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Deputed Testamony, who gave all that he had
The sad news of Deputed Testamony's passing brings to mind the love the Boniface family felt toward its 32-year-old homebred classic winner. How many farms can lay claim to a top horse that they bred, raised, broke, trained, raced, stood at stud, pensioned and - last - buried on their property? Bonita Farm can.
Personally, the news reminded me of a wonderful morning spent at Bonita eleven years ago, when I visited the then-21-year-old Deputed Testamony (nicknamed D.T.) for the book Old Friends. That day, Billy Boniface - then the farm's stallion manager - brought their beloved stallion out for photos. Billy is the son of J. William (Bill) Boniface, who co-bred, and trained, Deputed Testamony.
Here is part of the story from Old Friends (2002):
Bonita Farm is a thriving Thoroughbred farm, and the morning I visited in December 2001 was a busy one. Morning sets moved quietly from the training barn to the track, as horses from earlier sets grazed. In the nearby stud barn Billy greeted me warmly and spoke of Deputed Testamony's accomplishments. The 21-year-old stallion was tucked comfortably in his expansive stall.
Billy brought Deputed Testamony outside, and they stopped on the beautiful cobblestone walkway. Several Boniface family members helped as the stallion posed proudly, glancing from person to person as they called out to him.
Billy led D.T. to the far, lower end of his paddock, knowing the stallion would turn and run to his favorite corner. Deputed Testamony, usually a gentleman, didn't care for this game and reared gracefully.
The stallion's coat, a mix of unusual curls and countless rich brown tones, glowed brilliantly. His lovely face showed no malice - only eagerness to be set free. A strong stallion of good bone with a professional attitude, Deputed Testamony longed to run.
Billy unclasped the shank, and Deputed Testamony bolted up his hill toward the corner, where a stallion waited in an adjacent paddock. D.T. moved with driving, youthful strides, his ears forward. Valley Crossing waited, and when D.T. reached him, the two set off in a relaxed match race.
After several minutes of mock competition, the two stallions settled down. Deputed Testamony dropped his head to graze. Just beyond his paddock, a beautiful old church, appropriately named Harmony Church, stood proudly. With its oversized steeple and timeless old cemetery as backdrop, Deputed Testamony spends his days in a Norman Rockwell scene.
As with many older stallions, Deputed Testamony is no longer fashionable, and only ten mares visited his court in 2001. His 2002 stud fee, $2,500, is one-tenth that of his 1985 fee, but Deputed Testamony still has his faithful followers. And well he should.
He has sired ten Maryland Million winners, and six of his runners have earned more than $400,000. Churchbell Chimes, his leading earner, won seven stakes and earned $577,844. Testing, Winsox, Reputed Testamony, Under Oath and Testafly were other popular Mid-Atlantic-based winners.
Now retired from training, Bill Boniface still believes in his old Preakness winner. "His offspring, they're just game as a racehorse comes. At any price range, they'll give you all they've got, like he did."
* * * *
More photos from 2001:
Above/below: Deputed Testamony at the Bonita Farm stallion barn, with Billy Boniface, 2001.
Miscellaneous Deputed Testamony information:
* Winner 1983 Preakness Stakes - the most recent Maryland-bred to win the classic race
* Two-time track record setter - one mile at Meadowlands (1:36 1/5) at age 2, and the 1 1/16-mile record at Pimlico (1:40 4/5), set at age 4
* Won 11 of 20 starts, including the Preakness, Haskell and five other stakes races, and earned $674,329
* Deputed Testamony's sire, Traffic Cop, won 9 of 33 starts, including two stakes, and earned $130,195. Traffic Cop sired five stakes winners.
* Deputed Testamony's dam, Proof Requested, won 1 of 4 races and earned $1,797.
