Secretariat

Invasor – A Life Changing Horse

I am not a collector of memorabilia and have never purchased a single item…until now. When two of the shoes worn by Invasor in the Suburban Handicap came up for sale on eBay from the extensive collection of the Estate of Julie Albright, I approached my friend and fellow Invasor lover Dianne Boothe and mentioned to her I would be willing to go half with her on the pair of shoes. The bidding kept increasing in the final minutes, but a savvy Dianne got the last bid in right at the buzzer and we had our shoes. To understand why these particular shoes were so important to me, you have to read the column to discover the importance of Invasor in my life and learn of his amazing journey that brought us together in such a profound way. ~ Steve Haskin

Invasor – A Life Changing Horse

By Steve Haskin

There are many ways a horse can make an impact on your life. I can think of Damascus, who paved my way into the new and exciting world of Thoroughbred racing and became my newest sports hero replacing every two-legged athlete I had ever idolized. The path that Damascus paved would not only dramatically change my life, but save it in so many ways. I can think of Graustark, whose brief racing career was before my time, but, along with Damascus, was the favorite horse of the person who introduced me to the Sport of Kings, so both became my favorites. When I applied for a job at the old Morning Telegraph and was rejected because of my inability to type, if I hadn’t asked for a copy of Graustark’s past performances and met the head librarian, who eventually took me in as his assistant, I never would have been hired and would have continued on my path to nowhere.

In 1969, there was Arts and Letters and Gallant Bloom who helped me get through a bleak year of unemployment and no hope for the future. They both provided me with an escape from the harsh realities of being a lost 22 year old with no skills. Later that year I was hired as a copy boy at the Morning Telegraph as a stepping stone to becoming assistant librarian.

So, as you can see it was Damascus, Graustark, Arts and Letters, and Gallant Bloom who in their own way joined forces to change my life and open the portal to another world and all the miracles I would encounter there, such as my beautiful wife of 40 years, my amazing daughter, my precious grandson, and a career that reached far beyond my wildest imagination. None of it would have happened without horse racing.

I am not putting Invasor in this elite company, but that doesn’t mean he did not have an impact on my life, as well as the lives of my wife and daughter. I first was introduced to Invasor when I covered his victory in the Suburban Handicap for The Blood-Horse. All I knew was that he was the undefeated Uruguayan Triple Crown winner who had been purchased by Shadwell and brought to America, where he captured the Pimlico Special in his U.S. debut. After the Suburban, I became captivated by Invasor’s story. As he moved closer to the Breeders’ Cup Classic after winning the Whitney, I began researching him extensively, making several connections in Uruguay, mainly his former co-owner Pablo Hernandez, racing historian Luis Costa Baleta, and one of the country’s leading owner-breeders, Ariel Gianola, all of whom I e-mailed with on a regular basis.

By the time the Breeders’ Cup rolled around, I knew everything about the horse and had become very close to my new Uruguayan friends. I do admit, however, I had to look at a map of South America to find out the location of Uruguay, which was no more than a tiny appendage hanging off the southern tip of Brazil, across the Rio de la Plata from Argentina.

Pablo Hernandez and a group of Uruguayans journeyed to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup, and when Invasor upset the heavy favorite Bernardini in the Classic it was pure bedlam in the winner’s circle, and when Pablo, disheveled and delirious with excitement, saw me he hugged me like I was the long lost brother he hadn’t seen in years. He had me pose with the group, along with media members from Argentina where Invasor was bred, for a photo as they waved the Uruguayan flag, continuously shouting “Een-vah-SOR!”

“This is unbelievable,” Pablo shouted above the din. “This is the greatest experience of my life, and always will be. Invasor is still in the hearts of everyone in Uruguay. We are a small, modest country, and we need an idol. We have no idol in football and no idol in politics. Invasor is the idol of Uruguay. He is the ‘Horse of the Rio de la Plata.”

