Secret Lives of Horses: Aug-Sept 2015

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Curry – The Mayor

By Lindsey Ryon


Every barn has a horse that is – or thinks he is – the dictator, the boss of the pasture, the supervisor of the steeds. They have made it official at Pamela O’Neil’s Two Magnolia Farms in Aiken. Curry, owned by Amy Hebert, is also known as the Mayor of Two Magnolias. This 22-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred has definitely earned that title.


Curry started out life with excellent bloodlines. Registered as Currency Arbitrage, Curry’s dam was Damarelle by King’s Bishop. His sire was Green Dancer, a son of Nijinsky who raced in England and on the European continent and was the leading sire in France in 1991. Curry was born at Sunnyfield Farm in Bedford, New York in 1993.

Like most Thoroughbred youngsters, Curry’s career began at the racetrack, where he showed early promise. He made his first starts at Saratoga in 1995, when he was 2. He broke his maiden there in his second race, going off the favorite and putting away the field by 10 lengths. After Saratoga, it was off to stakes races at the Meadowlands and Belmont Park where he finished in the middle of the pack, and then an allowance race at Aqueduct, where he won again, this time by eight lengths. That winter, he raced in Florida, winning again in the Citation Stakes at Hialeah Park in April before going back North to race in prestigious stakes races and allowances in Maryland, New York and New Jersey. He even shipped to California, where he ran in the $500,000 Grade I Crown Royal Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park.

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Throughout a racing career that lasted until 2001, he ran primarily in New York and New Jersey with his trainer Gary Sciacca, then traveled to Florida with his trainer Dennis J. Manning, where he had some time off. He racked up a total of 36 starts, including six wins, six seconds and four thirds. In addition to the Citation Stakes, he also won the Ashley T. Cole and the West Point Handicaps in Saratoga, earning himself the title of multiple stakes winner. With earnings of $343,902, it was time for Curry to move on to his next adventure.

Amy Hebert exercised horses at Monmouth Park racetrack in New Jersey for 20 years. One day while she was at the track, Dennis Manning came to her and said he had a beautiful chestnut gelding that needed a home. Curry, owned at that time by Earle Mack, had fractured his right front splint bone, ending his racing career. It was rare for Amy to have a morning off, but she had a feeling that this horse would be worth it, and she was ready to have a project.

“I found some time to go look at him,” said Amy. “I walked in his stall and he picked his head up and looked right at me. I immediately knew, and I said ‘I’ll take him!’ Despite his injury, I knew he was something special, and he is. “

Curry’s adventurous life with Amy began right away. She agreed have his splint bone surgically repaired and to provide him with a lifelong, loving home. His surgery was done at the New Jersey Equine Clinic, and after a few months of healing, Curry was sound again and ready to go. Both Curry and Amy were anxious to find their calling as a team, what they were meant to be doing together.

“When I got him, I knew I wanted to do the jumpers with him,” said Amy. “He was a little tricky. He was too quick for the hunters, and of course I would never fox hunt with him, because we would probably out-run the fox. With all the racetrack wear and tear, I never asked him to jump over 3 feet; I never felt the need to.

“My favorite moment with Curry was probably the day I beat my trainer in a “Power and Speed” class. It was a great feeling! We were always good on the clock – I think from his racing experience and mine as a track exerciser – it’s like we had built-in clocks in our heads.”

Curry enjoyed his second career, which involved almost as much traveling as his racing career. New Jersey was too cold in the winter, so Amy and Curry always headed South. Some winters Curry would come to Aiken, where he stayed on Two Notch Road downtown, in a stable owned by the famous racehorse trainer Mike Freeman. One year he and Amy traveled to Ocala, Fla. Curry always loaded right on the trailer with enthusiasm, as if he was ready to go on the next adventure.

Each spring season, the pair would head back to New Jersey where Amy planned her show and event schedule based around her job at the racetrack. Amy says they were always in the ribbons in the 3-foot schooling jumpers at Monmouth County Horse Show Association shows. They enjoyed trail riding and hunter paces just as much as being in the show ring. In fact, the open trail is where Curry seemed the happiest because Cricket and Brisco, a Jack Russell Terrier and a Lab/Collie mix, were able to tag along.

After about ten years, Curry seemed ready to move on to something else again.

“I guess it was when he was about 17,” said Amy. “We were down here in Aiken for the winter, and I just noticed him slowing down a bit, from his joints to his back. I knew it was a good time to retire him. I had a friend, Jill Fitzpatrick, in North Carolina, with a retired OTTB that would be the perfect pasturemate.”

Jill, whose farm is in Pamlico County on the coast, introduced Curry to her faithful retiree, Story, and the two became the best of friends. After about four years, however, Story became ill and had to be put down. At around the same time, Amy and her husband, C.P. Doremus, moved to Aiken full-time. Once they were settled, Curry came to stay in Aiken for the beginning of another adventure – this one a luxurious retired life.

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Ruling the roost at Two Magnolia Farms, Curry has Mac, a fellow retiree as a pasture buddy. He spends most of his time keeping tabs on all the barn happenings. “He usually gets a rinse, then gets turned loose to roam as he wants,” says Pamela O’Neil. “He makes his rounds past each pasture to check on everyone. I love having my place set up to be able to do that.”

Amy, who is now the owner of Aiken Saddlery, visits with Curry regularly.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better partner for such a significant part of my life,” she said. “He always did what I asked of him. He had a great career, before he was with me and during our time together. He’s got a great personality. He taught me a lot. He is a pretty solid citizen, an all-around great guy. And so far he has thoroughly enjoyed his life of leisure.”

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Curry lives up to his barn title as the Mayor. Everyone wants to be the boss, the Mayor, but sometimes they have nothing to show for it. Curry does; he’s got the mileage and he’s got the attitude!

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