There were 32,117 Thoroughbreds born in the United States in 1997. And that means there were tens of thousands of people who bred, owned or cared for these foals as they hit the ground. These horsemen watched each colt or filly enter the world and struggle to stand for the first time. And, no doubt, as they observed these youngsters find their legs, these horsemen wondered, “Will this be a Triple Crown winner, a Breeders’ Cup champion or Eclipse Award winner?”
These thoughts are certainly not unfounded, as each year one foal is born who will win the Derby in three years’ time. But it’s only one foal among tens of thousands, so these dreams of glory are often just that, dreams.
Nevertheless, in 1997 a bay colt was born in Kentucky who stands out among his peers. Even though he most likely didn’t fulfill the exact vision breeders Richard and Nathan Fox and Richard Kaster had for him–the horse never made it to the Derby and didn’t even win a stakes race on the flat–he’s made a name for himself in racing. In fact, this year he even earned his third Eclipse Award, an accomplishment that even the most optimistic breeder wouldn’t imagine as he leaned over the fence rail and watched his foals cavort in lush green Kentucky fields.
But McDynamo is a special horse, and writer Erin Richards takes us on a journey to get to know the noble gelding who’s rewritten the record books in steeplechasing (see p. 8). McDynamo is so highly regarded in his field that he’s even developed a huge fan base who follow his racing accomplishments closely and consider his five-year steeplechasing career a “McDynasty.” At last month’s Eclipse Awards, McDynamo absolutely dominated his peers, taking 239 of the votes cast to Sur La Tete’s 6 and Hirapour’s 2. In 2006 the Dynaformer son also won his fourth Breeders’ Cup steeplechase and third Colonial Cup (S.C.) and raced to more than $1.1 million in earnings.
McDynamo wouldn’t be where he is today, though, without owner Michael Moran and trainer Sanna Hendriks. They’ve believed in his talent, nurtured his idiosyncrasies and have dedicated themselves to his career throughout the highs and lows of the sport, including injuries and illnesses.
Breeding Thoroughbreds is a tough business, and it’s only getting tougher. Over the past 15 years, flat racing has lost 20,407 races and now features about 52,000 races annually. So, each Thoroughbred born into the sport has fewer opportunities to shine. And that’s why it’s so gratifying to read a story such as McDynamo’s. Even though McDynamo didn’t find his glory on the flat track, his owner found another niche for him, one where he could find his true calling.
In 2006, McDynamo passed Hall of Famer Lonesome Glory on the all-time career earnings list for U.S. steeplechasers. And when McDynamo’s connections believe he’s ready to retire, no doubt there will be a place reserved for him in the Hall of Fame too.
So, this spring as the new crop of Thoroughbreds is born, breeders will once again dream of achieving their ultimate goals–and I hope that some of those colts and fillies that don’t make their names on the track will, like McDynamo, make someone else’s dreams come true farther down the road.