03/21/2013 2:24PM

Turkoman - visiting with an old friend

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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