Until We Meet Again

Written by Maggie Kimmitt on June 28, 2017

We begin this day with the heaviest hearts, so saddened to have to share this news. Our gallant, beloved Better Talk Now was euthanized late last evening at New Bolton Center. Complications from intestinal surgery had become too much to overcome.

Blackie came to Fair Hill as a 3-year-old in 2002 and never left us. The ensuing years literally catapulted Graham into the international spotlight – Blackie’s stunning upset in the 2004 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf-G1 at Lone Star Park remains one of the most talked-about runnings in the race’s history. He took Team Herringswell to Tokyo for the Japan Cup-G1 in 2005, and to Nad Al Sheba for the Dubai Sheema Classic-G1 in 2008.

He and Ramon Dominguez were nearly invincible together. Carrying the blue and white silks of Brent Johnson, Karl Barth and Chris Dwyer’s Bushwood Stables, the pair won four other Grade 1 turf classics. Remarkably, they also competed in five consecutive renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Turf from 2004 through 2008.

By the time his career ended at age 10 in 2009, the Kentucky-bred son of Talkin Man – Bendita (by Baldski) had recorded stats of 51-14-8-5 and earned $4,356,664.

Owner Brent Johnson asked us to share the following statement:

“Bushwood Stables is sad to announce that Better Talk Now was euthanized June 27 at age 18 due to complications from colic. He displayed the same toughness fighting his final battle as he did when showing his special talents on the track that won him so many fans in the racing world.

We would like to thank New Bolton Center, and especially Dr. Janet Johnston, for their dedication and care of Better Talk Now over these past few weeks. We are confident he was in great hands and that his well-being was always the number one priority during this difficult time.

We would also like to thank Graham and Anita Motion and all the people at Herringswell Stables for the unsurpassed care Better Talk Now received in his retirement. We cannot express how grateful we are that they wanted to keep Blackie with them when his racing days ended He truly had a wonderful retirement, although we all wish it could have lasted a bit longer.

Finally, we want to thank Better Talk Now for giving us and our families some of the greatest and most joyous experiences of our lives. It was truly a gift to be associated with such an amazing equine athlete and to enjoy an incredible eight racing seasons watching his talent flourish. He took us places few ever get to go, and we will be forever grateful to have had him in our lives.”

A small group of us spent last evening with Blackie, and Ramon and his wife Sharon joined us via Facetime. Both of Blackie’s regular exercise riders, Fenella O’Flynn and Lisa Davison, were there with him as well. So many stories were shared. There were a great many tears shed, but just as many smiles. What a character he was – willful, opinionated, often cantankerous. But always a star, and he knew it. It was Blackie’s way or the highway. He mellowed a bit in retirement and never failed to realize when visitors had come especially to see him. And come they did; his following was huge and fiercely loyal.

His passing, just like his presence, leaves a massive impact. We’ll miss seeing that black coat gleaming in the sun in the paddock he shared with his best buddy Gala Spinaway. We’ll miss stopping to stuff them both full of peppermints whenever we passed by. We’ll miss having a champion of his magnitude in our daily lives. But what a trip it’s been.

We are forever thankful for Blackie, and for those of you who took him into your hearts as we did. Rest assured that his last hours were spent completely surrounded by love and comfort. In the end, however, Blackie himself told us it was time. He fought the good fight. He knew how much he meant to us, and we know how much he meant to all of you.

Sleep well, Blackie. It was an honor.


The 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf:




52 comments on “Until We Meet Again

  1. Condolences to all at Herringswell and Bushwood. Blackie was a spectacular talent and brought something special to the sport. He had a great life and will be missed.

  2. Beautiful tribute. I wish all, whether animal or human, could have such a passing, surrounded by loving, caring, thankful people.

    1. Aw so sorry to hear this , condolences to all at Herringswell Stables and especially to my sister Fenella O ‘ Flynn who loved ‘ Blackie ‘ ??????

