Louisville Magazine

APR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 4.19 83 with the blond mane and unusual person- ality ingratiated himself in Baton Rouge. "With him, it was kind of hard not to form a personal connection," McCauley says with a laugh. "My kids were in there feeding him peppermints." e Player charmed the hell out of everyone he met, and called on his innate idiosyncrasies to pull him through. "What he did that helped him so much is lay down for hours and hours and hours," McCauley says. "at can make or break things with laminitis. Everybody loved him — the tech staff, the students on rotation. I follow him on Facebook still." at's right, e Player is a sensation on social media. His story caught on quickly among racing fans and horse lovers. And when it came time to bring e Player back to Kentucky, Bradley was along for the ride — literally in the back of the van again with e Player. Bradley rode 800 miles in a horse trailer from Baton Rouge to Frankfort, and documented segments of the journey to post on Facebook. At one point, Bradley questioned the driver in traffic around Nashville. "Angus and I wanna know why the hell we're slow- in' down." On video, e Player looks calm and happy, the wind from an open window whipping through his mane. And every once in a while, he nods his head up and down rapidly, which seems to be code for "more peppermints please." Bradley, playing the role of the doting flight atten- dant, obliges. One of e Player's fans on Facebook offered the weary travelers quarter as they made their journey back to Ken- tucky. e farm had a stabling area for e Player, and when the host wouldn't hear of Bradley and his driver getting a hotel down the road, they crashed in a guest bedroom. I meet e Player on March 1, 2019. His temporary breeding res- idence is Crestwood Farm in Lexington. (For breeding purposes, Indian Ridge houses mares, not stallions.) at right front leg is healthy enough to make it possible for little Players to be born. Less than a year from his breakdown in New Orleans, the whole story seems more than a little uncanny. Crestwood, too, is a family-owned operation, and second-generation horse- man Marc McLean shows me around the farm on this cold and damp Friday morning. He coaxes e Player out of his stall. e horse is imposing, but stoic. He's got the usual rambunctious- ness of a stallion, but it's all controlled energy. He tugs playfully at the lead shank and gazes off into the distance. e Player arrived at Crestwood Jan. 8 and hasn't actually bred a mare yet. He is just learning the ropes. ere's a daily routine, including being "pre- sented" mares to excite his libido. e laid-back McLean explains that male horses on the racetrack are often taught not to exhibit breeding behaviors, so all the practice and preparation is as if to say, "Help yourself, big guy. You've earned it." "He acts like he's lived here his whole life," McClean says. "He's just so easy on himself – he's such a smart horse." at disposition surely saved his life. e Player's repaired right foreleg is easily double the size of its three coun- terparts, thanks to the surgical hardware, but he moves comfortably enough. In fact, he's still able to perform an occa- sional jog and trot while being turned out in his spacious paddock. ere are a few special considerations for those tasked with his daily care, but mostly e Player is treated like every other stal- lion at Crestwood. e future plans for the horse are tentative and modest: Breed a few mares this season, then reunite with Bradley in Frankfort. And as they say: When you set something free and it comes back to you, it's yours forever. Bradley with The Player druing recovery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Player today, on all fours in Crestwood.

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