|Tabby Dacat (Eastwood Dacat-Tabby Lane-Even the Score)|
Eleven months we waited. I watched our big, grey girl get progressively larger as the foal inside of her developed. Life off the track and impending motherhood appeared to have agreed with her. Her eye, chronically soft (off the track) got even deeper as she moved through her pregnancy. She developed a close friendship with another mother to be, Tez Savitri, and the two mares passed their pregnancy together uneventfully in the same pasture for nearly all of their gestation period.
As the time got closer and closer I became amazingly nervous and anxious. Horses have been having foals for thousands of years and Lisa and her team over at Dove Hill Farm and Reproduction are the best but I was perhaps move nervous than I was before I became a father.
Tabby Lane was my mistake. When you get into the business of racing horses, lesson number one is that you don't fall in love with them. Period. Horse isn't winning and you need to drop into the claiming ranks but you're afraid your horse might get claimed? See rule number 1. Not sure what to do when someone offers you a chunk of change for your racehorse? See rule number one. The horses I have had ownership stakes in previously (and since) were great. None of them climbed into my heart like Tabby Lane.
I can't even articulate very well how it happened or when. When I met her in the Canterbury barn for the first time we had owned her for a few months and she was successful for us immediately following the claim at Tampa Bay Downs. She was sweet and kind and just about to start a god-awful losing streak. She could not get untracked at Canterbury and we couldn't figure her out. But I kept visiting her and learned her personality and it seemed she took a liking to me as well. Her favorite activity, aside from rolling, was resting her big forehead on my chest as I rubbed her neck.
In her second season with us we hung out at Tampa Bay Downs together for a morning and we talked. I really needed her to get back on track. I could swear she remembered me but I'm guessing that was just my imagination. Whatever the case, it was GREAT when she dropped her head and rested it on me and I rubbed away!
Her racing career has been well documented here and when we were informed that her ankle was showing some wear and tear but we could race her if we ran her at the bottom, I couldn't do it. I wanted her to have a quality of life when her career was over - not to end up a crippled old racehorse. I took a look at her race record: 25% win percentage and over 50% in the money; earnings just under $120,000; allowance winner; nice (though admittedly not terrific) bloodlines; and thought that if we could find a way to breed her inexpensively (relatively!) we would do it.
Tabby was solid on dirt and turf and had a fondness for 7 furlongs to a mile and 1/16 but lacked a quick turn of foot. It took her a while to get rolling. If there was some speed that could be infused there, this could make for an impressive little runner. Taking advantage of the patience and knowledge of Deb and Jeff Hilger, I decided to send her to Eastwood Dacat, a quick son of Storm Cat who had some hard luck on the track but showed terrific speed before his career was curtailed. I bought a season at the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association's stallion auction and we were set.
Eleven months took forever and got here in no time. Little Tabby Dacat (Heather's brainchild and, if I do say so myself, a terrific name!) is on the ground. He came into this world around 9:15 PM on March 13 in an relatively uneventful delivery. The only issue was after the little guy's hooves and head started to emerge, Tabby had wedged herself near a corner of the stall, blocking off the little colt's exit route! Lisa popped in, helped him shift a little bit and then he emerged.
We've decided that we shall love him, hug him, pet him and nickname him George.
Tabs took to George right away. They nickered at each other and she cleaned him off. He responded in kind and their bonding was heartwarming (the delivery in pictures - good Heather pictures, not my iPhone pictures - will be a not so distant future post). He's a big boy. I don't have his numbers yet but he's a leggy bugger and pretty correct for a newborn.
|Mother and Son about an hour after delivery|
Maybe Tabby will stay in the family or maybe she will be moving on - an offer too good to refuse and I'll be reading rule #1 - but for now, congratulations, girl, on a beautiful little foal who is all hope and promise.