Madison Scott had never watched a Thoroughbred horse race prior to June 5, 2004. But on the morning of that day, her father called to tell her that she should tune in to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), where Smarty Jones was attempting to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win racing’s Triple Crown.
At the time, the Triple Crown didn’t mean anything to her, and, in fact, Scott had barely even heard of Smarty Jones prior to that day. However, she decided to watch anyway, and as it turned out, that decision changed her life.
Despite losing to Birdstone in heartbreaking fashion, Smarty Jones touched Scott’s heart. And from that point on she became “Smarty’s No. 1 Fan,” an unofficial title that became official July 6 when Three Chimneys Farm and Smarty’s owner, Pat Chapman, arranged for the 15-year-old Scott to fly in from her home in Austin, Texas, to spend a week with her favorite horse.
How did Scott, a sophomore at Westlake High School, sum up her trip to Lexington? “It was the highlight of my life,” she said.
Though Scott and the rest of the world never got to see Smarty race again after the Belmont, her fascination with the Elusive Quality colt was just beginning. According to her, there was something “mysterious” about Smarty that persuaded her to learn everything she could about him. From that day forward she read everything she could about Smarty—old newspaper articles, anything she could find on the Internet, books written about the dual-classic winner, and even started a subscription to The Blood-Horse. She then began writing letters to Three Chimneys, which ignited her relationship with Chapman.
“I wrote a lot of letters to Three Chimneys, but one of them was right after they announced that Big Brown would be (standing) there,” Scott said. “I pleaded with them not to take Smarty out of his stall, which was Seattle Slew’s old stall, even if Big Brown won the Triple Crown. Ann Hayes (Three Chimneys tour director), thought the letter was hilarious and showed it to Mrs. Chapman. Mrs. Chapman wrote me back and from then on we started exchanging letters and phone calls. She started sending me Smarty memorabilia, like stacking dolls, trading cards, a book, and even a lock of his mane.”
Last year Scott also began taking a huge interest in Smarty’s offspring that had hit the racetrack, and she claims to have followed the progress of every one. After learning about this, Chapman was convinced Scott was indeed Smarty’s No. 1 fan. A few months ago she contacted Three Chimneys and arranged for the Scott family to come to Lexington.
On the first day of her trip, Scott was given a private tour of Three Chimneys, where she got to meet all of the farm’s stallions, and Chapman, who had flown in from her home in Philadelphia.
“I absolutely fell in love with Madison from the start,” Chapman said. “She is a fabulous young lady who just hooked me with her love of Smarty. Believe me, there are a lot of big Smarty fans, but her knowledge of him has just amazed me. She knows a lot more about racing than I’ll ever know! I get all of my updates from her.
“To finally meet her was fabulous. It was a great couple of days with her.”
The meeting with Smarty and Chapman were the highlights for Scott.
“I got to pet Smarty and feed him peppermints,” Scott beamed. “It was amazing. I’ll never forget it. And Mrs. Chapman was so nice. I can’t thank her and all the people at Three Chimneys enough.”
During her week-long trip Scott also got to meet several of Smarty’s offspring, as well as take tours of other local farms, Keeneland, the Kentucky Horse Park, and much more. Though her love for Smarty was what initially brought her to Lexington, it has gone well beyond that now.
“I fell in love with Lexington,” Scott said. “I want to move there. I can’t imagine living anywhere else now. I want to go to college to learn about horses and work in the industry.”