Also cheering wildly for Invasor were thousands of racing fans who had flocked to Maronas Racetrack in Uruguay, where Invasor made the first five starts of his career, and to San Isidro Race Course in Argentina to watch the Classic via simulcast.

“You can’t imagine how excited the fans were about Invasor’s victory,” Luis Costa Baleta, also a horse owner from a long-standing Uruguayan racing family, said after watching the race in Uruguay. “I shouted as if it were my own horse winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Since Invasor has gone to the United States, every time he’s run, all the simulcast halls have been crowded with people who came to see him and bet on him. They shout and cheer for him as if Uruguay was playing in the finals of the World Cup. No one can imagine what it’s like. He’s become a national hero.”

I remained in contact with my new friends from Uruguay for the remainder of Invasor’s career, which included victories in the Donn Handicap and Dubai World Cup before an injury forced his retirement with six consecutive Grade 1 victories and a Horse of the Year title to his credit.

Later in 2007, I was contacted by Luis Costa Baleta, affectionately known as Panchito, inviting me and my family to come to Uruguay as guest of The Uruguayan Jockey Club. We would spend 12 days there, culminating with the country’s biggest race, the Gran Premio Jose Pedro Ramirez. I was no longer the adventuresome lad of my youth who had traveled to England, Ireland, France, and Dubai, and had no desire to partake in such a long journey, but my wife and daughter were so excited by it I had no choice but to capitulate and embark on the journey.

We now fast forward to the night of the Ramirez. The strains of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” blared over the public address system, as jockey Carlos Mendez, aboard the Ramírez winner Rock Ascot, stood up in the saddle, flung his arms up in victory, and tossed rose petals from the victory blanket in the air. The massive crowd at Maroñas Racetrack let out a mighty roar to salute the victors.

With the music still resounding throughout the track, the winning connections—owner, breeder, trainer, and jockey and their friends and families—were driven in antique automobiles to the makeshift winner’s podium on the track in front of the grandstand. Alongside the podium was a mounted military band in decorative uniforms and cascos (headgear) playing drums, bugles, tubas, and other instruments.

With the fans still applauding and taking pictures, the winners were presented their trophies. Standing along the rail, my wife and daughter and I were engulfed by the cheers, the music, and the on-track festivities. It was at this point that my daughter said, “All that’s missing are fireworks.”

Sure enough, seconds later, an explosion of fireworks from behind the podium lit up the darkening blue sky that had already become illuminated by the lights of the racetrack. It was a moment that was both spectacular and surreal—a fitting conclusion to a magical day that saw skydivers rain down on the racetrack carrying banners and flags. The spectacle of Ramírez day was all too real. The surrealism was due in part to the fact that we were in Uruguay, the country whose location I had to look up on a map.

Our trip included visits to the Riviera-like resort of Punta del Este, where the rich and famous congregate each summer; the amazing Casapueblo, where nature and art meet to form a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, and images nestled along Uruguay’s tranquil coastline; and the historic, charming town of Colonia, where you can see spectacular sunsets and the lights from Buenos Aires across the Rio del la Plata that separates Uruguay and Argentina. Our home base, the capital city of Montevideo, has miles and miles of beaches that come alive each day with people jogging, walking, riding bicycles, and strolling with their dogs along the palm tree-lined Rambla. Joan and Mandy looked forward to walking to the beach every morning while I sat on the Rambla people watching. With Uruguay being populated by so many people of European descent you could very well feel as if you are in Miami Beach rather than South America.

During our stay, I was treated like a rock star. I gave a seminar at Maronas Racetrack that was later shown on the evening news, was interviewed by ESPN South America, presented the trophy for one of undercard stakes, was given tours of the top breeding farms, where they rolled out the red carpet for us, preparing amazing feasts, and stayed at the finest five-star hotels. Every want and need was taken care of. We also visited the small stable where Invasor resided, which was located right in the middle of the neighborhood surrounding Maronas. Panchito, who seemed to know everyone in the racing community, served as our guide.

