Retired Thoroughbreds, Happy Endings

by Richard Hackerman

Richard Hackerman is an attorney and horse owner.  His previous piece on one of his retirees, Mississippi Storm, is here.

Big Red 2.0?  Rock N' Bid struts his stuff.  Photo by Katherine Turnbull.

Big Red 2.0? Rock N’ Bid struts his stuff. Photo by Katherine Turnbull.

Rock N’ Bid could have been a movie star.

A few years ago, I submitted Rock N’ Bid’s photographs to Disney for the part of Secretariat in the movie of the same name. Though taller and not as muscular as the original “Big Red,” Rock N’ Bid’s face and markings are remarkably similar to the superstar horse.

The director called, and I was asked to have Rock N Bid appear in the movie playing the superstar horse.  Unfortunately, Disney’s budget and the horse’s agent’s demands were far different. Rock N’ Bid’s budding movie career was cut short.

A son of the then-new sire Rock and Roll out of a mare that had produced multiple winners, Rock N’ Bid’s looks appealed to me — but not to those with a much keener eye for a racehorse than I when he went through the Timonium sales ring as a yearling in 2004,  So I became his new owner.  Too uncoordinated to race at 2 Rock N’ Bid made his long awaited debut at 3 at Pimlico.

Though only occasionally racing above the $5,000 claiming level, Rock N’ Bid raced 76 times, reaching the winner’s circle on 14 happy occasions, placing 14 times and running third 12 times while earning over $190,000.

He won and placed in numerous races that came off the turf.  So notorious was his knack for having turf races rained off to the main track that it became a running joke with long-time Maryland track announcer David Rodman and handicapper Frank Carulli. His Facebook page had so many friends that Rodman once commented that if you wanted to find out how Rock N’ Bid would do today, simply “friend” him.

When his form tailed off at age 9, we decided to retire Rock N’ Bid, retrain him and find him a home.

TPR volunteer Kathy Coyle was assigned the task of picking up Rock N’ Bid from his home of six years at the Bowie Training Center. Unaware of his abortive acting career, she commented that he was a strikingly handsome chestnut, almost seventeen hands with a long gait.

Indeed, Dr. Coyle told me she wished she could take him but was on horse overload having two other horses in her barn being retrained along with Mississippi Storm.

Rock N' Bid's enjoying his new job.  Photo by Katherine Turnbull.

Rock N’ Bid’s enjoying his new job. Photo by Katherine Turnbull.

The retraining of Rock N’ Bid began with the removal of his shoes and turnout. The first few weeks were difficult for him. Whether it was the heat, the new environment, or the change of routine, I don’t know — but he lost at least 100 pounds.

I commented to Kim Clark, the President of TPR, but she knowingly assured me Rock N’ Bid would be fine and that there was an adjustment process for all retired Thoroughbreds. She also suggested that Rock N Bid would make someone an exceptional show horse. A few weeks later Ms. Clark advised that Dr. Coyle was making room in her barn to adopt him.

Soon thereafter Mississippi Storm and Rock N’ Bid were in adjoining stalls, reuniting this exceptional duo, coined the “Hackerman brothers” by their proud owner, that had spent many years together at Bowie.

Now Rock N’ Bid is in serious training with Mississippi Storm, showing great promise after less than one year with Dr. Coyle, jumping and competing at cross country events. While his movie career never got off the ground, Rock N Bid now elegantly glides over five foot fences and is a star, at least in the eyes of his proud rider and owner, which in the end is really all that matters.

(Featured photograph is also by Katherine Turnbull, whose work is here).