When you’re a 12-day-old colt, not even rain keeps you from stretching your legs.
“If you saw him the first few days we put him out, he did not know how to use those hind legs,” Sheryl Prudhomme said as she watched a young horse gallop through the mud at her Shamrock Hill Farm. “Now he is obviously figuring it out.”
“As slick as it is, you watch him and he just floats over the ground,” trainer Daniel Moulton, Jr. said.
What You Need To Know
- Among the 20 horses entered in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is New York-bred Brooklyn Strong
- The three-year-old colt was bred on Shamrock Hill Farm in Fort Edward
- The farm’s owners, a retired dentist and chemist, sold Brooklyn Strong when he was still a baby and have never raised a horse that’s reached the Kentucky Derby before
The newborn is one of this year’s promising arrivals at the farm in Fort Edward. The 100-acre property is tiny by thoroughbred industry standards.
“We are just small, we really can’t afford to hire people,” Prudhomme said as she filled a bucket of water to bring to some of her horses.
Once a chemist by trade, Cheryl Prudhomme and her husband, retired dentist Dr. Michael Gallivan, got into the thoroughbred breeding business 18 years ago.
“It’s a lot of hard work, let me tell you,” Dr. Gallivan said while shoveling muck out of a stall.
Three years ago, Moulton came on board to help the couple break, or begin the training process for their young horses. Moulton was new to working with thoroughbreds, but he knew enough to notice one colt that stood out.
“He was a little bit stronger-minded than some, but other than that, it was a real blur,” Moulton said while leading another one of this year’s babies into its paddock.
“I have a little video of him jumping up on his mother bucking and kicking,” Prudhomme said with a smile.
After the couple sold him as a 6-month-old weanling a few months later, the horse’s new owners named him Brooklyn Strong.
“He was a nice colt and he was handsome, he was a good looking horse but it’s hard to say when they are that young what’s going to happen,” Prudhomme said.
“We liked him from the beginning, but not for the Derby; we didn’t know,” Gallivan said.
Yes, even to its owners, the small Washington County farm seemed like the unlikeliest place for a future Kentucky Derby runner to be born, but Brooklyn Strong stamped himself as an early contender for the “Run for the Roses” with a win in the Remsen Stakes last fall. The top finishers in the stakes for 2-year-olds at Aqueduct Racetrack earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
“We almost had a heart attack; we were screaming,” Prudhomme said. “All of the dogs were upset because we were screaming so loud, and the dogs ran and hid.”
“That was just an emotional charge I can’t even begin to describe,” said Moulton, who had never seen Brooklyn Strong run before.
Despite that impressive win, it still took another horse dropping out at the last minute for Brooklyn Strong to sneak into the Derby field.
”I know his morning odds are 50 to 1. Well, I’ve got to tell you, he is a lot better than that,” Gallivan said.
Brooklyn Strong’s one-year-old half-brother is currently being raised at Shamrock Hill and will be old enough to start racing next year.
“We actually have high hopes for this colt at the sales and on the track,” Prudhomme said as she watched Moulton lead the yearling into his field.
While the young horse offers yet another reason to be excited, Prudhomme and Galivan are focused on their trip to Kentucky this weekend, where they’ll be in the crowd as Brooklyn Strong attempts to defy the odds once more.
“Out of 27,000 that are bred in the United States, we’ve got one that is in the derby out of 20 horses,” Gallivan siad. “That’s pretty big.”
“We are going to be proud, anyway,” Prudhomme said. “I mean, just to have a horse in the Derby – how many people can say that?”
Post time for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is 6:57 p.m.