Forbidden Apple, trainer reunite in retirement

Forbidden Apple and John Evans enjoy their golden years at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation's Ocala, Fla. facility.

Forbidden Apple and John Evans enjoy their golden years at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Ocala, Fla. facility. Photo courtesy John Evans

Looking down upon the Hong Kong paddock from high up in the tiered architectural wonder of the Sha Tin racetrack, John Evans was thunderstruck.

“It was just so beautiful,” recalls the longtime race trainer. “There must have been 300 gardeners and everywhere you looked there were flowers. It was dazzling!”

And the dark bay, nearly black racehorse, Forbidden Apple, equally dazzling, and on whose coattails he had ridden halfway around the world for a shot at glory on the international stage and a $4 million purse, still gives the trainer-turned Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation barn manager something to smile about.

To this day, Evans is convinced that Apple could have won the big race on Dec. 17, 2000, and added to his $1.6 million lifetime earnings, and string of accolades, including three-time Champion Turf Horse and one-time Horse of the Year.

Forbidden Apple
Sire: Pleasant Colony
Dam: North of Eden (IRE), by Northfields
Foal date: May 31, 1995
Earnings: $1.6 million, 31 starts
Class: Multiple graded stakes winner
“He was 10 lengths ahead when he went around the backside,” Evans recalls. “But I think his instructions were to be taken back … and it took a lot out of him to be wrestled back to fourth or fifth to save him for a powerful finish.” He finished 4th that day, but in Evans’ heart, Apple was the true winner.

Evans worked with Forbidden Apple for six years, breaking him as a 2-year-old while in the employ of Bridlewood Farm, and overseeing his life at the farm. At age 3, Apple was sent to work with racing trainer Christopher Clement, and in 1998 he began his 31-start career filled with big wins and glory.

“His peak year was 2001. He went out and won the Manhattan Handicap and in the same year he won the Kelso Handicap,” Evans says. “He was champion Turf Horse three years running and Horse of the Year one Year. He had a beautiful stride, and he was really all class. He never gave us a bit of trouble, he never even bucked, and after a month of training he galloped like a pro.”

Forbidden Apple in his heyday wins the Kelso Handicap. Photo by and courtesy of Adam Coglianese

Forbidden Apple in his heyday wins the Kelso Handicap. Photo by and courtesy of Adam Coglianese

Evans left Bridlewood Farm to work as a racing steward in Kentucky and Texas before accepting a position as the barn manager of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Ocala, Fla. facility, and a horsemanship instructor for the Lowell Correctional Institution.

In the years that passed, Evans thought less and less about the dark bay racehorse until two years ago, when the memories of the handsome racehorse came flooding back. “I got a call from the (new owners) of Bridlewood. They weren’t breeding Forbidden Apple anymore, and they asked if I’d take him.”

His answer was in the affirmative and was as quick as the great old racehorse had been on the track.

At age 20, Forbidden Apple now has permanent sanctuary with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, under the care of the man who first trained him. “I spend time with him everyday,” Evans says. “I go and pet him on the head and tell him how pretty he is, and that I’m glad he’s here.”

10 responses to “Forbidden Apple, trainer reunite in retirement”

  1. john

    Wonderful story and nice photo!

  2. Virendra

    I suggest retirement beniffits for both the horse & the trainers. Equestrian federation of the world must pay more attention on the retirement beniffits of through breed horses & other breeds of horses to promote the sports.

    With regards from,
    —–Virendra Dimri.

  3. Sarah McCarthy

    I’ll bet he could still produce stunning sport horses. Those Pleasant Colony horses are good jumpers.

  4. Denise Sheehan

    What a Fantastic story. Mr.Evans is a true angel.

  5. Ruthanne Lillis

    I wonder whether anyone remembers the Appleton race horse Apturn from the mid-late 70s? I worked with him and absolutely loved that horse. It broke my heart when I had to move and leave him.

  6. Marilyn

    Beautiful…as it should be. Such a nice read this morning. Enjoy your days together, gentlemen.

  7. colmel

    God bless owners like those at Bridlewood and gentlemen like Mr. Evans who understand how much these horses give of themselves. So terrifically glad to learn that Apple has had a soft landing and that those who loved him then are still there to love and care for him now.

  8. Leslie M. Bliman-Kuretzky

    Such a wonderful story

  9. Anne

    I remember Forbidden Apple and always wondered what became of him. Thankfully the new owners of Bridlewood did the right thing and called Mr. Evans to give him a chance at placing him in his Ocala facility. Forbidden Apple deserved a place to retire and enjoy the rest of his days without worry with his old friend.

  10. jean lamb smith

    I love the happy ending. They were meant to end up together…

Leave a Reply