* Deputed Testamony was - by far - the leading offspring of both his sire and dam
* Deputed Testamony initially stood at stud alongside his sire at Bonita Farm (Traffic Cop died in 1986)
* Soon after Deputed Testamony retired, the Boniface bought a much larger, beautiful farm - in large part due to their homebred's earnings
* Deputed Testamony sired 11 winners of Maryland Million races
* Deputed Testamony's leading earners included Churchbell Chimes ($577,844), Testing, Winsox, Reputed Testamony, Under Oath, Testafly
* Sired 20 crops, and his offspring earned more than $18.5 million
* Broodmare sire of Bellamy Road and Whitmore's Conn
* Pensioned in 2004
* Was, at the time of his death, the oldest living classic winner, an honor now transferred to Hansel (although there is no record of Summing's death, he died several years ago, according to research by CTBA's Rudi Groothedde)
* Died on September 18, 2012. Deputed Testamony was buried at Bonita Farm next to his sire and dam.
Old Friends, published in 2002 by Eclipse Press in Lexington, Kentucky, is out-of-print.
I remember his Preakness win very well; he showed a lot of heart in the mud beating a strong field (Desert Wine, Sunny's Halo).
What a tale you can tell Ms Liningstone. Not only with pictures but also words. What a grand looking fella Deputed Testamony was.
great work, barbara,as always your articles show racings best side.its obvious from how you presented this well layed out work that this horse was loved and happy.the farm too comes across as a wonderfull place.thank you for sharing these images.
Thank you, Barbara, for this very touching tribute to Deputed Testamony. What an incredibly handsome horse Deputed Testamony was! Your pictures are just beautiful of him, Barbara, as usual. He lived a long, happy life, surrounded by the love of a whole family and their staff that adored him. The last photo you show of him brings tears to the eyes - now that is great love being shown by a horse. That he cherished the person in the photo with him there is no doubt. And the feeling is visibly mutual. Deputed Testimony was a champion on the field and off it, and he is going to be desperately missed. My condolences to his connections, their grief must be very deep. And thank you, Deputed Testamony. Rest in peace.
Thank you very much, Barbara, for such a lovely tribute to Deputed Testamony. I vividly recall listening to his Preakness victory in my dorm room at Cornell. All Thoroughbreds deserve to live their lives with such love and respect. Congratulations to the Boniface family for giving us a model that all horsemaen should emulate.
32 yrs old...love from the bonita farm family kept him happy and healthy for a long time...see what love can do? Us "humans" can take a lesson...(rest in peace you champion)
Beautiful tribute to a much loved horse. The care and contentment of this magnificent fellow is so evident in your beautiful photographs. Thank you again for making me feel like I was there. A beautiful farm. I will return to my "Old Friends" book and look him up again.
There is no way a horse will fake his/her love for someone that truly cares for them. Their display of affection is always genuine. You can see how loved DT was and his actions proved it. He received excellent care, as evident, in his longevity at Bonita Farm. What a gorgeous and nurturing farm. I can not recall seeing a Bay with black markings going passed the knees as DT's did. He had beautiful markings that probably went un-noticed unless you were lucky enough to have worked around him. I could look at that face all day and still find some new find that I had missed the day before. Thank you, Barbara, for going back into your endless vault of photograhs. Each one reminds us of their special talents and beauty.
Beautiful tribute that brings back memories of my days at Bonita Farm. During the time I worked at Bonita Farm I witnessed the love that the entire family shares for the horses. My own racetrack pony, Little Joe, is now 27 years old ( also former stable pony for Allen Jerkens) and is here with me on a small farm in Southwest Ranches, FL. If I could choose a place for my horse to spend his last days, Bonita Farm just might be it.
Thanks, as always, Barbara. Certainly remember DT and that muddy Preakness. Great to see how he was looked after as 32 is more than good and those Fun Facts fill in a lot of gaps stop Still tinged with a touch of sadness and Old Friends, published in 2002 by Eclipse Press in Lexington, Kentucky, is out-of-print.:( Oh, if we could see that changed!