In Memoriam

Remembering Champion Turkoman

Champion Turkoman at E.A. Ranches with one of his frequent visitors (in spring of 2016)

Turkoman, You Were Loved!

Turkoman, the 1986 Eclipse champion older male, was euthanized due to infirmities of old age December 21 at E.A. Ranches in Ramona, California. The pensioned stallion was 34.

Turkoman won 8 of 22 starts, with 8 seconds and 3 thirds, and earned $2,146,924. Trained by Gary Jones, Turkoman’s 3-year-old season included runner-up finishes in the Swaps (G1) and Travers (G1) stakes; a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup™ Classic (G1); and a win in the Affirmed Handicap (G3).

But it was at 4 that the dark bay son of Alydar shone most brightly. A fan favorite due in part to his 17-hand size and thrilling come-from-behind style, Turkoman won the Oaklawn Handicap (G2), Widener Handicap (G1), and Tallahassee Handicap before running down Precisionist in the Marlboro Cup (G1). Turkoman won by 1 1/2 lengths in 2:00.

Turkoman also finished a fast-closing second to Groovy in the Forego (G2) and to Creme Fraiche in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Favored in that year’s Breeders’ Cup™ Classic (G1), at 1.60-1, Turkoman trailed the field before unleashing a late come-from-behind move in the homestretch. His rally fell short by 1¼ lengths to longshot Skywalker. Lady’s Secret was named Horse of the Year.

Turkoman’s sire, Alydar, was a half-brother to the champion Our Mims; and Turkoman’s dam was Argentinian champion Taba. In November 2004, Olin Gentry donated Taba to the Our Mims Retirement Haven in Paris, Kentucky, where she died 5 months later at age 32.

Turkoman began his breeding career at Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky before moving to California, first to Circle H Ranch, then Mira Loma Thoroughbreds, and then, in 2005, to E. A. Ranches. Pensioned in 2008, Turkoman sired 34 stakes winners, including Peruvian champion Captain Garfio and Grade 1 winners Turk Passer and Man From Wicklow.

After Turkoman’s pensioning, not all of the stallion’s syndicate shareholders agreed to continue to pay toward his care, and he was moved to a different farm. But E. A. Ranches’ farm manager Marguerite Eliasson soon heard from connections there that Turkoman was not doing well, pacing the fence line and losing weight.

Knowing that Our Mims Retirement Haven had housed both Turkoman’s “aunt” Our Mims and his dam Taba, Ms. Eliasson contacted Haven owner and manager Jeanne Mirabito. Through discussions between Eliasson, Mirabito, and Haven director of fund raising and promotion Cheryl Bellucci, a solution was reached: If the syndicate would pay the same amount they were paying to board Turkoman elsewhere, then Eliasson, the Haven, and a diehard Turkoman fan named Sandy Smith, who lived in Michigan, would make up the difference.

Turkoman returned to E. A. Ranches in October 2008.

“There was talk about bringing him to Kentucky, but Turkoman was happiest at E. A. Ranches,” Bellucci recalls. “We were so glad when the syndicate agreed to continue partial payment of his care.”

Carroll Robertson Ray and Rose Hochner Nelson, the daughter and granddaughter of Corbin and Wilhelmina Robertson, Turkoman’s owners during his racing career, provided a grant to the Haven for the nonprofit’s portion of Turkoman’s board.

Turkoman lived out his days at E. A. Ranches, staying in the same paddock and receiving excellent care from his attentive grooms. Before her own retirement, Eliasson visited him daily to feed him some of his favorite treats. The proud stallion received many other callers as well, including Eclipse Award-winning photographer Barbara D. Livingston, who wrote a Daily Racing Form article in 2013 about the then 31-year-old stallion.

Turkoman’s body is being cremated. His cremains will be sent to Our Mims Retirement Haven for burial near his dam, Taba, and his half-sister, Taba Dance, who was also a resident at the Haven.

Mirabito remarked about the stallion: “The great Turkoman may be gone from the Earth, but his blood flows through the veins of many. He will never be forgotten.” She added, “Run fast and free, Turk… down the lane, past the gate, over the mountains and into eternity. “You were loved.”

(Article courtesy  press release)