It was at some point during the trip that it hit me. Everything I was experiencing was due to one horse. It was through my articles on Invasor and the contacts I had made in Uruguay that all of this was made possible.

It was a joy to witness the passion for the horse and the sport 6,000 miles away in a small country most Americans know little or nothing about. When racing ceased for 10 years in Uruguay because of economic reasons, and there was no pari-mutuel wagering or purse money, the owners still raced their horses just for the sport of it. Although located in a poor neighborhood, Maronas, with its white cement walls, is looked upon as a shrine by the local residents, who would never desecrate it in any way. Inside those white walls is one of the most well-kept, picturesque, and modern racetracks you’ll see anywhere, complete with a high-tech simulcasting facility and even supervised play areas for younger and older children. As you walk through the ornate main entrance and into the beautiful lobby, there in front of you is a bust of Invasor.

To truly appreciate this story, however, you have to know something about Invasor and his remarkable journey that eventually brought us together.

Pablo Hernandez, who owned the son of Candy Stripes–Quendom, by Interprete, in partnership with brothers Juan Luis and Luis Alberto Vio Bado, recalled how his magical journey with Invasor began one morning outside of Buenos Aires.

“We had flown to Argentina and were scheduled to take a small plane to La Biznaga Farm, where we were going to look at horses,” he said. “But the plane had engine failure and the trip was canceled. Our friend, Miguel Ezcurra, from Bullrich Auctioneers, took us by car to visit some smaller farms near Buenos Aires. After having seen some 80 colts and fillies at several farms, we went to Haras Clausan in Areco, a province of Buenos Aires, and that’s where we met Invasor. Immediately, it was as if we had been hit with Cupid’s arrow. We just fell in love with him.”

Sandro Mizeroqui, owner of Haras Clausan, which has since been renamed Haras Santa Ines, was asking $25,000 for the horse. Hernandez and the Vio Bados offered $18,000, and both parties eventually settled for $20,000. “We purchased him and exported him to Maronas Racetrack in Uruguay,” Pablo said. “Our lucky strike had begun.”

Invasor took Hernandez and the Vio Bado brothers on a ride they will never forget. In his five races in Uruguay, Invasor, trained by Anibal San Martin, won at five different distances from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 9/16 miles. His average margin of victory was five lengths. His jockey, the veteran Gustavo Duarte, who is one of the leading riders in Uruguay, called Invasor the best horse he’d ever ridden.

Invasor’s accomplishments were all the more remarkable considering his winning streak was interrupted by a fractured right hind sesamoid that required surgery.

In December 2005, after sweeping the Uruguayan Triple Crown in brilliant fashion, Hernandez was contacted by Shadwell, wanting to buy Invasor and fly him to Dubai, targeting the UAE Derby (UAE-II). Shadwell’s offer was for $1.5 million, which is a great deal of money in Uruguay, considering Invasor’s total earnings there were $114,070. It was Henandez’s hope to run him in the upcoming Gran Premio Jose Pedro Ramirez, for 3-year-olds and up, but Shadwell’s offer was too lucrative to turn down.

“I have faced many challenges and dilemmas in my life,” Hernandez said. “But surely, the uncertainty of whether or not to sell Invasor gave me many sleepless nights. To be one of the co-owners of a Triple Crown winner is something that rarely happens to a Thoroughbred owner, especially in Uruguay. After so many decades of not having a Triple Crown winner, to suddenly realize that your horse has become a national hero to the enthusiastic Uruguayan racing fans is very shocking.”

“There is no time to think when somebody offers you this kind of deal,” Hernandez said. “I was so undecided what to do, but Sheikh Hamdan was waiting for my answer. I called my friend, Miguel Ezcurra, and all he said to me was, ‘You know what you have to do.’

Ultimately the deal was finalized and Hernandez came to the realization that Invasor’s future racing conquests would take place in the Shadwell colors.

