Owning horses will cause your hands to shake sometimes. I can distinctly remember when In Over My Head first made my hands shake. It was right after we bought him at an auction. The excitement got the best of me and I couldn’t even sign my name on the sales slip. From that day on, he caused my hands to shake many times. Normally this was after a big race and once text messaging became more prevalent (can you believe that Mo’s career goes back to the early stages of sending text messages???) the hand shaking phenomenon become more noticeable. Today, Mo made my hands shake one last time…and for a very unique reason.
He passed his fertility test.
Let me take a step back since I haven’t had an updated since June.
This season marked Mo’s 8th as a racehorse. At times, he looked like his old self. Other times, he was starting to look his age. He had three wins in six starts and going into his seventh start there was no reason to think he wouldn’t get his fourth win on the season. We had no idea that July 25, 2015 was about to mark the end of one of the most exciting, gratifying, humbling and memorable experiences in our lives.
When the gate folded that night, Mo make an uncharacteristic break. After he got back on stride, his driver, Kyle Wilfong, urged him to pick up the pace. He made another break. This went on again and finally Kyle just let Mo do his thing. What Mo did was pace around the Balmoral oval in about two minutes, some 30 lengths from the leader. He was trying to communicate something very simple to us. He was trying to tell us that he didn’t want to race anymore.
In his previous 87 starts, Mo had never given anything less than a 100%, run through a wall effort. Even through injury…hell, even when he got hurt IN THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE. Nothing stopped him. He was a runaway freight train. Suddenly, he flipped the switch and ended things on his own terms. It took us about 2 minutes to come to the conclusion that there was be no more races. While he was sore, the great thing was that he did not have any major injuries. Even though he was about to be retired, we had him checked out anyway. No minor breaks or tears could be found. We were always worried he would end his career with some sort of injury, but he made sure to pull the plug before that happened. He was healthy enough to easily transition to the next stage of his career…but what was that going to be?
We needed to find him a good home. Preferably a home that allowed him to, you know, be a stallion. We knew it wouldn’t be easy. The stallion game is a tough one and while Mo has shown many of the traits needed to become a successful stallion, the competition is fierce. We would need to find the right niche. So we went to work.
Danny took the lead and he reached out to numerous small farms in California, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana among others. We had a nice package of information with a letter explaining why he would be a good fit. For a while, it was silence, then we got a call back from someone in Iowa. She had about 5 mares and knew of others that might want to breed to him. Perfect.
We were thrilled at the thought that our boy was going to get a chance to live the life of a stallion. We started having visions of his babies at racetracks. We thought that maybe one day we could have one of our own. However, there was one important obstacle that needed to be hurdled. He needed to prove his ability to be a stallion. He was…well…not experienced when it came to the ladies.
So, we set up an appointment at a clinic in Cedar Rapids, near the farm of the prospective owners. The deal was clear. If he passed his test, she’d take him. If not, we’d have to come up with a new plan and the dream of stallion life for Mo would be over. That’s a lot of pressure.
Luckily, our plan ended up working. Mo passed! Not only did he pass, but apparently he is considered “extremely fertile”. This is a great sign for his new owners and will allow him to move smoothly to his next career. When we got the news, I was actually supposed how excited I was. It was like he just won a race!
We shouldn’t have been surprised at our excitement. Mo has given us so much over the past eight years. I’ll likely do one more post that is a final summary of this story, but it is hard to describe how gratifying it is for us to be able to give Mo this second career he deserves. He should be a stallion on some level. His stats don’t to him justice. He’s a million dollar horse and hopefully he can pass along all those wonderful traits to his future offspring. We can’t wait to see that little colt one day with the dark coat, star in the middle of his forehead and white left front leg. When we do, I think we may just have to make the owner an offer they can’t refuse.
It’s also nice knowing that it isn’t over for Mo. There is more to his story. He won’t just be ours anymore, but Mo was meant to be shared. He can make more people happy and find a special place in their heart just like he has with us.
So from now on, we don’t need to say “Let’s Go Mo” anymore. I think “Go Get Em Mo” is a little more appropriate.