Amos and Andy were best buddies as foals, but their racing careers sent them down separate paths. Elizabeth Wood of Bits & Bytes Farm shares the story of their unlikely reunion.
I want to share a story about two Thoroughbred horses born in Lexington, Ky. in 2006. There were two foals born on the small breeder’s farm that year: a very dark grey colt and a chestnut colt. The dark colt was from a beautiful grey mare and was destined to become a gorgeous dappled grey–the kind of horse that everyone wants to own. The chestnut had four white socks and a big blaze down his face–the kind of chrome that is flashy in the show ring. But these two foals were bred to become racehorses.
When Thoroughbred foals are born, before they have their official racing names, they usually get nicknamed by their handlers at the farm. There were only two foals born on this farm in 2006 and they were the best of buddies. Their breeder nicknamed the grey Andy and the chestnut Amos.
Amos and Andy played in the bluegrass of their old Kentucky home until it was time to begin training for careers as racehorses when they were late yearlings. A well respected trainer came by to check out the two young thoroughbreds. Although the trainer was partial to greys, he chose to partner with the breeder on Amos to train for racing.
Amos on the Track
Soon Amos was at Churchill Downs learning to become a racehorse under the watchful eye of the experienced trainer. His first race was as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs. It took four starts before he finished first. Seventeen more races added just one second and one third to his race record, and with only $12,210 in total earnings, it was decided that Amos should be retired. He came off the track age four, sound and ready for a new job.
He embarked upon a second career as a pony horse for the same trainer, eventually becoming the best pony horse ever at Churchill Downs. Each day he led the trainer’s more famous Thoroughbreds, including $2 million winner Brass Hat and Breeders’ Cup champion female sprinter Groupie Doll, to races that were worth a lot more per race than Amos had won in all of his 18 races. He enjoyed his life as a pony horse for several years until the pounding of the young horses on his stout frame made Amos wish for another career. His owner recognized that Amos was not happy with his job and started looking for a third career for the still-sound, now 7-year-old gelding.
Andy on the Track
Andy, the dark grey colt, also went into training but at Turfway Park instead of Churchill Downs–kind of like a baseball player dropping down to the minors before proving himself and moving up to the majors. He finished seventh out of nine horses in his first race with a comment of “failed to respond.” In his next race he finished a milquetoast sixth out of eight. A change of track and trainer took Andy to Florida where he moved up in class from $11,000 maiden claiming races to a $16,000 maiden claiming on the turf.
Andy liked the warm weather and the turf, finishing third with better comments of “some late interest.” He raced a couple more times in Florida before returning to Keeneland in Kentucky. He raced on the Polytrack and did not like the surface, beating just one horse, then raced once at Indiana Downs before traveling east to the turf of Colonial Downs in Virginia. He finally won his first race, as a 4-year-old.
He raced several more times in Virginia and moved on to Maryland where he finished his racing career sound and in good health. He retired to his breeder’s farm in Lexington with career winnings of $13,923–one win, one second and four thirds in 15 races. Not a real impressive racing career.
So what happens to racehorses when they are retired?
Amos and Andy are two of the lucky ones. They retired to their owners’ farms instead of filtering down to the bottom tier tracks to race–until they couldn’t. They were retired while still young and sound for other careers.
Good owners and trainers take care to place their horses when they are done racing. They do not want to see them end up at an auction or with an unskilled rider so they work with people who know how to retrain and place off-the-track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs). Fortunately, both of their owners were familiar with the program at Bits & Bytes Farm where we find homes for sound race horses that still have the mind and body to become sport horses. They are offered for sale on our website, even before they are done racing, so that when their last race is finished they already have a place and a new job to go to.
Andy’s breeder called us when Andy retired and asked us to come to his farm in Lexington to take photos of Andy and several other horses to place for sale on the Bits & Bytes Farm website. Boarder Suellen Slockbower, already the owner of one OTTB, came along for the ride and instantly fell totally in love with Andy.
Thoroughbreds are like potato chips–you can’t just have one! Andy’s laid-back personality stole Suellen’s heart and opened it to getting another ex-racehorse.The next thing you know, we were putting Andy on the trailer to bring him home to Bits & Bytes Farm as Suellen’s second OTTB. Suellen is training Andy for his second career as a dressage horse and he is doing very well, even winning the championship for his beginning level dressage series!
Well, it just so happened that Bits & Bytes Farm was on the road to Kentucky again to pick up a beautiful grey filly we sold for a respected trainer. The grey filly’s new owner Susan Goodman, DVM, was with us as were Suellen and Cindy Oliver–all owners of Bits & Bytes Farm horses. Between the three women they had purchased seven OTTBs from Bits & Bytes Farm.
While at the trainer’s farm, we took photos of a beautiful chestnut gelding that needed to find a new career. We then loaded the grey filly for the ride home to Bits & Bytes Farm. The trainer mentioned that there was another even prettier retired race horse on the other side of the farm owned by his assistant that we should take a look at, called Souperman Himself.
As we were looking at Souperman Himself, his owner told us how special he was and how he really needed to find a forever home. His owner never wanted to worry that he was being starved or sent off to auction. She knew that we follow the horses we sell and that we only sell to people with the experience to train and handle an OTTB. She offered to let us bring Souperman home so that Bits & Bytes Farm’s other owner could try him with the hope that he would live at our farm forever.
After a few text messages and photos to the husband (the potential owner for Souperman), it was determined that doing so would not result in divorce. Souperman Himself was loaded in the trailer and we headed home.
A Surprise Reunion
It was only after getting home and pulling up Souperman Himself’s records in Equibase that I saw his breeder’s name and realized we now had the team of Amos and Andy back together at Bits & Bytes Farm! Souperman Himself was Amos of the “Amos and Andy” Kentucky buddies. William Buff Bradley was the trainer who started both Superman Himself (Amos) and Detroit Iron (Andy). Once again they would be playing in the fields together–this time in Georgia instead of Kentucky.
Both of Amos and Andy are 100% sound at 7 years old and both have great personalities. They have always been well cared for and loved. They will enjoy each other’s company once again as they learn to be sport horses.
Thoroughbreds have a lot to offer after racing and Amos and Andy are proof of that. Take a chance on an off-the-track Thoroughbred and you won’t be disappointed.
A huge thanks to Elizabeth for sharing this story with Horse Nation. Visit the Bits & Bytes Farm website to learn more about buying and retraining OTTBs and to view available horses for sale!
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