Barreling down the Churchill Downs backstretch like the storybook stallion of childhood fantasies thundered a large black Thoroughbred with bright blaze; his head tucked, legs flying above the earth.
And standing at the rail was Kristin Leason and her friends; they were excitedly awaiting the spectacle of Calvin Borel riding millionaire racehorse Brass Hat.
They had come to meet the famous racehorse and watch his morning workout by the masterful jockey who won three Kentucky Derbies.
But who was this Thoroughbred?
Quickly snapping a picture that framed the animal mid-stride, Leason captured his hind legs pushing his front off the ground, moving powerfully forward, his image thrusting deeply into her imagination.
Watching him arrive like a rock star that early fall day in 2009 impressed the 19-year-old young lady more than anything she had seen that day on racing’s hallowed ground.
Race name: Jump Start Now
New name: Guiness
Sire: Jump Start
Dam: Lets Get Risky
Foal date: May 2006She might have been young, but she was already wise to the highs and lows of racing. She was just 12 when she groomed for a family friend one summer, and in addition to studying Thoroughbred Racing Management at SUNY-Morrisville, her parents owned racehorses as well.
So, on Sept. 9, upon seeing Jump Start Now emerge like Black Beauty on the fabled Kentucky dirt track, Leason was smitten.
“I turned to my friend and said, ‘God, I’d love a horse like that!’ I always wanted a black Thoroughbred” and this one had set her heart to hammering and the wheels of fate into play.
Although she never really thought the gleaming racehorse could be hers.
Returning to the reality of her life in upstate New York, she busied herself with horse-related projects, and tried to take her mind off of the one she really wanted.
She already owned a fantastic little Thoroughbred named Chicken Tango, a horse she met in college and helped rehabilitate from a leg injury, while she was recovering from her own broken leg.
“We became best friends while we limped along together,” she says; they took walks, and she groomed him and cleaned his stall.
For a couple of years, Leason worked with Tango and a second ex-racehorse “project” horse before deciding to re-home them both.
Although it “broke her heart” to see the horses go, each found great new homes: Tango became a polo player in Florida, and has excelled at the sport; and the other,who had chronic lameness issues, went to work as a therapy horse for American war veterans.
Then, two years later, and after experiencing some personal and financial challenges since first seeing Jump Start Now, fate played an exciting hand.
Leason was contacted by the horse’s owners and asked if she knew anyone who would possibly want him. Her heart soared.
“I said, ‘Yes. I want him,’ ” she says. “I learned he had a very small bowed tendon but that he’d been rehabbed and was ready for a new job.”
Her only concern was whether the owners could wait until she could make arrangements to ship him home. And with great relief, she learned they were happy to do so.
“The owner texted me that they would absolutely wait for me. She said she really loved him and wanted to find him a perfect home,” says Leason.
On May 25th this year, her black fantasy horse stepped off the van and walked into her barn.
And in the few months they’ve had together, they’ve been a perfect team.
On their first hunter/pace at the end of June, he won handily: they beat the field of other horses by 26 seconds!
And of the five hunter paces they’ve competed in, he has already won two.
“This is only the beginning,” she says. “He has turned out to be the best friend I could ever have asked for.”
6 responses to “Churchill Downs dream horse is now hers”
Love this story. I have a horse that raced at Churchill as well. She has been off the track for two years and we now do jumpers. TB’s are such awesome horses.
So amazing! I’ll never forget when we went to our first OBS sale looking for an event prospect and saw a horse that we’d seen and loved at Belmont years before. He went to another event trainer with deeper pockets, but it was exciting, and a cool reminder that these horses keep popping up in our lives.
How wonderful for them both! What a sweet story thanks for sharing it with me, it made tears in my eyes.
What a wonderful story!
I know her dream well as it is almost identical to mine. I am so happy for them both. Best wishes in the future to you both your future is bright and together you can live out both of your dreams. I am also thankful for his owner making the best for this horse.
Kristin and Guiness are a true team – what a well written and heart warming story!