Thirty-six years ago, the old stallion’s father won the Triple Crown.
That feat of racehorse mastery, much in the news as California Chrome attempts to accomplish what Affirmed did in 1978, threw into sharp contrast the life of the great racehorse’s 24-year-old, little known son.
Last month, an old stud named Perfect sold in a farm dispersal and onto a broker, and was facing an uncertain fate when a team of Thoroughbred advocates stepped in to provide him a retirement befitting the son of Affirmed.
“When I got the call asking if I had the facility and the room to take in an older stud who needed to be retired, I’d never heard of the horse, so I looked him up. When I found out who he was, I said, you know what, I need to help,” says Jim Rhodes, of Equine Rescue of Aiken. “Given the Triple Crown (connection), I consider it a privilege, I really do. Whether we have another Triple Crown or not, and the odds are against California Chrome—I think there have been 20 odd horses who have won the first two legs and been defeated in the Belmont—it takes an exceptional horse to win all three.”
Dam: La Confidence, by Nijinsky II
Foal date: April 15, 1992
Earnings: $121,825, 16 startsAnd what Rhodes sees in Perfect, as the ex-racehorse stretches his legs on the South Carolina sanctuary, is a reflection of greatness that he carries in his blood.
“If you look past the age, you can still see a very athletic animal, a high-bred, very well-bred horse,” Rhodes says. “I am proud to have him, really proud to have him. It makes the whole farm feel good to have him here, and I’ve told several people about him, and they’ve come out to take their picture with him, because they also understand his legacy.”
It’s a legacy not lost on California-based Thoroughbred advocate Deb Jones, who teamed up with Marlene Murray of horse charity R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc. to help ease Perfect back on the right track. Jones contacted Rhodes to ask him to take the stallion, and worked in concert with Murray, who offered the stallion a temporary stall for layup and health checks. Jones praises Murray for “dropping everything” to help the horse—“The R.A.C.E. Fund is not one of those organizations who will turn their back and not help,” Jones says. “Marlene works her butt off and when I told her about Perfect, she immediately offered him a temporary stall, got some weight on him, and took care of everything.”
And now, as Perfect enjoys three meals a day of beet pulp and grain and all the best-cut hay he wants, comes the added thrill of helping a horse with such a powerful legacy.
“I’m out here in California, and naturally I’m rooting for California Chrome to be the next Triple Crown winner,” Jones says. “So I was pretty excited to learn this horse was sired by the last Triple Crown winner.”
It may not have been a perfect trip — from track, to dealer, to rescue — but, in the end, life in his permanent retirement home is richer than any award in the winner’s circle. Just perfect.
Equine Rescue of Aiken is a certified 501 c 3 charity that relies on donations to care for 64 horses, most of them retired ex-racehorses. Those wishing to make a contribution, may do by clicking this hyperlink.