The great Alydar had fathered them both. Yet the noble birthright did little to secure a place in this world for his progeny as the pair of foals grew up and rocketed off toward a future in racing, one to earn millions, the other to fall through the cracks.
The stallion Turkoman and mare Promethia, who were born four days apart nearly 32 years ago, shared a lineage that only went so far. Though Promethia fetched $360,000 at a 2-year-old sale in 1986—a tremendous figure in that day—the filly won only a handful of races before she was retired as a broodmare, and eventually forgotten.
Her brother Turkoman, on the other hand, was a rock star. Named the 1986 Champion Older Horse, he earned more than $2 million on the track before retiring to stud.
Thinking of how far both horses have come, and of the struggles and victories they’ve had, Marlene Murray of equine charity R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc., says she will never forget the amazing brother and sister offspring of Alydar, and their separate but remarkable journeys.
“Both of these horses have such amazing stories. Promethia’s story is so touching, she had to be rescued … and there was a point when nobody could help her. And Turkoman, my God, he’s a huge winner!” Murray says. “These horses, both by Alydar, born four days apart, lived such different lives.”
The horses got onto her radar in May 2011, when Murray learned that Promethia needed help.
Foal date: April 11, 1982
Dam: Her B.
Foal date: April 15, 1982
Earnings: $32,170Discovered at a Kentucky farm, thin and suffering from a serious eye infection that required immediate surgery, Murray quickly joined other Thoroughbred advocates, including Deb Jones of California, to find her into a good home where proper care could be administered.
After searching for an open stall and willing caretakers, Elise Handler of Lexington, Ky., and her fiancé Matthew stepped up and agreed to take in the broodmare who had produced nine live foals in her lifetime.
Immediately after her move to Handler’s farm, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute veterinarians Drs. Jamelyn Kyser and Jill Westerholm performed emergency eye surgery, free of charge, and the old mare came through with flying colors.
“Her eye was so badly infected that vets worried it could rupture,” Murray says. “Elise, who cares for her now, happens to be a vet tech at Hagyard, and she volunteered to take care of her for the two or three months of post-op.”
However, Elise fell in love with the mare, and it was decided that the best place for Promethia to stay was with Elise, where she now has a permanent home.
As Promethia recovered from surgery, Murray reached out through social media to find out if any other Alydar offspring of such a great age were still living. “I thought it was possible we had the oldest living Alydar descendant,” she says, noting that she quickly learned the old mare had a successful brother born four days earlier in April 1982.
While Turkoman had done everything right as a racehorse, earning millions and later retiring to stud at E.A. Ranches in California, he did, for a few months in 2008, suffer a bad patch, says ranch General Manager Marguerite Eliasson.
In July 2008 the old stallion was retired from breeding to another farm, and the change of scenery threw him off his game, Eliasson says.
“He started pacing at his new farm and dropped so much weight that they called me and said they were concerned” for his safety, she says. “I was desperate to bring him back. These old stallions just don’t handle change well, and he was such a phenomenal racehorse that I had to do something.”
Three months later, the ranch made room for him back at the farm, and returned him to his familiar pasture. Eliasson along with a host of other supporters contribute a small monthly donation to defray his costs, so the nearly 32-year-old stallion can trot stiff-legged around his old stomping grounds.
Turkoman and Promethia: both are venerable old Alydar descendants. They took far different paths to arrive in the soft, plush comfort of retirement, but now that they have, it is nothing but peppermints and hugs from here on out.