|By Quick, Brandon|
The white four-board fences and rolling pastures make Calumet one of the most idyllic and recognizable landmarks in horse country. Those red gates are full of symbolism and history. As they swing open, the pages of the already well-documented narrative begin to turn. Remnants of success and scandal cloak themselves in the general aesthetics of the place. But on a cold February afternoon, a new chapter from that narrative is being written - the renaissance.
Breeding season is in and that makes Calumet farm manager
What emerges instead is Half-A-Bastard, a crude but oddly affectionate name for Calumet's "teaser" horse. The teaser's job is a thankless one that involves preparing a mare in heat for the duties of the actual stallion. "Half" prances into the breeding shed wearing a strategically placed black apron to prevent him from actually consummating the relationship. His date is with a magnificent-looking gray mare named Inspired Exchange - ironic, I think, because there's nothing particularly inspiring about the impending exchange. The four-year-old great-granddaughter of Northern Dancer and Seeking the Gold is making her initial foray into the adventures of breeding after finishing her race career in October. Half's job today is to "jump" the filly to ensure she reacts accordingly before her appointment with Calumet stallion Oxbow the next morning. Ever the professional and gentleman, Half sniffs her flanks approvingly and raises himself to his hind legs. The mare whinnies in surprise and Kane nods in approval. She'll meet the better-pedigreed Oxbow at sunrise.
It was Oxbow's upset gate-to-wire Preakness victory over Orb last May that signified Calumet's return as a major breeding operation. The farm had been established in 1924 for harness-racing Standardbreds by
It's what happened in the 45 years separating