Alydar, the famous Calumet Farms stallion who won nearly a million dollars, and fathered successful offspring, lives on in his 26-year-old daughter, Train Robbery, a talent in her own right who stands in Martha Murdock’s paddock like a faded flag of bygone nobility.
Now, looking into her large, liquid eyes Murdock sees back in time, to when D. Wayne Lukas trained the very best, and great farms like Calumet and Overbrook produced exquisite racehorses. To think of it now still gives her goose bumps.
“When I look at Train Robbery, I see all of that. I see the heyday or horse racing,” says Murdock, a well-known horseman specializing in Warmbloods and Arabians, but for whom the American Thoroughbred is the living end.
“In Train Robbery’s pedigree, it reads like a Who’s Who. I think there’s seven Derby winners there —her pedigree is like a history book.”
No slouch herself, Train Robbery earned $622,000 on the track before becoming a broodmare to such notable offspring as Cat Thief, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
After the flashy mare retired from racing, she lived on for many wonderful years at Overbrook Farm, with her original owners, until the death of Overbrook Farm’s founder and owner William T. Young, in 2009.
Race name: Train Robbery
Dam: Track Robbery, by No Robbery
Foal date: Feb. 12, 1987
Earnings: $622, 128, in 44 startsThat’s when Murdock received a phone call.
Train Robbery needed a new home.
The farm was letting go of its blood stock in a dispersal sale, and the beautiful mare, for whom Murdock had long had a soft spot, was to be hers.
“My ex-husband Mark Wharton worked for Overbrook Farm for many years, and I used to take guests over to visit the farm,” she says, noting that she often made sure she paid a visit to Train Robbery.
When her ex-husband called to offer her Train Robbery, he gave her two hours to think about it, but in two heartbeats, he had his answer.
“When I got her, she hadn’t been off the farm in 17 years,” Murdock recalls. “She was so dislocated that it took her three weeks to eat. She would graze, but she wouldn’t eat her feed, and I was almost to the point of calling Mark back and telling him he had to take her back—she was miserable—but then she finally ate. And she’s been eating ever since!”
She is Murdock’s most prized horse.
Although the gifted equestrian has made her career in the show horse world of Arabians and Warmbloods — she oversees Martha Murdock Stables and has judged such prestigious shows as the U.S. and Canada Nationals, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, and many others— this regal American Thoroughbred is the one who stole her heart.
“Every morning when I walk through the door, and she puts her head out to greet me, it’s like a blessing. She is the light of my life, and to see her standing there is enough to make my day.”
Perfectly formed, and without a blemish on her, the “bright copper penny” of a mare is such a picture of equine perfection that Murdock entered her in an American Warmblood Inspection (a conformation contest that is not breed specific) when she was 23 years old.
“And two years ago, I got a package from the American Warmblood Society letting me know she had won the Older Mare of the Year for the American Warmblood Society,” she adds. “I started to cry right there.”
To the last of her days, Train Robbery will hold a place of high honor in Murdock’s Kentucky stable as one of the greats. Born of a great era in racing, she reminds the longtime horseman of those glory days, long past.