‘He essentially gave us two lives’: beloved ex-racehorse dies at 29.
Chindi was a millionaire on the racetrack but was even more well-known as trainer Steve Hobby’s stable pony for a long time. She died. The 29-year-old snow-white gelding
According to Hobby, Chindi’s physical condition had been deteriorating for several weeks. He also said that he thinks it was caused by a neurological disorder brought on by his old age—something that rarely affects thoroughbred racehorses.
“When he got bad, he went fast,” said Hobby on Friday. “I noticed little things riding him, like he kept bearing left and I had to keep correcting him. He wasn’t putting his hay in his water bucket. He’s done that his whole life. Then he started losing his action in behind. I hadn’t taken him to the track for four or five days. It was neurological. He was going to fall down and not get up.
“I had him out the day before yesterday, in the morning. I just took him out to clean his stall and I almost couldn’t get him back in his stall. He was going to fall down.”
Chindi, who was campaigned by Oklahoman Carol Ricks (Cres Ran), Hobby’s most cherished client, had a record of 18-13-23 from 81 lifetime starts and earned $1,000,838. Ran Leonard, Chindi’s grandson and the person in charge of Cres Ran’s racing operation, informed Ricks, 93, of Chindi’s passing on Thursday night.
“She was very upset,” said Leonard. “I mean, all of us were. But my grandma, she’s obviously an amazing human in every way. But she has this really good knack of immediately turning anything like that around and just commenting on how fortunate we were for everything he gave us during his racing career and post-racing career. And how much he gave to Oaklawn and how much he gave to just racing in general, and as an ambassador for the sport.
“She said something about how he essentially gave us two lives. He had the one life as a racehorse that was amazing and then the whole life as a stable pony. We got more than we could have ever expected out of him. Twenty-nine years is a long time.”
Ran, the late husband of Ricks, bought Chindi privately on the advice of Omar Trevino, a bloodstock agent who came across the horse and his dam, Rousing, while looking at some land near Lexington, Kentucky.
Chindi, which means “ghost” in Navajo, was a late-running sprinter who won seven races at Oaklawn Park, including the Grade 3 1998 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap. Chindi used his trademark stretch kick to win by a length and a half under Don Pettinger after trailing by 11 lengths after the quarter mile and remaining seventh after the half mile.
Earlier in his career, Pettinger, who is now the agent for Oaklawn-based jockey Travis Wales, rode Chindi frequently.
Pretty cool horse,” he said. “He was a lot of fun. Got to where I would just let him fall back and he’d be way back there. When you asked him that last quarter-mile, he’d kick it in and make up a lot of ground. Everybody would think: ‘He’s beat, he’s beat’ because he’d be so far back.”
Chindi made her debut at Oaklawn on March 15, 1997, and she retired in 2005. The gelding did not like retirement at Ricks’ CresRan farm north of Oklahoma City, so he quickly became Hobby’s stable pony, a position he held for almost two decades.
“But again, he never really spent any time there [farm] because he wanted to be at the racetrack with Steve,” said Leonard. “He was every bit as much Steve’s horse as he was ours, if not more. They had a bond that was…can’t put it into words.
“I really don’t believe in this kind of stuff as a general rule, but my grandma has spent the last two weeks going through all these old Chindi photos and trying to organise them and stuff. And then this happened. It’s just kind of like, ‘Was something in that world telling grandma?’ It’s just crazy how things like that happen.”
Chindi’s popularity increased over time, especially at Oaklawn, where he had 24 career starts and was frequently the subject of renowned horse photographer Barbara Livingston. “Chindi Day” was declared by Hot Springs Mayor Pat McCabe on March 15, 2020, giving fans at Oaklawn a chance to see the gelding once more in the winner’s circle and indoor paddock between races. He was already a regular at Oaklawn in the morning, escorting Hobby’s horses to and from the track.
“Absolutely,” Hobby said, when asked if Chindi was more popular after his racing career ended. “I don’t know why. I think longevity is one thing. People got so used to him and he was just always around. It’s like he was immortal. That’s why it’s kind of got everybody that he died. Like, ‘Chindi can’t die. He’s Superman.'”
Hobby stated that he might scatter some of Chindi’s ashes at Oaklawn’s finish line and keep half of them. Hobby said that the other half would go to Ricks.
“It was the right choice, had to be done,” said Hobby. “I did the humane thing. He lived a great life and I’m just going to look back on all the great memories.”
Leonard asks fans to donate to charities that help retire Thoroughbreds in their state in honour of Chindi.
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