06/28/2011 1:47PM

A fond farewell to Two Punch



Above:  Two Punch glows in the early morning light at Northview Stallion Station, Chesapeake City, Maryland. October 2004.

Two Punch was as much a part of Northview Stallion Station as the barns, the grass, the office. The immensely popular stallion was there when Northview began in 1989, and he was laid to rest there this past weekend.

Two Punch was one of my favorite horses - for many reasons.  First, he was a photographer's dream.  If you aimed a camera his way and didn't get a good photo, you weren't trying.  His near-white coat was beautiful, and then there was his powerful, square face. The blood flowing through him was the stuff of dreams - Mr. Prospector and Heavenly Cause. Two Punch was a top sire throughout his storied career - even siring Eclipse Award winner Smoke Glacken. His offspring are still winning, and 16 of the 21 mares bred to him in 2011 are pronounced in foal.

The old boy was good-natured and contented - and yet he had attitude, too. Early mornings often found him in his paddock nearest the main stallion barn. The stout grey would occasionally lean up against his fence, challenging the stallion in the adjacent paddock. He’d grunt, put his head down, press his body up against the rails, reach his hoof up and bang on the fence - and then raise his head to look to see if his challenge was accepted. When fellow stallions were led past his paddock, Two Punch puffed up and followed them along the fence line.

Although the staff reinforced his fence line with extra boards, it wasn’t uncommon to find Two Punch had knocked a board or two down overnight. And his light grey coat was often streaked with dark lines from pressing up against his fence. Yet somehow, despite odd marks often criss-crossing his sides and hind end, he always looked world-class.

I won’t forget my magical moments with him in the early mornings.   Beneath moon's waning light, the fog echoing his white coat, he melted into the scene like a ghost. Many people will remember his annual “Look at me! I’m the Man!,” displays at the Northview stallion shows.  He’d positively float along at a relaxed jog, his long wavy tail flowing behind – and then suddenly rear, for fun – to an adoring crowd. I won’t forget how peaceful he looked while relaxing in his stall, or how he’d saunter up to the stall rungs to allow visitors to scratch his withers or rump.

The barn in which Two Punch lived was once home to the immortal Northern Dancer, and a plaque notes the stall where that stallion lived so long ago. I hope that, when people visit Northview years from now, they’ll remember with fondness that Two Punch made his mark there as well.

Above:  The main entry of Northview's Maryland stallion division, which leads both to the main farm office and to the stallion barns.  Northview also has a farm in Pennsylvania.

Above:  Two Punch's sire, Mr. Prospector, at age 28 at Claiborne Farm.  He was one of the most popular and successful sires of the modern era.

Above:  Heavenly Cause, the dam of Two Punch, was the champion 2-year-old filly of 1980.  Among this eye-turning beauty's wins were the G1 Kentucky Oaks, G1 Acorn, G1 Fantasy, G1 Frizette and G1 Selima.  She earned $622,481.

Above:  Heavenly Cause's sire was the immortal Grey Dawn II, born in 1962 and 24 when this photo was taken at his Domino Stud home.  Look at those hind pasterns! 

Above:  Smoke Glacken - shown winning the 1996 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga - would prove Two Punch's most famous offspring.  He was the Eclipse champion sprinter in 1997 and is now a stallion at Gainesway. 

Above, and two photos below:  Two Punch in 1996 at Northview, the first year I photographed him.  By then, he was 13 years old and already very successful at stud. 

Above:  Two Punch at age 13, in 1996.  Below, Two Punch 8 years later - still looking great at Northview.

Above and below: 21-year-old Two Punch in a familiar role - telling the adjacent stallion, in no uncertain terms, that he is the boss.  Note the extra fence boards in place for his protection.

Above:  Two Punch, 21, in front of the main stallion barn at Northview.  Northview Stallion Station is a world-class operation, with care taken at every turn - from the landscaping to the stallion care.

Above and below:  Two Punch, always the most popular model during the opulent Northview stallion shows.  This is Two Punch at the 2004 show, when he was 21.

Above and below:  Moonlight over Northview.

Above and below:  Two Punch was 24 in 2007 - and more popular than ever.

Above:  By the time this photo was taken, Two Punch had reigned through two decades of changes at Northview.  It was rare for this paddock sign to be crooked, as Northview pays close attention to detail.  I'd guess Two Punch, in the far background, had something to do with it.  

Above:  Two Punch was obviously feeling extra-territorial the day this was taken.  He was streaked with marks from rubbing, pressing, leaning against his fence boards.

Above and below:  Two Punch struts out as a fellow stallion is led to its paddock.

Above:  The moon sets at Northview Stallion Station in October 2008.  This main stallion barn has housed many famous stallions over the years, but none more storied than the immortal Northern Dancer.  He resided there when the property was owned by Windfields.  Two Punch also called this barn home.

Above:  The Northview stallion cemetery (main stallion barn in background).  The stones mark the final resting places of Polish Numbers, Tentam, King's Bishop, Caveat, T.V. Commercial and Baederwood.  I think Smarten and Waquoit are also interred there, but I'm not sure.

Above:  Plaques on Two Punch's stall.

Above and below:  The last photos I took of Two Punch.  It was just a typical morning for the 27-year-old pampered pensioner as he was led in from his paddock. Two Punch died on Saturday, June 25, 2011, at age 28.  He was buried on the farm.

For more information about Two Punch, please click here:  Northview Stallion Station

For news of his passing and most recent stats: TWO PUNCH, ICONIC MARYLAND SIRE, DEAD AT 28

To view a video of Two Punch at a Northview stallion show: YouTube - Northview Stallion Station--12-09-07

For more information about Northview Stallion Station, click here: Northview Stallion Station

Two Punch's Blood-Horse stallion register page: http://www.bloodhorse.com/stallion-register/pdfs/twopunch.pdf