Yes, Shorty is the forbidden name when it comes to marketing a stallion in the bluegrass country of Kentucky. They say size matters. Well, I tend to disagree. Came Home, a colt that I was introduced to at the 1999 November Keeneland sale, was the apple of my eye. Co-owner John Toffan, wanted to sell him. NOT! He entered him in three sales, set a reserve that guaranteed him coming home. Every excuse to not buy him was heard around the sales ring. “He has long pasterns.” “Toes out on his left front.” “Kinda Small” All of the experts missed one “flaw”. Came Home’s heart! His heart was perfect and huge! Three thoroughbred sales, and Shorty was there, but he came home after each one.
Came Home’s Record at the sales. Twice bought back at Keeneland and once at Barretts.
I loved him as a racehorse, but to work around him he was a punk! When applying bandages, he would know you were below him and in the middle of the bandage, he would decide to walk to the other side of the stall, turn and look down at you as if to say, “Did I do something (Snicker, Snicker, Snicker)?” When the farrier came we shod him in his stall and did two shoes one day and two shoes the next.
He broke his maiden at Hollywood Park under Chris McCarron. He then won the Hollywood Juvenile also at Hollywood Park. After that it was on to NY for the GI Hopeful at Saratoga Racecourse. He won convincingly defeating a solid field of two-year-olds including Proud Citizen, Jump Start & Mayakovsky. Shorty was there.
After that, Shorty flew home back to Santa Anita. A short time after that, Bill Farish and Mark Casse flew in to examine the two year old as The Farish’s were interesting in purchasing a percentage of him.
Shortly after that, the partnership was formed and my days of calling him, “Shorty” were only under my breath.
On a day in September, I was putting poultice and bandaging his legs. I had him tied up in the front of his stall so he can eat his hay and look out. Then I heard rumbling in Spanish. Paco had the news on the breaking news revealed the first of two planes to hit the World Trade Center. I should have been thinking of some distant cousins and other relatives I had in New York. But, the only thing I can think of was, what will happen to the Breeders Cup, as it was scheduled for Belmont Park. After that though, the news of the second plane. Then all thoughts in my brain were scrambled to sorrow. A day all of us will never forget. Shorty was there with me.
Months after 9/11, the Breeders Cup did take place. Security was at a highest. I stayed back with the rest of the horses while Paco and Israel Garcia were on the road to the Big Apple. Belmont Park.
After finishing 6th behind Johannesburg in the BC Juvenile, it was back to California to be freshened for the winter meet at Santa Anita.
In a row, Came Home took the San Vicente Stakes, the San Rafael and the Santa Anita Derby before heading to Louisville, KY for the Kentucky Derby.
Derby Day came and my boss and dear friend, Paco, flew me in for the special day. Everyone that has any passion for the sport wants to run in the Kentucky Derby. To win, well, that is incredible to think about, but to be in the paddock with a horse that you worked, hands on with, that is the epitome of our career.
We walked up, Paco of course walking way faster than myself. NBC’s Kenny Rice caught up to Paco and did a walk up interview with Paco. Paco was nervous but graciously gave Kenny a few words.
After saddling in the paddock, we were taken up to a place where the Ambassador Farish and the rest of the Farish family were viewing the post parade. (Not my normal place to watch)
As I looked down at “Shorty” in the post parade, I started crying like a little baby. One of the Farish’s children looked at me and asked why I was crying. I simply said, “Tears of Joy.”
Came Home finished 6th, behind War Emblem, Proud Citizen, Madaglia d’Oro and others just to name a few. We licked our wounds and again headed back to California.
After regrouping, Paco was aiming for the Affirmed Handicap (G3) at Hollywood Park. This race was going to be a bitter sweet day as Came Home’s regular rider, Chris McCarron decided to ride his last race on Came Home. On June 23rd, the man who won 7,141 races and $263,986,005 in purses, was hanging up his tack. If you listen to Vic Stauffer’s call, you can hear a crackle in his voice while calling this historical moment.
After winning the GI Swaps at Hollywood, Came Home was shipped to Del Mar along with stablemate Bosque Redondo for the GI Pacific Classic. Came Home was victorious and turned the tables on War Emblem. But, there was a cloud over that race and I still do not even have a copy of the win photo. Bosque Redondo, had broken down passed the wire and unseated jockey David Flores. Bosque Redondo rode in the Ambulance back to the barn and stabilized. The vets involved decided surgery was the best option to save his life. Afterwards, I went down to Came Home’s stall and gave him the biggest hug. I was so happy he was ok and safe.
Came Home was training up to his last race, the Breeders Cup at Arlington Park. Paco, Co-Owner John Toffan and his wife, Cheryl Toffan flew in for the race, but I stayed back at Santa Anita. After an unplaced finish, Came Home shipped down to Lane’s End Farm where he would stand at stud. Came Home earned $1,835,940 while winning 9 of 12 races.
He had some success in the US with his runners. His first runner, Beautiful Venue was a winner at Keeneland in the Spring meet 2006. Other runners included CP West, Biker Boy (A favorite in the Moquett Barn) and in Japan, Tango Tonnerre (JPN) were his leading runners. After entering stud in 2003 in the USA, he was sold to JBBA Stallion Station and moved in 2008.
Not a day has gone by where I didn’t think about him. My friend Shannon (Midway Road) and myself would go to Lane’s End and visit him almost weekly. I brought him his carrots that he liked.
After he left for Japan, I would buy a lottery ticket each week. First on my mind was to take a trip to see him. I managed to find a representative from the JBBA Stallion Station who would give me updates on Shorty.
This morning while at Ellis Park, I saw the post announcing Came Home had passed away from colic at age 22 on July 8. Shorty is gone. I just hope as Lin Manuel Miranda said in Hamilton, I can see him on the other side..