I’ve referred often to my night-time visit to the Middleburg Training Center last fall, and the acquaintance I was fortunate to make of a woman connected to the training center and the horses who live there. Some of them are babies in training; some are horses resting after a season’s racing; some are recovering after an injury. Allen Jerkens has horses there, as do Howard Whitbred and Christine Brennan, who own a number of horses together, many of which are placed with Jerkens and with Bernardo Callejas.
Lord Langfuhr’s not one of the horses I met in Virginia, but he was owned by Whitbred and Brennan and trained by Callejas, one of the Middleburg family, so to speak, and I followed him as closely as I followed my favorite, Duchess of Rokeby, and her stablemates Irish Blast, who burst onto the Aqueduct scene this past winter, and Above All Odds, who is expected to make his first start within the next few months.
On April 17th, Lord Langfuhr won his last race under his favorite jockey, Jorge Chavez. He was the favorite and bobbled at the break, but nonetheless prevailed by a neck. He trailed for most of the race and even in the stretch you probably wouldn’t have given him a shot, but he ran up the rail to challenge the leaders, finishing gamely, as his chart so often noted. You can watch that race at CalRacing. Register for free, and watch the eighth race at Aqueduct.
Racing 49 times, Lord Langfuhr compiled a 9 – 7 – 8 record, finishing worse than fifth only nine times; this son of Langfuhr and Palace Lady certainly earned his keep, banking $420,633 in his five-year career. He was ridden by twelve jockeys in those 49 starts; Jorge Chavez rode him nineteen times and to seven of his nine lifetime victories, including a run of three straight in the winter of ’04, culminating with a win in the Alex Robb on New Year’s Eve of that year. This year, Lord Langfuhr raced four times, with a first, a second, and two thirds. You have to go back to December of 2006 for the last time he finished worse than fifth.
Lord Langfuhr made his first start in June of 2003 at Belmont, finishing seventh, and it took him five tries to break his maiden. When he won that final start on April 17th, he made Jerry Bossert’s column in the New York Daily News. Shortly after that race, he came up lame and headed home to Virginia to be retired; last week, the infection he’d contracted damaged his
cannon coffin bone beyond repair, and last Friday, he was euthanized. My Middleburg friend called Friday night to let me know; Lord Langfuhr’s owners are, expectedly, devastated, particularly as the eight-year-old was about to begin a happy retired life on a farm in Virginia.
It was a dismal ending to a dismal week in horse racing, but at the risk of sounding maudlin and melodramatic, I wanted to make sure that Lord Langfuhr did not go invisibly into that good night. He’s no Eight Belles, and the phrase “gutsy gelding” is probably over-used, but he is no less grieved for having made his mark in state-bred races at Aqueduct than those who conquer fields in great glory. RIP, Lord Langfuhr.