“I have thousands of images of Invasor in my memory–some that make me weep and others that bring me much happiness. But the bitter memory is the day I had to say farewell to him after traveling with him on the van to the airport. It was a silent farewell, because inside our souls, none of us wanted Invasor leaving our lives. Every time he ran at Maronas, the fans filled the racetrack to watch him run and to try to touch him and take pictures with him. They even tried to get strands of his hair as a souvenir.”

Sad farewells were nothing new to Hernandez. On one occasion, however, it was he who was leaving and the bitter memories belonged to his grandmother.

“The day Invasor departed reminded me of that day years ago when I, like many Uruguayans, emigrated to Europe,” Hernandez recalled. “I had graduated from dentistry school and went to Spain for a post-graduate in dental surgery. I remember how my grandmother cried silently the day I left. I can understand how she felt, because I felt the same way the day I had to say goodbye to Invasor. It was like saying goodbye to a son you were never going to see again. Although the plane left very early in the morning, a lot of people showed up at the airport to say their goodbyes to Invasor.

“The reason why we sold him was not only about the money. Here in Uruguay there isn’t much possibility to develop a great champion, and I wanted to give him the big opportunity to prove that he was a great horse. We would never have been able to go with him to the United States to run; it is too expensive for us. So, I was backed into a corner. I had no other choice.”

So, Invasor was gone, arriving at trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s barn at Palm Meadows training center in Florida. There to greet him was McLaughlin’s brother (and assistant) Neal and his wife Trish.

Trish, who also is an assistant trainer, recalled that day when a van pulled up to their barn and out walked a light-framed colt, covered in a thick winter coat. All they thought of when they laid eyes on this Uruguayan import was, what kind of allowance conditions can they find for him. He surely did not look like a stakes horse. But Sheikh Hamdan and his racing manager Rick Nichols wanted to throw him right into the deep water in the Pimlico Special, and that was the beginning of what was to become an extraordinary string of Grade 1 victories.

“After he arrived, we gave him UlcerGard and GastroGard. He got the best of everything–hay at $30 a bale and the best care in the world,” Trish McLaughlin said.

Some 10 months later, there was Invasor reunited in victory with his former owner and atop the racing world on two continents. That would become three continents five months later in Dubai.

Early in 2007, I never went to Belmont Park without first stopping in to visit Invasor along with Dianne, who always came with bags of mints. It was during those visits that I discovered what a remarkable horse this was.

As soon as Dianne entered the barn, he knew what was coming. Invasor liked attention and liked being petted, but he also would bite. Somehow, and I may be guilty of anthropomorphism and a touch of romanticism, but he figured out how to avoid one in order to get the other.

As we approached his stall, all Dianne had to do was point to his hay rack. Invasor would reach over and grab a large chunk of hay. After stuffing as much as he could in his mouth, he would freeze in that position, with his mouth still wide open and locked onto the hay rack. He then would turn his eye toward us. As long as you’d pet him he’d remain in that odd position without moving. Once you stopped stroking him, he’d wait a few seconds and either let go of the hay or rip out a hunk and drop it on the floor, indicating he had no desire to eat the hay and was using it almost as a pacifier while being petted.

It seems presumptuous to attempt to interpret a horse’s thought process, so I’ll just conclude by saying this was the most bizarre, almost human-like, behavior I’ve seen from a horse. But we’re all guilty of humanizing animals to a degree.

I never could have imagined how far the bond I formed with Invasor would take me, beginning with the Suburban Handicap. Because of this remarkable animal, I met many people in a faraway land that I now consider close friends. I discovered a new culture, new food, and a new, vibrant world of Thoroughbred racing that rekindled the feelings I had for the sport back in the late 1960s, when all seemed so pure and innocent. But most of all I discovered myself.

