Grade III winner Danthebluegrassman, a 9-year-old son of Pioneeringwho campaigned on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail for owner Michael Pegram and trainer Bob Baffert in 2002 before scratching from the race early Derby morning, has been retired and is headed to Old Friends Equine retirement center near Georgetown, Ky.
He will also serve as the official mascot of the Festival of the Bluegrass at the Kentucky Horse Park June 12-15.
According to Old Friends president Michael Blowen, Danthebluegrassman was shipped in from Delaware Park via complimentary van service from Brookledge and arrived at Alfred Nuckols’ Hurstland Farm near Midway, Ky., March 18. He will remain there about two weeks before moving to Old Friends’ main base at Dream Chase Farm.
“He walked off the truck like a puppy dog,” Blowen said “We led him into a stall and gave him a couple of carrots, and he’s just the sweetest horse with lovely brown eyes. I can’t believe he’s a stallion. He’s going to be huge for us, and we’re very excited to have him here.”
Bred in Kentucky by Ledgelands Farm out of the Grey Dawn II mare Stay With Bruce, Danthebluegrassman won the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields as a 2-year-old and scored a Golden Gate Derby (gr. III) win in his 3-year-old debut. He also won the Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs after tying up the morning before the Kentucky Derby and scratching from that race, which was won by stablemate War Emblem.
Campaigned by Baffert until his 6-year-old season, Danthebluegrassman was claimed by trainer Jack Carava and made two attempts on the turf before Baffert claimed him back at the end of that year. He raced for Baffert until trainer Mike Mitchell made a claim in the middle of his 7-year-old season, then descended the claiming ranks until running for a $7,500 tag at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Feb. 19. He finished sixth in a field of seven.
“One of our supporters, Jim Ponte, loves this horse,” Blowen said. “He was following his progress – or lack thereof – and after his last race said, ‘You have to get this horse.’ Jim made a contribution, another supporter named Tim Ford sent along some money, and before long, we had what we needed to buy him.”
The horse was purchased from R.J. Thoroughbreds for $7,500.
“The former owners were great,” Blowen said. “He was really clean when he arrived, and they’d given him a new halter. It has been a very good arrangement; nobody wanted to keep pushing on a horse whose better days were obviously behind him.”
Bob Cornett of the Festival of the Bluegrass said Danthebluegrassman will be the subject of a song-writing contest and will be the center of a child-geared equine research project to study the effect of music on the physiology of the horse.
“The bluegrass people absolutely love Dan,” said Cornett.