The Ferdinand family line will live on thanks to U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky) who has purchased three daughters of the late Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner and champion. Ferdinand died sometime in 2002, most likely in a slaughterhouse in Japan, following an unsuccessful career at stud.
Rep. Whitfield, along with his wife, Connie, vice-chairman of the newly created Kentucky Racing Authority, purchased Flagstone Ferdie, out of the Secretariat mare Secretariat Flag, for $1,300 at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale. The mare was the property of the late John Franks and was consigned by Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency as part of the Franks reduction.
They also privately acquired Ferdinand's Image, out of the Dancer's Image mare Manilta, and Isabella Isabella, out of the High Echelon mare Crimson Echo.
"This whole thing started because of Ferdinand," Connie Whitfield said. "We are doing this in Ferdinand's memory as a way to honor him."
Flagstone Ferdie is being shipped to Desi Keck's farm in California. Keck's former father-in-law, Howard Keck Sr., campaigned Ferdinand. Early plans call for Flagstone Ferdie to be bred.
Ferdiand's Image and Isabella Isabella are both at December Farm near Midway, Ky., where early plans call for the pair to be bred to Kentucky stallions.
"These mares are not being bred to have foals to race," Connie Whitfield said. "They are being bred as a way to carry on the Ferdinand family line."
The Whitfields said they were friends of the Keck family and wanted to purchase the mares as a way to honor the late champion.
"One of the stipulations of this is that one of the mares be given to Old Friends (the Kentucky-based operation that aspires to give the pubic access to retired notable Thoroughbreds)," Rep. Whitfield said. "Mr. (Howard) Keck (Jr.) will end up with a mare and a foal and Old Friends will end up with a mare and foal."
Rep. Whitfield said he and his wife are very interested in the horse industry and are looking to become more involved.
"We like horses and all animals," Rep. Whitfield said. "The horse industry is so important to the state of Kentucky, I think we are very much interested in becoming more involved."