Canadian Fan Favorite Pink Lloyd Settling Into Retirement At LongRun

It seemed strange to this Woodbine visitor to tour the backstretch ahead of the Aug. 20 Queen’s Plate and not finish off the morning with a peek at Pink Lloyd on the training track. I’d only been here once before, but the beloved chestnut was a fixture who would appear toward the end of training hours like clockwork, doing his work with the oval as empty as possible, with trainer Robert Tiller looking on. Many on the backstretch could probably set their watches by him.

Pink Lloyd became a fan favorite, running 38 races with 29 wins in a career that spanned six racing seasons. He took his final bow with a win in the Group 2 Kennedy Road on Nov. 27, 2021, and relocated to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society a few days later.

Now, more than nine months later, his caretakers say he might have finally figured out that he’s retired.

Because racing in Ontario is seasonal, Pink Lloyd and many others take a break in winter and early spring, so LongRun handler Tania Veenstra says that at first, she thinks the great gelding believed his time at the facility was just his same old vacation with different scenery.

“In March, he was like ‘Isn’t it time to train again?’” she remembered. “He was a bit more antsy. But now I think he has worked through that and is in a great routine. I think now he spends his day in the paddock and the racetrack isn’t in his mind.”

“Pink” or “Pinky” as he’s sometimes known, shares a paddock with Riker, fellow Sovereign Award winner who retired last summer. When Pinky first arrived, the staff at LongRun wondered what the best turnout arrangement would be for their resident super star, who had not been turned out with another horse in quite some time. Riker turned out to be the perfect fit.

“He’s a little sassy,” said Veenstra of Riker. “That’s why he was such a great racehorse.

“They’re equals. They play stallion together but can be grazing beside each other and be the best of friends.”

And he doesn’t seem to mind being upstaged by his best buddy.

Riker with Vicki Pappas, board chairperson and founding member of LongRun. Natalie Voss Photo

“Riker is confident in his own self,” said Veenstra. “He doesn’t think he’s second fiddle. He knows who he is.”

A big part of their chemistry is the class both top achievers exude. Veenstra said graded stakes horses like Pinky and Riker – and LongRun has seen quite a few of them – are just different. They carry themselves with authority, and seem to know they’re special. Riker doesn’t mind the attention Pinky gets, and they both enjoy a quick gallop and a few hops after morning turnout. They’re also both fans of the game I call ‘Bitey Face,’ where each tries to grab the cheekpiece on the other’s halter, snaking their necks and hopping back and forth, often to the detriment of their clothing. Indeed, Pinky’s distinguished nameplate is bent from Riker’s mischief-making, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

COVID-19 has limited the farm’s ability to welcome visitors as they may have done in a more normal year, but Pinky has been a draw for fans anyway. All the residents at LongRun are familiar with carrots, and despite getting more than his share of them, Pinky takes them daintily from outstretched palms.

He also gets regular visits from people he knows. Tiller comes to see him, and his former groom, Michelle Gibson, comes by often with his favorite snack – McIntosh apples.

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“I think he recognizes her when she comes,” Veenstra said. “It’s really cool to see him recognize the people who cared for him.”

Pinky’s days now are filled with contemplative gazes out his stall window as he observes the antics of the barn cats. He goes outside with full fly gear, as he has demonstrated a sensitivity to the insects. He has no aversion to mud, and enjoys a good roll whenever he gets the chance.

He spends nights inside, and if he’s lucky he will come inside to a little pile of carrots and apples arranged by Veenstra on his nighttime hay.

After the thrills he brought Canadian racing fans, he deserves to live the good life – and so he is.

The post Canadian Fan Favorite Pink Lloyd Settling Into Retirement At LongRun appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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