. It is not confined to horses even in pictures you can see it in the eyes of the Bonaparte. It is the birthright of eagles”
John Taintor Foote
Thanks WADIE for letting me soar with you.