  3. RIP to this Gorgeous, Stunning and downright Magnificent Horse. I will never forget him, he was such an amazing racehorse. 🙁

  4. My friend Laura Horah and I will miss him…we loved to spoil both him and Gala with mints… thank you all at Herringswell for taking such good care of him and also to NBC for trying their best to make him better…run free Blackie❤️

  5. Beautifully written about an amazing horse, trained and cared for by the top horse people in this country; start to finish.

    Our condolences to all connected–which is so many it amazes me. Never seizes to amaze me how these horses touch so many lives. We are lucky people to experience their grace.

  6. What a moving post. My friend Elaine and I were two of his loyal visitors. He always ran to us when he heard those peppermint wrappers crinkling. So true that he knew he was a star but that’s what we loved about him! My heart goes out to everyone at Brushwood and Herringswell. Gala is going to miss him too I am sure. RIP Blackie.

  7. Such magnificence in a horse. Better Talk Now. You will be missed by so many of us and everyone is so grateful for the special life you had in retirement with Herringswell, Graham Motion and all of his staff. You were so well-loved through the years. Rest well, beautiful one.

  8. So incredibly sad and yet such a wonderful life! God bless you all and strength and prayers for all of you! Run on through butterfly fields and sunshine every day, great one!

  9. Im just sickened by this. He was so cantankerous i thought hed overcome again. I remember when he first got sick years ago and that reflux and astounded everyone. He reminded me of John Henry in personality. RIP Blackie. Uve watched racing for 63 years and you were one of my all time favorites. Godspeed and thanks for the memories.

  10. To Graham and all my heart goes out to you. Blackie was a special horse, but he was surrounded by amazing humans who loved and cared for him. His passing has left a hole in your hearts, but you have your memories, continue to love him through them. God Bless Better Talk Now and his humans.

  11. What a beautiful tribute to this champion, who I fell in love with during his racing years. I ordered photos of him and collected articles written about him. He was my hero. My deepest condolences to the Motions, to Fenella and Lisa, to Ramon and his wife, to Gala Spinaway and to all who loved Blackie, cared for him and knew him best. I share your grief, while admiring your courage in seeing a spirit you loved right through to the end. Abigail from Montreal, Canada

  12. Maggie, I meant to mention you too. Thank you for all the stunning photos and videos. You helped me stay close to Blackie and I loved seeing him with his best buddy, Gala Spinaway. It must have been so hard to write this but you rose above to create an exquisite memorial to your boy. I send you virtual hugs, Abigail

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Abigail; very much appreciated. And this was indeed so hard to write. It’s been an emotional day for all of us, but we are buoyed by the outpouring of kindness from Blackie’s countless fans. We’re truly grateful to all of you.

  13. I had the privilege of working around this wonderful horse. My condolences to all those who knew and loved him. RIP BTN

  14. My heart goes out to all of you as I sit here feeling such sadness even though I never actually got to meet him, but I have been a devoted follower and loved him from afar. I have been so grateful that updates were continued and shared. Thank you.

  15. My condolences to the whole team on the loss, it will feel so strange visiting without seeing his beautiful face.

  16. What a moving post. My friend Elaine and I were two of his main “groupies”. Gosh we loved seeing him. He would run to us when he heard the peppermint wrappers crinkling – and then promptly discard us the second the mint supply was gone. He definitely knew he was a star and we were just lucky he allowed us an audience with him. This one really hits hard. My heart goes out to Brushwood and everyone at Herringswell who took such amazing care of this great guy. Hoping Gala will be okay with his best buddy. RIP Blackie.

  17. Beautiful tribute, Maggie. I am so sad, sending my condolences to all of you who knew and loved him and to all of his many fans.

  18. Sincerest condolences to all of Blackie’s family, most especially to his BFF, Gala. He was so loved! Hope he sends those he loved a sign that he is now well in spirit, enjoying lush pastures with all the gates left open.

  19. I’m very sorry for the loss of Blackie. Nothing I can say will make it better but know you are no alone with your grief. Rest In Peace ?

