Long-bodied, and elegant, Mighty Mariner was absolutely stunning in last place as he trailed the pack of thundering racehorses.
In his first and only race on a Tampa racetrack in January 2011, his trainers had to admit that though he wouldn’t run if his tail were on fire, he sure did cut a fine figure of a racehorse.
And before the dark bay cantered across the finish line, Jimmy Miranda of Rapid Run Training Center pulled out his cell phone to text top-level eventer and part-time racehorse trainer Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch, an unabashed fan of the lovely gelding she had helped train as a two-year-old.
He did not mince words.
“Your horse was beautiful at the back of the track,” Miranda wrote. “When can I drop him off?”
And with that, Mighty Mariner began his second career even before he was unsaddled and put back in his stall.
Renamed Seahawk, as an homage to his Seattle Slew lineage and for the look in his eyes, so keen and smart, that reminded Rhodes-Bosch of the mighty hunting bird, the Maryland-based equestrian, who had scored so well at the 2010 Rolex Three Day, scored again!
Race name: Mighty Mariner
New name: Seahawk
Sire: Chief Seattle
Dam: Miss Atlantis
Foal date: 2008“I first met Mighty Mariner when he was at the barn where I was working. When I was training with David O’Connor on Port Authority, getting ready for Rolex, I spent my mornings exercising Thoroughbreds at Rapid Run Training Center,” she says. “And this is where I met Mighty Mariner.
“He was one of the horses I used to ride everyday, and early on, I remember thinking he had a really good natural balance and a good way of going. He was so cooperative, and just a pleasure to ride.”
The first time they cantered, even though he was still undeveloped and lacking in muscle, she imagined what it might be like to own him.
She made no secret of her desire. And, after she received the text she’d been hoping for, Rhodes-Bosch took in her nonperforming racehorse and promptly put him on vacation.
“I knew he was going to grow like a bad weed after he was done training, so I turned him out, and he spent most of time outside, just growing and growing,” she says, noting that he filled out and grew to 16.3 hands of powerfully pretty horseflesh.
He went into training with an eagerness he had not shown at the track. In 2012, while living in the plains of Virginia, she put him to work schooling at a hilltop farm as if he’d been doing it all his life.
Progressing steadily and easily, he began novice horse trials and started finishing in the upper percentile of competitors. He won a Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Novice Champion Award at Waredacka in October 2012 and was well on his way to even greater heights.
On to Florida for more intensive training in January and February, and up the ladder he climbed. Taking second place at his first training level at the Ocala Horse Properties Winter II, he scored a 24.
From there, he took second at The Fork in North Carolina three months later and won a schooling horse trial at Loch Moy Farm in Maryland soon after.
And so far this year, Seahawk has already put in impressive runs at the Loch Moy Starter Trials in March, where he had clear rides in stadium jumping and cross country, and at The Fork Hunter Trials, where he placed third.
Judging by his early success, Rhodes-Bosch believes that in Seahawk, the woefully untalented racehorse will likely be an eventing star.
A world-class rider who placed fifth at the 2010 Rolex Kentucky Three Day and earned 9th individually, and helped win the Team Silver Medal at the 2010 World Equestrian Games on her OTTB Port Authority, Rhodes-Bosch says her workmanlike new Thoroughbred is a true professional who always gets the job done.
“I’ve had the opportunity to ride some great horses in my life, and I’ve ridden a variety of breeds, from Connemara to Irish sport horses and Warmbloods. I’ve found that the OTTBs are the easiest to train, and right from the start, they come out to do a job,” she says.