Saturday, April 11, 2009

photo by Peggy Maness

1983, b, m,  Exceller—Gantlette by Run the Gauntlet
Trained by Philip Gleaves
Lifetime: Starts 21; Wins 3

Obit: April 11, 2009 - As most of you know by now, we lost Narrow Escape, our first Old Friends retiree, April 11th. I'm sorry it's taken this long for me to write something about a mare whose significance cannot be oversstated. I think it's because she always kept her distance.

It's as if she didn't want anyone to fall in love with her. But the day we met her for the first time is forever etched in memory. She was the last horse remaining at Fasig-Tipton. Alone in her stall.  She was abandoned when she didn't get a bid. Wendy Rice, then an executive at Fasig-Tipton, called us and asked if we would take this daughter of Exceller named Narrow Escape.  Even though our primary duty was to stallions, how could we refuse a mare whose name resonated with so much historic poetry? 

Even though she was in a difficult state, she never lost her dignity. She always had a self-contained sense of self-respect that requested everyone to keep their distance. She walked on to the trailer with me, while Diane and the Sallee Van driver watched. A real pro. We drove her to our first facility at Afton Farm in Scott County and she made all the subsequent moves to Hurstland and Dream Chase calmly and without incident.

On that sunny Saturday, when she decided to give up. I'll never forget the look in her eye. It was the same look she had five years ago. Don't worry, it said, I can take care of myself.   - Michael

Our first acquisition, Narrow Escape is Old Friends' Grand Dame. As the daughter of Exceller, a black-type winner of over $1 million whose life—like Ferdinand's—ended in a slaughterhouse, she is a living reminder of our efforts.

At 21, the former allowance horse ended up on the block at February 2004 Fasig-Tipton sale. When she failed to meet her $1000 reserve, we rushed to make her our principal retiree. Not only was she the daughter of Exceller, but her name also reflected the possible destiny of future paddock mates. We never did buy her, though, as owner Barbara Frank, of Ocala-based Frank's Farm, intervened and donated the mare to our program.  

Narrow Escape at Afton Farm photo by Kathy Vespaziani of