BENBURB 1989 - 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

              photo by Beth Shannon

1992 Canadian Horse of the Year

Dr. Carter - Rosedon - Vice Regent   gr/r

Obit from press release:
Benburb was euthanized due to complications from melanomas on August 1st at Haygard Equine Medical Center in Lexington. He was 23. 

A homebred for Steve Stavro’s Knob Hill Stables, Benburb (Dr. Carter – Rosedon by Vice Regent) finished his racing career with seven wins out of 22 starts and earnings of $1,159,904.

In 1992 the 3-year-old Benburb stunned fans at the Fort Erie racecourse in Ontario when he wore down Queen’s Plate winner Alydeed on a muddy track to win the Prince of Wales Stakes.

That same year the Phil England trainee had another thrilling upset win, this one in the GR2 Molson Export Million where he knocked off a blue-chip field that included eventual U.S. Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, Alydeed, and GR1 winner Technology.

For his efforts Benburb earned the Sovereign Award as the Canadian Horse of the Year as well as Champion 3-year-old male honors.

The gray gelding had been retired at Old Friends since 2008. Catherine Perkins, farm manager of Perkins-Mackey Stables in Bourbon County, donated him to the facility. “We’re so happy Benny got to live out his life as a champion,” said Perkins.

"We were really blessed to have retired Benburb," said Old Friends founder and president, Michael Blowen. "He was the kindest of them all. He was farm manager Janet Beyersdorfer’s favorite, so he was the Teacher's Pet. When his time came, we returned his kindness. And he was grateful. He is irreplaceable."

Obit from Val's Blog:
As most of you may know, we lost our friend Bennie this week. By now, plenty has been written and said about Benburb, the Canadian champion and winner of over a million dollars. He was victorious over AP Indy and any number of other terrific racehorses during his career, and has been at Old Friends for several years now.

Bennie, like many gray horses, had melanoma and in the end the disease was too much for him. But the melanomas never seemed to bother him, and I often told people that Bennie had no idea those lumps on his body were an issue. He just wanted to enjoy his life, and he did. By the time I knew him Benburb the sleek racehorse had become a big, wide-bodied gelding; I always thought he would have made a terrific pleasure riding horse. Or even better, put a fancy silver-laden western saddle on him and some sparkle on his hoofs–he would have been a great old-time TV cowboy’s horse. Silver, Champ or Trigger would have had nothing on Bennie.

The thing about Benburb is it never mattered who was around him, what horses he was turned out with or what treatments he needed to receive. He was the same to everyone—kind, sweet, unassuming. I remember introducing him to some student farriers a year or so back. I told them a little about his racing career while his feet were trimmed. The whole time, Bennie nuzzled the person holding his lead rope, and when his feet were done, the farrier took the time to introduce Bennie to all the other students. That horse just had that kind of effect—once you knew Bennie, even a little, you wanted everyone else to know how special he was as well. People often assume that Thoroughbreds are a high strung breed, and certainly some Thoroughbreds are, but Bennie was the complete opposite. I have never known any horse, of any breed, that was calmer, gentler or less troublesome than our Bennie.

Bennie was kind of a calm, wise old uncle with other horses–he was the one tapped to pair up with young horses just off the track, and he would show them the pasture ropes. It didn’t matter if the youngster was aggressive, high-strung, or tightly wrapped. Bennie just did his thing and calmed the situation down. Bennie’s first young ward was Smokey Stover, and since then he has been paired with any number of bays and chestnuts. But I still think of him with Smokey–the white horse and the black one, contentedly grazing side by side.

During his time at Old Friends, Bennie lived in various stalls and paddocks all over the main farm and at the various annex farms nearby, depending on where his special skill set was needed. Most recently, Bennie lived at the annex farm in Midway, a couple stalls down from my friend Wallenda. While Bennie thought carrots were great, I always made a point to save a couple of Wallenda’s mints for him. That Bennie did love his mints!

You know, when some horses die, they leave a behind an empty space that no other horse can fill. And I mean that literally—I will only ever think of Black Tie Affair in “his” stall. Flying Pidgeon always occupies his paddock, no matter who else uses it. For me, Awad’s paddock will always be Awad’s, and Fortunate Prospect will forever be napping in the field behind the farm’s office. In my mind, Bennie will always be the distinctive, big white horse in a misty paddock next to some barn, teaching his newest buddy how to just be a horse.    -Val


From the Gaelic Beann Bhorb, meaning “defiant cliff,” the castled village Benburb is in County Tyrone, Ireland, but the equine athlete Benburb was 1992 Horse of the Year in Canada. Racing for Steve Stavro’s Knob Hill Stable, Ben carried the blue silks with gold sash and starburst later carried by 1999 Horse of the Year, Thornfield. Eventually, the two champions would find a home in neighboring paddocks at Old Friends.

First trained by Jerome C. Meyer, Ben found himself gradually, maturing into a graded stakes winner under trainer Phil England. First came his Prince of Wales (G2) victory at Fort Erie, Ontario, where he turned the tables on Alydeed, against whom he’d been gaining in the Queen’s Plate (G2) a few weeks earlier. Benburb’s next victory brought glory when he beat A. P. Indy in the 1992 Molson Export Million (G2) at Woodbine. Ben’s regular jockey, Larry Attard, was off mounts due to an injury, so Richard Dos Ramos picked up the ride. Thereafter, each jockey would guide the strong-closing roan to more wins. Ben’s prowess earned him the title of 1992 Canadian Horse of the Year—and he’d beaten the 1992 American Horse of the Year, A. P. Indy. At 4 Benburb won the Durham Cup (G2) at Woodbine and got seconds in the Eclipse Handicap (G3) and Fair Play Breeder’s Cup (G2). In all, he earned $1,159,904, with a best distance of 1 1/8 miles. Fort Erie celebrates his excellence with the annual running of the Benburb Stakes.

By 2009, when he came to Old Friends, Ben had serious issues from melanoma (a particular risk to gray horses). His gentleness inspired affection from all, but the ailing 20 year old seemed subdued. That is, until he met 6 year old Smokey Stover. Young and old, black and white, the two took to each other at once, galloping over the grass every evening like carefree kids.  Whatever may come, Ben’s found joy.

gr 1981
gr 1967
gr 1959
ch 1955
b 1976
br 1961
ch 1957
gr 1983
ch 1967
b 1961
ch 1958
ro 1976
gr 1969
b 1966
Pedigree generated by

Bred in Canada by Knob Hill Stables. Foaled Feb. 9, 1989

22 Starts, 7 Wins, 2 Places, 4 Shows. Career Earnings: $1,159,904

Racing Owner: Knob Hill Stables
Trainers: Phillip England, Jerome C. Meyer
Jockeys: L. Attard, others

Championship title: 1992 Horse of the Year in Canada

Biggest wins: Prince of Wales (G2) 1992, Molson Million (G2) 1992, Durham Cup (G2) 1993

Joined Old Friends: July 2009