February 14 – Not Just Valentine’s Day

It happens to also be Lilly’s birthday! She was born February 14, 2006. Last Saturday, my daughter and I went out to the farm to give Lilly her birthday hugs and kisses as well as some treats. No fancy presents, a big cut up apple was much appreciated. The cool thing about Thoroughbreds is you can find out their exact date of birth, as well as whom they are related to. Each Thoroughbred born in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico is registered with The Jockey Club, whose mission is to maintain the integrity of the breed. Organized on February 9, 1894, The Jockey Club maintains The American Stud Book, the official recording of all Thoroughbreds. The book tracks the lineage of all Thoroughbreds and ensures the name of each one is unique. There are various naming rules, but I will save that for another blog. One of my favorite websites is If you have the registered name of your Thoroughbred, you can find out all its ancestors going back five generations. You can go back even further by clicking on other ancestors within the family tree. Within Lilly’s bloodlines run the great Bold Ruler, Native Dancer and Swaps, famous horses in the world of horse racing that I recognize. There are also many, many names in her family tree that I don’t know, but that I am sure have their own story to tell. Horse people spend hours researching bloodlines, trying to find the best match to breed the next Triple Crown winner, the next Secretariat. However, you never truly know what the results of two horses will bring. The bloodlines only provide so much to the equation. What about environment and personality? What about the team that surrounds the horse – the trainer, the jockey, the owner? How much do these factors play into developing a winner? It makes me think of the age old argument of nature versus nurture. As for Lilly, I know her bloodlines. I can find out how each of her ancestors did during their racing career, if they had one. Outside of these known names, our adventure will be at the mercy of an unknown personality and the decisions I make along the way regarding the care this future foal receives. It is a big responsibility. I hope I am up for the job. Happy nine-year-old birthday, Lilly Bear. PDP_0130

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