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Blog Tales from the LOPE Ranch

Meet Flavor the Ultimate Racing Warrior

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Flavor is the ultimate racing warrior. He’s 11 years old and just retired from racing this month. What an amazing athlete! And yes, Flavor is actually his registered name. Just one word: Flavor. That seems appropriate for a celebrity as big as Flavor (kind of like Elvis).

His history tells the story of a true class horse. Flavor is a Claiborne homebred, with a pedigree full of Thoroughbred royalty. His first race trainer was the famous Al Stall, Jr. In 2009, Flavor broke his maiden with a win at Keeneland. The late, great Garrett Gomez rode him to that victory. Many others soon followed, as Flavor hit the boards regularly over the next eight years.

He ran in 71 races, winning over $300,000. In his last year as a racehorse, Flavor earned $8,285 — which is more than the all other current LOPE horses have won in their combined careers (Our Elegant Song, Oro Rush, Jon’Bonsah, Eli Extraodinaire, Willywillywilly Fast).

Like all vintage pro athletes, Flavor has acquired old sports injuries over the years. He’s ready to enjoy a less speedy job now. Flavor was donated to LOPE so that he can get the time he needs to rest up, rehab and get prepared for that more mellow second career.

Like all vintage pro athletes, Flavor has acquired old sports injuries over the years. He’s ready to enjoy a less speedy job now. Flavor was donated to LOPE so that he can get the time he needs to rest up, rehab and get prepared for that more mellow second career.

But even iron horses have to stop running eventually. Like all vintage pro athletes, Flavor has acquired old sports injuries over the years. He’s ready to enjoy a less speedy job now. Flavor was donated to LOPE so that he can get the time he needs to rest up, rehab and get prepared for that more mellow second career.

A village came together to help Flavor come to LOPE. He ended his track career at Laurel in Maryland (a long distance from Texas). Many people networked for Flavor, posting and sharing his story on social media (where LOPE then heard about him). Track outriders, grooms, racing fans and assistant trainers collaborated to organize Flavor’s speedy and smooth departure from Laurel.

A generous former racing connection donated the entire transport cost to bring Flavor all the way from Maryland. And Johnson Horse Transport gave Flavor a last minute spot on one of their cross-country hauls, fitting him into their complicated schedule with only a few hours notice. Driver extraordinaire Charles Keats delivered Flavor safely to Texas, watching him closely over the long trip.

Flavor is truly a special horse. His racing career is impressive and he has given all his heart (and much of his body) to the sport. Horses like Flavor are rare and should be cherished like the living history they represent. LOPE plans to give Flavor an extended stay here, so he can have the luxury of time for a full transition from the track.

Our vets (the awesome Austin Equine Hospital) examined Flavor earlier this month. He has active tendonitis in his left hind fetlock, four old bowed tendons (one per leg), racing jewelry on his right front fetlock and some arthritis in his hocks. We had his hind fetlock injected (to help the tendonitis). Flavor will need some extended pasture turnout time, to give his body a rest from hard work. If Flavor decides to have a riding job again, he has a solid prognosis to become a walk-trot pleasure horse one day. He also has earned the right to retire, if he wants a permanent vacation.

But that’s up to Flavor. Big personality racing warriors like him tend to be pretty opinionated — so we are going to defer to Flavor’s judgment on what his second career should be. It will be fun to find out, that’s for sure.

LOPE will give him plenty of vacation time while we get to know him, assess his needs and figure out just how large an entourage he needs. He is kind of a big deal, so we also might need to find him a publicist and schedule manager. We expect that fans and autograph seekers will visit him at LOPE. Flavor has requested bling for his special appearances too (which makes sense, since his name is Flavor).

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Flavor will be getting the VIP treatment at LOPE

Seriously — Flavor is truly a special horse. His racing career is impressive and he has given all his heart (and much of his body) to the sport. Horses like Flavor are rare and should be cherished like the living history they represent. LOPE plans to give Flavor an extended stay here, so he can have the luxury of time for a full transition from the track.

How You Can Support Flavor

We are raising funds for Flavor’s long-term sabbatical at LOPE. Too often, the older racing warriors are overlooked — people prefer their OTTB prospects to be young, sound and injury-free. But Flavor will be getting the VIP treatment at LOPE. We would like people to follow Flavor’s progress. His story is a long one, worth watching as it unfolds into the next chapter. And maybe Flavor will inspire other people to take a chance on the racing warriors, the hard knockers and old champions still out there looking for new homes.

Flavor is in Need of:

  • Several months pasture rest
  • Joint supplements
  • At least one more injection in his fetlock in about three months
  • Regular supply of alfalfa, hay and Bluebonnet senior feed
  • Lots of shavings (he likes to roll in fresh ones daily)
  • Ongoing ground work sessions
  • Regular farrier care (he’s barefoot and has good feet)
  • His own grooming kit (preferably monogramed FLAVOR in gold – he’s not subtle)
  • Personalized saddle pad (see above for monogram instructions)
  • Dental float
  • Follow-up vet exams as his rehab progresses (one every 8-12 weeks)
  • His own intern - he’s serious about the entourage (see LOPE Scholarship program here)
  • A videographer (we told him he has to compromise on this one)
  • Lots of swag from tack, feed and barn supply stores
  • A special stall sign that says “FLAVOR IS IN THE HOUSE” (again, he’s not subtle)
  • Assessment and retraining for second career (whatever he decides that will be)
  • A college fund (in case he wants to go back to school)
Make a Donation to Flavor

Donors will automatically become official members of Flavor’s posse. Bling-encrusted caps will be awarded to high-level sponsors (and yes, the caps will say FLAVOR in gold). Special, one-on-one visits with Flavor will be arranged for the most generous and/or Flavor-obsessed donors. Flavor reserves the right to demand that visitors put peppermints in his feed bucket before posing with him for photos.

LOPE and Flavor would like to thank CANTER Maryland, Wendy, Jessica, Fran, Dreux, Shelley, Karen, Kathleen, Linda and Mary for helping Flavor come to Texas. Extra kudos to DJ Johnson & Charles Keats of Johnson Horse Transportation for bringing Flavor safely home on such short notice. As always, much gratitude to Austin Equine Hospital for their dedicated, compassionate care of the LOPE horses (most notably Flavor).

See Flavor’s race record and pedigree.

Sponsors

  • J3 Performance Horses
  • Austin Equine Hospital
  • Johnson Horse Transport
  • Anonymous Flavor Racing Fan
Austin Equine Hospital Sugar Land Stables Schleese
American Association of Equine Technicians and Assistants Paddock Foundation Soft Ride Boots
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Two Socks Designs Moose Pants Studio
Thoroughbred Charities of America Scissortail Hill Equestrian Secretariat Foundation
Blanco River Academy Equine Express Sam Houston Race Park