03/21/2013 2:24PM

Turkoman - visiting with an old friend


I recently had the opportunity to visit with an old friend - TURKOMAN, the champion older horse of 1986.  The 31-year-old pensioner looks happy and comfortable at his E. A. Ranches home in Ramona, CA.  And his relaxed retirement is due, in part, due to the kindness of a band of angels-on-earth who help pay toward his care.  Here is his story, which also appears in Saturday's DRF Weekend.

Above/below:  Turkoman, Gary Stevens up, wins the 1986 Marlboro Cup over Precisionist.  This dominant victory went a long way in helping Turkoman earn the champion older horse honors that year.  

Above/below:  At Saratoga, Chris McCarron up, 1986.

Above/below:  Turkoman at Darby Dan Farm, KY, where he entered stud in 1987.  At the time these photos were taken, he was 9.

Above/below:  Turkoman at Mira Loma Thoroughbreds, CA, in 2004.  That farm closed the following year, and Turkoman was moved to E. A. Ranches in Ramona.

Above:  Turkoman in 2004.

Above/below:  The beautiful 1,000-acre E. A. Ranches, in Ramona, CA, the current home of champion Turkoman.  

Above/belows:  The views at E. A. Ranches are a photographer's dream.  

Above/below:  E. A. Ranches is owned by the family of Ernest Auerbach, who passed away at age 93 in 2010. 

Above/below:  E. A. Ranches' barn.

Above:  Stallion manager Roberto Mejia leads a very handsome 31-year-old Turkoman out to his paddock.

Above:  Roberto has worked at E. A. Ranches for 30 years and with Turkoman since his arrival.

"He's good and never tough, especially if you have something (a treat) to give him," Mejia says with a smile.

Above/below:  How grand is this old boy?  Turkoman strutted about his paddock and, no doubt, loved having visitors.

One of Turkoman's loving supporters is 77-year-old Sandy Smith of Livonia, Michigan.  In 1948, her mother told her to read the paper and pick out her choice for the Kentucky Derby.  Sandy's mother wanted Coaltown.

"Well, I read the paper and chose Citation - and have been enthralled with horses ever since!"

As to why she loves Turkoman, Sandy - a diehard Alydar fan - says, "I visited Turkoman at Darby Dan because he is a son of Alydar. I never saw him race, but since the first visit, something about him reached out, captured my heart and imagination, and has never let go. I do love him so."

Above:  The view many farm visitors see...a friendly and curious Turkoman watching the farm goings-on.

Above:  In addition to helping support Turkoman, farm manager Marguerite Eliasson visits with him daily.  "He's a sweetheart," she says.  "He loves attention.  When people drive by, his head comes up and his ears go up.  Everyone who goes by gives him treats."

Thank you to E. A. Ranches, including Marguerite Eliasson, for allowing my visit.  Thank you also to those who have helped Turkoman continue on with a top-quality life - including his human angels Rose Hochner and Carroll Robertson Ray, Sandy Smith, Marguerite Eliasson and the wonderful folk at Our Mims Retirement Haven in Paris, KY.

E. A. Ranches website: http://www.earanches.com/

Our Mims Retirement Haven website:  http://www.ourmims.org

Our Mims Retirement Haven Turkoman T-shirts: http://www.ourmims.org/shop/store/comersus_listItems.asp?idCategory=50

I looked on Youtube for videos of TURKOMAN winning but, darn, couldn't find any.  I found two that showed him, though - although both were runner-up finishes (with due respect to both winners, these videos bug me!).  The Breeders' Cup, especially, is a good representation of his usual come-from-far-back style (he was much closer up in the JCGC, with its slow pace).

1986 Breeders' Cup Classic (Skywalker, winner):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeDswhlHUW0

1986 Jockey Club Gold Cup (Creme Fraiche, winner): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB_PuITVAdA

GU1961 More than 1 year ago
I can't find the right adjective to use to describe how outstanding your photos are, Barbara (even though I did just use "outstanding", that word doesn't do your photos justice), and these are all wonderful, but I really like the ones at Mira Loma with the tree in the background. Man, it's little things like that in your work that inspire me to try to take better pictures. Appreciate all the links in this article as well. Merry Christmas, Barbara. Rest in peace, Turko!
Mary Oakley More than 1 year ago
Barbara - Any thought of a third "Old Friends" book?
Danny Jimenez More than 1 year ago
What a Monster of a horse!! I can vividly remember standing on The Belmont Park paddock rail and seeing this behemeath of a horse with the most powerful withers and powerful neck of all. This was Marlboro Cup day and I had previously seen the horse with the "blue" socks that decored those gigantic legs. I was 7 years old at the time, but to this day ( I have stood and touched such greats as Easy Goer, Manila, Gulch, Groovy) never have I been so impressed by such a sublime and amazing creature as the Great Turkoman On any given day this horse would beat anyone...
Hail No More than 1 year ago
Turkoman Rocks, on the track, an amazing competitor..Thank Goodness for good people that support this wonderful horse.. When I claimed my first horse, (I was really a kid) and did not have any "plan" if I was his last owner. But man did I love my horse, everyday, every night, I'd take him out of his stall to graze, almost every night, a gentleman with an English accent saw me, and after a couple nights , he'd always say, "You really love that horse, huh?" Finally, this gentleman, came over and struck up a conversation, I knew exactly who it was and was shocked that he would come and talk to me. "Have you ever thought about a career for your horse after racing?" I said I didn't really think about that yet, he said, "Your horse would make a terrific jumper" and said he'd love to make that transition possible. I was dumbfounded and so impressed, that Jonathan Shepperd would make that offer.. Ever since, I have always thought about life after racing for all horses, the way it should be!
Kim Jackson More than 1 year ago
I admire Jonathan Sheppard and still place my bets on his horses on the steeplechase circuit in Ga and SC.
Mae Williams-Smith More than 1 year ago
what a beauty i to am a die hard alydar fan and have had the honors of seeing turkoman run he has always been one of my favorites from the day he stepped on the track. missing the greats of his time. thanks barbara so much for these great pics..
Artie Magnuson More than 1 year ago
Beautiful photos Barb. Amazing. Thanks-- inspiring
Abigail Anderson More than 1 year ago
Barbara: How great to welcome the week with a visit to Turkoman. He really has retained that beauty he had when he was a youngster. I'm so pleased to know he's happy, healthy and loved.
judy berube More than 1 year ago
Dear Barbara: Wow, he is still gorgeous. Thank you for the wonderful commentary and beautiful photos of Turkoman. Hugs, JB
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Barbara What a Grand Old Man :) Thank you for the wonderful pictures and story. It's been waaay to long since I visited here. As always, your stories make me smile SR Vegas
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Oh, my! How I love the story of Turkoman. My heart always aches whenever I think of Alydar - he deserved so much better than the fate he received in the end and I always wish someone had been there to save him from so much sorrow. I am thankful that a group of wonderful angels on Earth stepped up to help Alydar's son, the great Turkoman. What an incredibly handsome horse Turkoman is! He looks fabulous for a 31 year old horse. He looks so happy at his farm, enjoying his life and retirement, a blessing in and of itself. It makes the heart glad to see him so happy and well taken care of. Bless everyone at E.A. Ranches for taking such good care of this great Eclipse champion. Bleass all of Turkoman's angels who rushed to his rescue and came to the aid of a horse who touched their souls. And bless you, Barbara, for bringing us this story and sharing your gorgeous photos of Turkoman with us. Your talent is a joy to behold and experience, always! Thank you!