Two dozen yellow roses showed up at Hyperion Farm in Wellington, Florida recently. They were addressed to Sagacious HF, the eight-year old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Hyperion Farm's Al and Judy Guden. The horse will compete for the USA tomorrow in the dressage at the Pan Am Games in Brazil.
And they were signed by a horse that knows a whole lot about roses: 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
The roses were a token of good luck from one champ to another but also testimony to an old friendship. The Gudens switched from owning Thoroughbreds in New York to owning dressage sport horses in Florida when the moved south but Judy Guden went to school with Street Sense trainer Carl Nafzger years ago in West Texas...hence the yellow roses!
Al Guden emailed me tonight with this insight into one of America's top sport horse owners and one of America's great Eclipse Award-winning Thorougbred trainers: "Judy and Carl went to school in Olton, Texas from the first grade right through high school. They graduated together in a class of 42!"
He continued, "Carl trained race horses for us for a number of years. We had an Unbridled mare named CEO Sis who had a short and successful career and she produced one horse that we race and won a few more races."
(Note: Carl Nafzger trained Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup Classic winner Unbridled. You may remember the famous video clip of him at Churchill Downs alternately shouting at and kissing the 90+ year-old owner Mrs Genter. His famous speech was "He's taking the lead. He's gonna win. He's gonna win. He's gonna win. He's a winner! He's a winner! He's a winner, Mrs. Genter! You've won the Kentucky Derby, Mrs. Genter! I love you,"--that was one of the greatest Derby moments ever!)
Carl and his wife Wanda recently visited Hyperion Farm to wish the Gudens well.
Street Sense by the way will be a shut-in (probably literally) this weekend while Churchill Downs hosts a Police concert. Once that is over Street Sense will head to Saratoga; his arch-rival Curlin arrived there yesterday.
There's another connection here; both Judy Guden and Al Nafzger were friends with the late great laminitis specialist farrier Burney Chapman from Lubbock, Texas. Judy says that Carl still stays in touch with Burney's sons, who are all farriers. Carl used to shoe his own runners back in the days when he was training Quarter horses at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico, Judy says. The Gudens and Hoofcare and Lameness Journal became friends when Burney died in the late 1990s.
For all those reasons and more, I'll add my best wishes to those of Street Sense. Let's hope that Sagacious HF and his rider Lauren Sammis shine in the Brazilian sun tomorrow!
The Gudens will be waiting for a call to tell them how their horse does in the big arena tomorrow. Judy opted not to attempt the trip as she is completing another round of treatments for ongoing breast cancer therapy.
Lauren Sammis's saddle cloth (below) says so much about the caring spirit of this rider, the courage of such a young horse to represent his country overseas, and what we all hope will be the joy of a proud owner who loves her horse. That horse has a lot riding on him; win or lose, he's brought the Games into perspective for many of us.
Learn more about Sagacious HF and other Hyperion Farm champions like KWPN young stallion champions (in Europe) Uptown, and Washington (owned in partnership with Kathy Connolly and Toine Hoefs) at http://www.hyperionfarm.com