06/03/2013 7:00AM

Orb's half-brother, stable pal embark on new careers

Courtesy of Priscilla Godsoe
Cause of Freedom, a half-brother of Kentucky Derby winner Orb, will start a second career as a foxhunter or show horse.

Priscilla Godsoe, a young show-jumping trainer and foxhunter in Pennsylvania, has a couple of special reasons to root for Kentucky Derby winner Orb if, as expected, he runs in the June 8 Belmont Stakes. Their names are Cause of Freedom and Well Well.

Cause of Freedom is Orb’s 7-year-old half-brother by Alphabet Soup, and he’s a foxhunter and show-horse sale prospect at Godsoe’s Pennsylvania farm. Well Well, Godsoe’s retired show hunter and fox-hunting partner, now serves as a stable pony for Shug McGaughey’s barn and is Orb’s regular companion during morning training.

Godsoe, 26, said the common denominator is Duncan Patterson, a joint master of foxhounds at the River Hills hunt in Kirkwood, Pa. He’s also the father of Orb’s exercise rider, Jenn Patterson. When Cause of Freedom was in McGaughey’s barn from September 2008 until April 2012, Jenn Patterson also galloped him.

“She really loved him,” Godsoe said. “He’s like a giant pony, really. He has the greatest personality. She singled him out when she galloped him and knew that she wanted to make sure he got a second career.”

The initial plan, Godsoe said, was to sell Cause of Freedom as a hurdling prospect.

“After a couple of weeks, Duncan called me and said, ‘No one wants to buy him as a hurdle horse, so I’m going to send him to you,’ ” Godsoe recalled.

Cause of Freedom arrived at Godsoe’s farm, The Covert Farm in Nottingham, Pa., in August 2012, and she immediately liked what she saw.

“I got him in the ring and jumped him around all the jumps,” she said. “I asked Duncan, ‘Why didn’t anyone want to buy him as a hurdle horse? He jumps great.’ He goes, ‘Because he’d never jumped before.’ I thought he knew how to jump, but he didn’t have a clue. But I poked him around over the jumps, took him out, and jumped some logs. That’s his character: Anything you go do with him, he’s happy to go do. Whatever you want, he’s going to figure it out.”

That fall, Godsoe took Cause of Freedom foxhunting at River Hills, where she is a whipper-in. That means she helps the huntsman with the hounds, pushing straying hounds back to the pack or helping to keep the pack away from dangerous areas like roads. It’s a job that requires a horse to have stamina with bursts of speed, a bold jump, the ability to stand quietly when required, and cleverness across country in footing that can range from mud to rock to creek bottom.

Godsoe also took Cause of Freedom show jumping, where he collected some ribbons.

“The Thoroughbred Incentive jumper classes were starting to get a little more popular, so throughout the winter, when we weren’t hunting because of the weather, I took him to some of the jumper shows,” she said. “He’s just a cool dude. He does anything that you ask of him. He had a really quick introduction to hunter shows, jumper shows, foxhunting, you name it. He’s been awesome.”

In the meantime, Godsoe’s former show-ring partner Well Well had made a transition in the opposite direction, from shows and the hunt field back to the racetrack. Well Well, now 17, is an Opening Verse gelding. He ran until age 5 and won just one of his 14 starts, earning $18,800. Their 12-year partnership in the hunt field and show ring came to an end when Well Well began to go blind in one eye.

“I remember when I was showing him, he started to kind of turn his head as we came up to jumps,” Godsoe said. “It wasn’t that he was spooking on purpose, but he didn’t know that the jump was coming on the right side. But if he turned his head, he could see it.”

Godsoe sent Well Well to Duncan Patterson, who employed the gelding first as a babysitter for yearlings, then as a racetrack pony.

“I knew he was going to be a pony, but I had no idea he was going to be at that level,” Godsoe said. “I didn’t know he was right up there with the best horses they have until I saw the pictures of him with Orb.”

Godsoe attended a horse show May 4, Kentucky Derby Day. On her way home, she and some fellow show riders stopped at an Applebee’s to watch the race and root for Cause of Freedom’s younger half-brother.

“Obviously, we were all dying to see what would happen,” she said. “I didn’t know where Orb was at first. He almost seemed like he was dead last, and it was hard to tell what was happening. My first thought was he wasn’t even a contender. Next thing you know, he started to come around, and, of course, we were all jumping up and down and shouting.”

Back at The Covert Farm in his stall, Cause of Freedom had just become a half-brother to the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner, a distinction that wasn’t tarnished a bit by Orb’s fourth-place finish behind Oxbow in the Preakness Stakes on May 18.

“Everyone was getting their picture taken with him,” Godsoe said. “We feel a little bit closer to the Derby winner now, and we’re all hoping for Orb.”