Though Fast Market toiled in relative obscurity on the racetracks of Canada and the U.S., logging 144 starts with not much to show, the oldest living son of Secretariat was never forgotten by those who knew him in his heyday, not even after 25 years.
The bright chestnut gelding with four white feet, once famous for bucking off riders, and the inevitable “loose horse!” announcement that followed, has recently come blasting back into the life of his erstwhile jockey. A horse so loved that when the old jock saw the picture of a horse he assumed had perished long ago, he went diving for his phone and into the past.
Barn name: Markie
Dam: That’s Ten, by Cyane
Foal date: Feb. 4, 1986
Starts: 144Eldridge Lindsey saw the photo of the feisty gelding he rode in the early 1990s on Facebook two months ago, when a birthday announcement came with happy news that the 29-year-old gelding was alive and very well indeed. Immediately recognizing his long-lost friend, Lindsey tracked down the phone number for the gelding’s retirement home and made plans to reunite with the horse.
Beverlee Dee, executive director of Bright Futures Farm in Pennsylvania, where Fast Market lives, says she was astonished to learn that the quirky gelding she has owned since 2006 was so adored, and was such a handful in his heyday. And that after all these years his memory still burns bright.
“Getting that phone call was a wow-moment for me,” says Dee. “To think someone who never heard of us before took the time to find our phone number and make the call about a horse who obviously touched him … that spoke volumes to me about how much Markie had an impact on him.”
By the time horse and rider first met, Fast Market already had something of a reputation on the track, Dee says. Known to dump his riders when it pleased him, Markie was happily running loose at the track on the very day young Lindsey happened to stop by. The young jockey was asked to go fetch the horse, and soon after, the pair became friends, Dee says.
Lindsey started riding Markie in the races, and after work, would sneak the hungry horse all manner of junk food, including jerk chicken and doughnuts!
Though Markie can’t eat at age 29 like he did as a kid—it’s mostly senior feed, carrots and peppermints for him now— he still has spunk. Once a racehorse known to lie down on the track with his rider in the saddle, he’s advanced to tail pulling of his herd mates, and a truly spectacular run-drop-roll display at dinner, Dee says.
“He likes to bite the tails of other horses and hold on. They can walk away, but he’ll just follow, still holding on! It’s his game,” she says. “And, he always has a roll before dinner. When he comes out of the pasture, he takes off in that sideways racehorse lope with his head and body twisted to the left; then does almost a sliding stop, drops and rolls. He does this every night.”
If racing riches were made on personality and not speed, Fast Market would have rivaled Secretariat.
“I think most people who have never met Fast Market fall in love with him because of who his sire was,” Dee says. “People who have met him love him because of his quirky personality.”