I still think of Invasor, and especially Uruguay and sharing such a wondrous experience with my family. And when I do I cannot remove that one thought from my head: it was all because of a horse. Perhaps those are words everyone in the industry should remember.

And now I own one of Invasor’s shoes, with the dirt still on it from that day at Belmont when it all began. Yes, it was my first and only piece of memorabilia, but my collection is complete. I now have a piece of Invasor to go along with the memories.

 

Images courtesy of Breeders’ Cup, Blood-Horse, Steve Haskin, Brian Zipse

Leave a Reply

50 Responses to “Invasor – A Life Changing Horse”

  1. Davids says:

    Steve, although I’ve read about your fascination and admiration for Invasor many times before, the heart wrenching departure from Uruguay to the US always gives me a sense of melancholia.

    Anyway, all the best for the New Year and Happy Holidays. At least the eventual passing of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act will be something to really cheer about in the New Year. It’s been a long time coming.

  2. Eric Rickard says:

    Awesome story. It reminds me of all the adventures i have had because of following the HORSES.

    Thank you for the perspective.

  3. Laura Lanham says:

    As usual your extensive knowledge of the sport is amazing. Just one question though. With the state of the sport right now the racing does go on. Will you be giving any thoughts on it soon?

  4. Matthew W says:

    Springboard Mile tonight #1 Senor Buscador—debut race was 12-1 ML went off 7/2….walked out of there, was far behind them all—at 5 1/2 fur…..jockey wasn’t even whipping him till late in the race, and he came running! Won by three in fast time, 15-1 ML tonight I doubt I’ll get half that.

  5. Coldfacts says:

    Many are aware that I was the biggest critic of former trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. My criticism was usually rebutted with the fact that he was US based trainer/conditioner of Invasor. In response to said rebuttals. I would highlight that exceptional horses can make average trainers appear great. Mine That Bird did same for Chip Woolley.

    Invasor was a great horse before he landed in the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin. So too was Candy Ride before he landed in the barn on Ron McAnally.

    Both horses were South American imports. Sadly Invasor’s second career didn’t match his first. Was he given enough opportunities? Probably! The stallion business is a tough one particularly for brilliant horses who are deemed not fashionably bred. If Invasor’s first crop was not packed with graded stakes winners. His fate was sealed.

    History has taught us that unassuming horse can be great racers. History has likewise taught us that brilliant race horses can be the opposite a stallions. With a horse a brilliant as Invasor, I remain satisfied with whatever he provided.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Some of the greatest racehorses were disappointing as stallions, such asTriple Crown winners, Citation, Whirlaway, and Assault, and there was also Spectacular Bid and Alysheba, and even to some degree Affirmed. You just never know.

  6. Coldfacts says:

    Many are aware that I was the biggest critic of former trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. My criticism was usually rebutted with the fact that he was US based trainer/conditioner of Invasor. In response to said rebuttals. I would highlight that exceptional horses can make average trainers appear great. Mine That Bird did same for Chip Woolley.

    Invasor was a great horse before he landed in the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin. So too was Candy Ride before he landed in the barn on Ron McAnally.

    Both horses were South American imports. Sadly Invasor’s second career didn’t match his first. Was he given enough opportunities? Probably! The stallion business is a tough one particularly for brilliant horses who are deemed not fashionably bred. If Invasor’s first crop was not packed with graded stakes winners. His fate was sealed.

    History has taught us that unassuming horse can be great racers. History has likewise taught us that brilliant race horses can be the opposite a stallions. With a horse a brilliant as Invasor, I satisfied with whatever he provided.

  7. otterbird says:

    Ah, this piece is one of my absolute favorites of yours and what a treat to read it again. And how awesome that you now own one of Invasor’s shoes! He was one of those horses who just could always figure out how to win. Watching him go by Bernardini in the BCC, especially after that amazing sweep to the front Bernardini had made… Invasor just always figured out how to win.

