“Their Last Dance” – A Special Memory

Anita reached out with what would seem like an innocuous question the other morning: “Can you find this picture?”

As most photographers know, that simple request can often be a heart-stopper….and this one certainly was. The photo in question was taken 17 years ago. And while it appears to be an image of a routine, daily occurrence – it’s a pair of horses breezing here at Fair Hill – it’s fair to say those two horses became the cornerstones of Herringswell as we know it today. (Note that the surface is the old wood chips track; this was pre-Tapeta!)

The bay mare on the outside is Film Maker, ridden by Fenella O’Flynn. Her workmate on the rail is Better Talk Now with Lisa Davison aboard. That morning was the last time the two stable stars breezed together; this was taken shortly before the 2006 Breeders’ Cup. I remember being so pleased with the image when I saw it, thinking that although bittersweet, it was just so beautiful of the two of them.  And it was either Graham or Anita who immediately entitled it “Their Last Dance.”

On October 11, 2003, 3-year-old Film Maker (Dynaformer – Miss Dubois, by Mr. Prospector) became Graham’s first Grade 1 winner with her victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland. From that point on, all of her starts were in graded stakes races, including three appearances in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She was second twice and once third, and her rivalry with Ouija Board (GB) was one for the ages. Her final race was the 2006 renewal, and the photo with Blackie was her last work before the pair shipped to Churchill for that year’s Breeders’ Cup. Owned by Courtlandt Farm, she retired a multiple graded stakes winner with a stellar record: 27-8-8-7 with $2,203,730 earned.

And as for the guy on the rail….what’s left to be said about Blackie? Our legend. Our brilliant ambassador. Our forever fan-favorite. Part of our lives for 16 years, he became a bona-fide star in our sport and took the entire barn along on an incredible ride during his remarkable 8-year career. And after that, we were blessed to enjoy him in his retirement for another 8 years when owners Brent and Carole Johnson decided that the best place for Blackie to spend the rest of his life was here in Fair Hill. To this day, we still hear from fans who tell us they became interested and involved in horse racing because of Better Talk Now. If there’s a better legacy for a racehorse, we sure don’t know what it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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