  20. Well dammit! Was having a pretty good day. Now I’m in tears (even though Fenella hinted Blackie wasn’t doing well on Saturday when I saw her at Laurel). I was so hoping this day wouldn’t come for at least 10 more years. Beautiful tribute Maggie. My condolences to Graham and Anita, to Fenella and Lisa, to everyone at the barn who looked after him, and those who just stopped by to visit with a really cool horse, and most of all, to Gala. How will Gala handle not having his part buddy/part sparring partner around anymore? Hard to say rest in peace … give ’em hell, Blackie!

  21. What a lovely remembrance. So very worthy of this warrior. I am so honored to have watched Blackie race through his
    entire career. My deepest condolences to Bushwood and Herringswell Stables on your enormous loss. Thank you to
    New Bolton for all your efforts with Blackie. Rest now big boy.

  22. I don’t want to accept this news. My heart is so broken and I wish I could have had one more visit with him. I’m wasn’t able to send him his treats this year for his birthday and I’m so sorry Blackie. You will forever live in my heart and I cherish the day I got to meet you. What an honor! I love you and will miss your terribly!!!!

    Run with the wind xxoo Marilyn

  23. A very sad day for Herringswell Stables and friends. It was amazing to know such a heroic, tenacious horse. He was certainly one-of-a kind. Condolences to Bushwood Stable as well. It was great that they along with Graham and Anita kept Blackie at his home-Fair Hill-after his very successful racing career. I feel I lost an old friend.

  24. My deepest sympathies to all of Herringswell Stables and friends. He was an amazing horse, thanks you for ALL you did for him, he had an amazing career and a blessed retirement.

  25. Beautifully written tribute Maggie. Blackie received all the respect & affection he deserved & we shall miss him on our intermittent visits. Thanks & credit to all who cared for him to the very end. Now spare a thought for Spinaway who must be missing him so and I hope may find another grumpy old man to keep HIM company.
    Blackie has been my background pic. on my computer ever since he retired & will never be replaced. I see him first & last every day; a VERY special beast.M

  26. Blackie was one of the first horses I followed when I started following racing. I always enjoyed watching him race. I’m so sorry for all of you who were with him every day-such a character. RIP big fellow-I will miss you.

  27. What a lovely tribute. My condolences to all who loved Blackie and whose heart is hurting today. You gave him a great life though where he knew nothing but love and kindness, so he was a very lucky horse.

  28. I’m crying. He was such a special horse – a flame. I’m pretty sure he was one of the most beloved horses in racing, and even into his retirement. Sweet Dreams, Blackie. I hope there’s a lot of delicious graces and other treats waiting for you. And I hope you can run like quicksilver through God’s pastures.

  29. Thank you for taking such care of Blackie – he was much loved by many – Rest Well my friend – and sincere condolences to all – he will be remembered

  30. So sorry. What a great horse who we were fortunate to see compete for many years. Thanks for the memories.

  31. A wonderful tribute that clearly defines how you all felt & what he meant to you. Congratulations on having such a grand fellow in your lives. And how great to hear he was part of the family until the end. Prayers for all and condolences.

  32. A beautiful tribute to a great horse. Blackie was one of the first race horses I ever watched when I got into racing. I have followed him all through the years. My only regret that I never got to meet him in person. Thanks to the people that always took care of him. Rest easy beautiful boy. Prayers to the broken hearts left behind. We will miss you always, Blackie.

  33. Sad to see him go. Very classy horse. Very classy connections. There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. Winston Churchill.

  34. So very sorry to hear this.My horse was at New Bolton for evaluation and I saw a person whom I thought was Graham Motion pull in to the parking lot and go the front door. I was carrying my own very heavy load that day – with outcome still to be determined.. So very very sorry. Horses are such magnificent – and often fragile – creatures. They are truly heart of our heart.

  35. Thinking of you Graham at this very sad time.A very touching and heartfelt tribute.Rest well Blackiexxx

  36. Beautiful tribute. I’m still teary-eyed after reading it and thinking of how hard a loss this is for all who loved Blackie. RIP beautiful one! You will always be remembered and held close in our hearts.

  37. Wishing to extend my condolences to Bushwood Stables, the Motions, the Dominguezs, and everyone who worked with Blackie on and off the track. What a special horse he was.