  8. Nelson Maan says:

    Wonderful remembrance Steve. Your experience around Invasor comes to prove that great horses are also great ambassadors to unite people and craft great memories.

    In a Tweeter poll done this past March the Uruguayan fans were asked to vote for the best horse ever to have run at Maroñas racetrack. Invasor got 88% of the votes. This result confirms the indelible mark left by the son of Candy Stripes in the hearts of the fans. Many people even ascribe the renaissance of the Uruguayan horse racing to the rise of Invasor in the international stage.

    I vividly remember going through all of Invasor’s races at Maroñas while handicapping the 2006 UAE Derby. I recall being so impressed by the ease he had won the Triple Crown to become an undefeated champion. Seeing how Invasor logged 23 4/5 and 24 and change the last quarters while winning at 2000 meters and 2500 meters, made me conclude that he was indeed the best horse in that edition of the UAE Derby.

    However, Invasor’s first race overseas was his worst ever and his only defeat… he finished fourth behind Discreet Cat proving that great horses who are mismanaged could very easily lose to very good horses in their best form. It is said that McLaughlin admitted that Invasor was not totally acclimatized for his first Nad Al Sheba race.
    That hiccup was easily forgotten as Invasor went on to become the only Argentine-bred to be named Horse of the Year in USA.

    As a South American I am glad you had a great time in Uruguay and enjoyed wonderful sites and food there. I imagine you were not able to try their succulent meat (famous “asado”) … unless you decided that tourists should sometimes forget being vegetarian …

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thanks, Nelson, I wasnt aware you were South American. As for the succulent meats, my wife and daughter indulged in that and had the best steak they ever ate. Thwir meats are amazing. If I wasnt a vegetarian I might more good things to say about it. I wasnt aware there was a Tweetr poll. Glad to hear the results.

  9. Karole Northrup says:

    I think all horse racing fans have our “own” horse – i.e. Secretariat, that we want to be close to, have a part of, and own a piece of. This story just brings it all into focus. I’ve met such wonderful people, you included!, through this wonderful experience of horse racing. Some of my dearest friends I’ve met through the Secretariat Facebook group. I know what a thrill it is to “own” a piece of “your horse”. I had never heard of Invasor, but again through your amazing columns, I can learn what I need to know. Thanks.

  10. Coldfacts says:

    I have enjoyed all your tributes to great thoroughbreds. But your tribute to Invasor has no comparison.

    I can recall when he arrived at trainer McLaughlin’s barn, he was viewed as an allowance horse at best. The unassuming arrival via Dubai, provided a reminder that one should never judge a book by its cover. Exceptional ability and heart can be found in equine athlete not viewed as physically imposing specimens.

    I have long been accused of not recognizing and celebrating the top 3YOs and older horses that emerge each year. But how can one be overwhelmed by performances that do not compare to those of the likes of Invasor.

    Invasor was produced from an unraced mare. His brilliance further reaffirmed by views that unraced and lightly raced mares are the vessels through which exceptional champions flow.

    I have often wondered why brilliant horses rarely reproduce themselves in their progenies. Secretariat being the prime example. I guess there can be only one Secretariat and likewise one Invasor.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thanks. Secretariat actually came closest with Lady’s Sectret and Risen Star. But look at Affirmed, Citation, Spectacular Bid, Whirlaway, Assault, Alysheba, Canonero. See you next month and we can go at it again on Derby Dozen 🙂

      • Matthew W says:

        Two I can recall since 1971 who were able to sire “themselves”…Candy Ride–Shared Belief….. and Alydar–Easy Goer……Shared Belief had a gear-changing ability that rivaled The Bid’s….Easy Goer WAS Alydar!

      • Betsy says:

        Seattle Slew, of course, was a legendary sire…and I would say he might have come close with the tragic Landaluce. I imagine brilliant racehorses don’t usually replicate themselves because truly brilliant horses are rare. Of course he also sired Indy, but wow he had devastatingly bad luck with Landaluce and Swale.

