“I will never forget seeing this gelding walk out of the stall for the first time. He was huge! Legs that went on forever,” Dr. Reed Zimmer told me.
Zimmer lives and works in Phoenix, Ariz. He looks at hundreds of race horses every year. At Turf Paradise there are a thousand to look at. This one, he thought, was special.
It was January of 2015 when he heard that this one particular horse might be for sale. So he wandered over during some downtime that afternoon. He didn’t rush over, but he also didn’t leave it until the next day. As the horse came out, Zimmer’s smile betrayed his excitement.
Before the horse had taken 10 steps he said, “I’ll take him.”
“You don’t know how much I’m asking.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll take him.”
The trainer just shook his head. “Well then, I guess you will.”
Zimmer then called his girlfriend, Kara Toye, and told her, “I’ve never seen a Thoroughbred move like this.”
Toye, of course, took that with a grain of salt. Her boyfriend is “a cowboy.” He is from Texas. “His first true love is Quarter Horses, then race horses.” So maybe he doesn’t know what will make a good jumping horse. So she kept asking him questions.
Exasperated, he finally told her: “Just come over here; I’ll jog him for you.”
It was her first experience having a vet jog a horse for her, instead of the other way around. She took the horse from him and led him over to her father’s barn at the track. (Her parents are both race horse trainers.) It crossed their mind to run him again, but they quickly decided against it.
The horse they were looking at was Mr. Pleasantree. Pleasantree is a horse easily remembered. He is calm most of the time, and tall all the time. He is a 5-year-old chestnut gelding.
Mr. Pleasantree ran 20 races, and he won four. The new owners had seen him race a couple times, but they figured he was pretty much over racing at that point. “If he ran on turf, I’m pretty sure he would rather have stopped and had a snack.”
Mr. Pleasantree’s father certainly ran his share of races. Pleasantly Perfect.
Pleasantly Perfect is an American racing legend. Born in 1998. He won the Breeders Cup Classic in 2003. He won the world’s richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, in 2004. In 2005 he retired as the fourth richest American horse in career earnings.
Pleasantly Perfect was born in Kentucky, raced many times in Kentucky, and then he stood at stud in Kentucky. Last year he was sold to Turkish interests, and as of 2015 he will stand at stud at the Turkish National Stud.
Mr. Pleasantree’s mum? Spare That Tree.
I don’t know much about her, but at least we can see how they came up with the name Mr. Pleasantree.
So instead of racing Pleasantree, Toye started riding him. He was her only project at the time, and she loved having him close, so she left him at the track. She would ride him around the backside after training hours. The two of them would sneak out to an adjoining round pen and arena that used to be the home of the Phoenix mounted police detail.
They also hauled out for lessons. They ponied a 3-year-old filly around. They trail rode in the desert. He stood tied to the trailer.
“He never faltered once. Except at the cows…”
In the end they did sell him, but it wasn’t an easy choice. Toye has since sent me photos, and it is obvious how much she liked him.
Mr. Pleasantree went through a series of names and nicknames before he ended up in my barn as Remarkable 54. Redwood, for his rich chestnut coat. Ricky, short for Redwood. Froggy, because of the two bumps on his forehead from an unusual joining of bone plates in the skull. And finally Remarkable 54.
Remarkable is what we call him. A few people tried to call him Mark, but it didn’t stick. Because of my belief that he can do no wrong, a few clients call him, in jest, Mr. Wonderful.
When I reached out to Toye and Zimmer they admitted it was tough to sell him. He was such a lovable horse.
“He’s never met a stranger,” Zimmer said.
“I am so proud of what he has become,” Zimmer continued. “It is cool to see how many lives he has touched in less than a year. Thoroughbreds are very versatile animals as we all know, but most are judged by their performance on the track. It’s my opinion that he was a jumper from birth; he just needed someone to realize it. I do think he had fun on the track and was treated like royalty, like all race horses are, but after getting his chance to do what he was truly born to do he has became royalty in his own right. Even if it is Canadian royalty.”
This horse has travelled a lot. He has been called by many names. One thing he has never been called is forgettable.
The Retired Racehorse Project is putting on the Thoroughbred Makeover competition for the second year in a row. You can vote for Tik Maynard and Remarkable for the 2015 Thoroughbred Ambassador Award here: www.retiredracehorseproject.org/2015-ambassador-award.
Tik Maynard grew up in Vancouver, Canada. He’s the son of a grand prix show jumper and a Grand Prix dressage rider. He competed in Pony Club games as a child and went to the Pan American Games and World Championships in modern pentathlon. After spending three years as a working student all over the world for some of the sport’s biggest names, he now focuses on eventing and natural horsemanship. He’s based in New Jersey along with his wife, four-star eventer Sinead Halpin, who also blogs for the Chronicle.