On June 5, 2004, having just reached my 10th birthday, I watched the 2004 Belmont Stakes. Undefeated, famed Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones was making his run at history, attempting to become the first horse in 25 years to claim racing’s biggest prize, the Triple Crown. He came heartbreakingly close.
The 2004 Belmont was the first race I ever viewed. I fell head over heels for the chestnut colt, and became a fan of horse racing for life.
From then on, I devoured all the knowledge I could about Smarty Jones and the Sport of Kings, catching every racing telecasts and dissecting each newspaper article I came across. In August 2004, Smarty was retired, and I began sending fan mail.
I wrote dozens of letters to Three Chimneys Farm, Smarty’s new home, drew pictures, composed songs and emails, and sent them all to Smarty. By the time his 2-year-olds hit the track for the first time in the summer of 2008, I started sending weekly updates about his foals running across the globe. Impressed by the amount of knowledge a 14-year-old teenage girl from Texas had about racing, the people at Three Chimneys contacted Patricia Chapman, Smarty’s owner, in regards to me.
Chapman and I began corresponding on a regular basis. In March, Three Chimneys and Chapman invited me on a trip to meet Smarty and his owner. And in July of 2009, I met Smarty and spent the best week of my life on a VIP trip through the Bluegrass, exploring Kentucky’s Thoroughbred breeding industry with some of the top people in the business. And that's were Mad for Smarty came into the picture.
During my time at Three Chimneys, owner Robert Clay mentioned that he had a Smarty Jones 2yo who needed to be named. Wanting to honor Smarty's many fans but also tie the name to myself, my mom suggested calling the 2007 Smarty Jones x Santaria colt Mad for Smarty. The name connected myself to the horse (Mad for Madison) but also was a great way to think of all of Smarty Jones' many fans who truly were mad for him. Mr. Clay liked the name and submitted it to the Jockey Club. Within a few days, Mad for Smarty had officially been given his name. My trip to Kentucky was a dream come true, helping to name a Smarty Jones foal was just icing on the cake.
I follow all of the offspring of Smarty Jones closely, watching replays and keeping notes on each one. Even without the ties I had to Mad for Smarty, I would have still watched his racing career. But I tracked him more intensely than the other Smarty Jones offspring, saving workout notifications and recording his races. He was certainly a decent racehorse - earning his keep at the track, and running in a few stakes and graded stakes races. In September of 2011, Mad for Smarty was retired from racing due to a slight tear in a ligament and taken back to his birthplace, Three Chimneys Farm.
It wasn't until mid-December that my mom received a phone call from the farm. Mad for Smarty was retired from the track and gelded, ready to begin a new phase of his life as a riding horse. The wonderful people at Three Chimneys were kind enough to think of me in finding a new home for Mad for Smarty. Of course, we accepted. I had been waiting most of my life to have a horse of my own, and never imagined that I would become a horse owner so soon. And not just the owner of any horse, but Mad for Smarty! For several years now, it had been a dream of mine to one day take one of Smarty Jones' foals off the track and transition them into a riding horse of my own. I'm forever grateful to Three Chimneys for making this become realized so early in my life, and for taking such fantastic care of their horses once they leave their racing careers.
There is so much more to come! I have a multitude of family and friends that would love to follow me, this horse and our growth throughout the retraining process. That is what inspired me to start this blog. Plus, things like this don't happen to everyone, and life-long aspirations aren't typically realized so early in life. I want to record every detail of out time together for myself, too. I am truly blessed!