I was fortunate to find a local hairdresser right before Christmas and visited her this morning. Noticing her photos of dogs and a horse on her desk, I started asking questions and we talked and talked animals. One of the things she told me is that the legendary Man O’ War lived locally at a huge horse farm owned by Samuel Riddle; he was the owner of the horse, one of the greatest race horses of all time. After Mr. Riddles’s death in 1951, his heirs took over the farm. In 19a course of years, the mansion burned to the ground, the horses moved out and the farm was abandoned, left to decay for 30 years until a group of developers purchased the beautiful property and many barns and buildings. Today, what was once home to Man O’ War, his famous son War Admiral and many other record breaking racehorses, as well as the training grounds for such prestigious horses as Seabiscuit is now a huge condominium complex with brand new large homes, golf course and golf club and, best of all, in one of the main barns, a Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
What a coincidence that I had made reservations for Doug and I to go there for dinner for Christmas Eve (not knowing any of this beforehand)!
We went for a drive to see the property in daylight. Terri, my hairdresser told me that the giant metal horseshoe in front of what was the a main barn (which housed an indoor training track) was found in a paddock, overgrown with grass. Now it stands proudly as the entrance way to the restaurant, with a plaque honoring “Big Red” as Man O’ War was known.
It’s strange to drive the road circling the golf course and think of how it was decades ago, with Thoroughbred royalty grazing on the flat fields, Spring crops of Man O’ War’s foals bounding beside their mothers. Now it is sand pits and humps, but the grass is as green as ever.