Icabad Crane, third-place finisher in the 2008 Preakness, continues to travel in world-class sporting company.
The classy gelding belonging to Graham Motion, trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, and his wife Anita, is now training—and winning—under the gentle hands and expert prowess of Olympian Phillip Dutton.
Last month, Dutton and Icabad grabbed first place at the Aiken’s Full Gallop Farm Horse Trials, finishing the Beginner Novice C Division with a score of 32.10.
Though it’s too soon to say if Icabad has the right stuff to be a big horse in the Eventing world, the Motions spoke with tremendous pride of the accomplishments their beloved New York-bred bay gelding has made thus far.
Sire: Jump Start
Foal date: April 9, 2005
Highlights: Multiple Graded Stakes placed, winner; 3rd Preakness —2008
Earnings: $585,980 “He’s been a very quick learner,” Graham Motion says in a telephone interview with Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com. “He stepped off the van and took in his first small horse show in stride.”
Anita Motion, who her husband credits as being the driving force to take on the responsibility for Icabad’s post-racing future, says Icabad had a face she saw everyday, and came to love.
“His was one of those faces we’d see over the door, and we’d see him a lot. We’ve worked with him for six years, and he was just lovely; he’s the one everyone wanted to go and pat,” she says. “We always told Earle Mack’s managers that we’d love to have him when he was done. We didn’t want to lose track of him.”
The couple purchased Icabad from Mack in 2013 for $1, according to published reports, and introduced the classy bay to the world-class rider, and family friend, shortly thereafter.
“Phillip’s an extremely talented horseman,” Graham Motion says. “We’d sent several horses to him already, but they didn’t work out. But this horse has a tremendous disposition and is a barn favorite—he’s the kind of horse (exercise riders) would fight over to ride in the morning.”
On top of which, Icabad also exhibited class and intelligence, adds Anita Motion.
“He is so honest. He tries his hardest and he’s so intelligent that he just has that smart look about him,” she says.
Following Icabad’s promising start in Eventing, the couple and the Dutton family will continue to monitor his progress, and reassess in a year’s time. “We always said that with Icabad that we do this for 12 months and then we’d regroup,” Anita Motion says. “If he wasn’t enjoying it, we’d stop.”
Regardless of how Icabad does in his new sport, the Motions will continue to push to create partnerships between race trainers and the Thoroughbred community seeking to help ex-racehorses.
Citing the work of Steuart Pittman, founder of the Retired Racehorse Training Project, Anita Motion says she and her husband plan to add their efforts to the good work already taking place by Pittman and other organizations seeking to re-train Thoroughbreds for new careers.
“We want to find other people that are professionals in dressage, polo, and other sport to promote these horses,” she says.
Graham Motion agrees.
“There are a lot of people doing a lot of good things for horses, and we want to be part of that movement,” he says.
While not all Thoroughbreds off the track are gifted enough to enter training with dual Olympic gold medalist Dutton, this particular off-track Thoroughbred is “pretty unique,” Dutton says in a telephone interview.
“His disposition is very, very settled and quiet. He’s a forward-thinking horse who doesn’t get too wound up,” Dutton says. “He’s very easy to work with.”
Dutton started training Icabad in December. “He’s been a pretty quick study,” he notes.
With one win under their belts, Dutton plans to enter Icabad in another Beginner Novice Event this summer, before moving him up to Novice, and beyond.