For my birthday gift to myself, I booked a horse farm tour in the Kentucky bluegrass with Unbridled Horse Tours. I reasoned I needed to do first-hand research for my current book in the Bluegrass Reunion series—Kentucky Blue Bloods.
Early in September my friend Kathy joined me, and we drove to Midway, Kentucky. We met up with tour guide Nancy (Hap) Hapgood. She’d planned the private tour for us based upon what I wanted to see—broodmare farms and Keeneland. Our tour took place a week before the big September sale at Keeneland, but the horses had not arrived. However, I soaked up the atmosphere of the sales pavilion and the barns.
I felt a special kinship to Monarchos since reading a book by his breeder Jim Squires called Horse Of A Different Color: A Tale of Breeding Geniuses, Dominant Females, and the Fastest Derby Winner Since Secretariat. I’d seen him before when I toured Claiborne Farm several years ago.
Today Monarchos is the only breeding stallion on Nuckols Farm. He has his own stall that opens to his private paddock. He loves peppermints, but is not allowed carrots after collicking a few years ago. He pulled through thanks to surgery and is back on the farm chowing down on feed soaked with a bottle of Guinness Draught. The beer is good for his digestion, which is carefully monitored after his surgery.
Monarchos is white today, not the sleek gray of his racing days. He stood quietly for us to admire him, and we even checked out the surgery scar on his belly. When we drove away, Monarchos was in his pasture doing what horses love to do—grazing in the Kentucky bluegrass.