        Hope you are well, Steve ! It’s a real Nor’Easter tonight – I’m hunkered down and plan to read some of your archived articles tomorrow!

        Invasor…well, he was brilliant, but I can’t help associating him with Bernardini. Bernie was tremendous, and he actually ran extremely well to finish second behind such a fantastic older horse. Imagine what he could have done as a 4 year old? I’ve never really forgiven Godolphin for retiring him.

        • Davids says:

          Don’t forget Slew O’Gold, Vindication, Surfside as well. Moreover, Seattle Slew’s sire line is preeminent at present.

          • Betsy says:

            David, I could go on and on about Slew; …..he did everything a horse could do on the track and off; he truly is a legend. Poor Slew o’Gold – he actually got off to a phenomenal sire with 3 Grade/Group 1 winners in his first crop, but he got sick and could never recapture that success. If all Slew did was sire A.P. Indy, that would have been enough – Indy is some kind of influence.

        • Steve Haskin says:

          Yes, Betsy we’re getting that snowstorm. I Totally agree with you about Darley retiring Bernardini. He would have been a superstar at 4. That was a crushing blow

          • Betsy says:

            Didn’t end up too bad, Steve – at least not where I live on Long Island; how was it by you?

            I remember being angry about AP Indy being retired as a 3 year old, but I was livid about Bernardini. Now? It’s rare if they don’t retire…having “nothing to prove” anymore, sigh.

        • Matthew Wohlken says:

          AND it’s not like Bernardini became a top sire–he didn’t, was a disappointment at stud (so far), and he could’ve become a great older horse—Bernardini and Barbaro were two really good three year olds—Barbaro suffered that horrible injury, and suffered for many months trying to recover from 23 inserted pins—the other one went to stud, what a let-down!

  11. Paula N Higgins says:

    After a not so wonderful day I came here and read this wonderful story about
    Invasor, Uruguay and his Uruguayan “family.” It made it a better day right
    away. Loved this story and I especially loved the fact that this small country loved
    this quirky horse so much. A real personality boy and he knew what he was doing with
    that hay. This is what the sport is all about. I would have been rooting for him and Uruguay too.
    Glad you have a great memory with your family and a part of him in one of his shoes.

  12. Mike Sekulic says:

    INVASOR was one of the greatest horses to come out of South America! Thanks for another fantastic look back at one of racing’s greats.

  13. Matthew W says:

    Steve I saw on William Hill Futures—Hidden Stash is 100-1…..that makes it nice & easy to figure out your WINNINGS!

  14. Matthew Wohlken says:

    Steve, to us you ARE a rock-star!

  15. Cynthia Holt says:

    This is a magic carpet ride, taking me to a place I have never visited, and introducing me to a horse which I had barely known. You are so wrong when you say that you are not a collector, Steve. You are a collector of memories of the highest kind, which you share with us in the most spell-binding way. Your articles remind me constantly of the reasons why our heart strings are wrapped so tightly around the extraordinary world of the racetrack.

  16. Derek Manthey says:

    Thank you Steve for this holiday present. I have always have had a soft spot for South American horses was love at first sight. There are a lot of people who think racing is all about gambling and its not. Its about seeing something others do not. Some people call it the eye of the tiger. I never lost a bet on him in fact he paid for our wedding but that’s just sauce for the goose. I still have the Breeder’s Cup racing form with Bernidini and Lava Man battle of the Titans. I was shocked “NO RESPECT”. He never waivered and neither did I in him. Six grade one’s in a row. How many times has that happened in our lives. Kiaren did a hell of a job with him and I like to think it was always in him. When Uruguay was chanting IN-VA SOR so was I in the hills of N.J.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Lol. That is so great Derek. Paid for your wedding; now that is a special horse and special race and a special memory. I’ll bet those NJ hills are still chanting every time you look at your wedding album. I trust the wedding was a huge success.

      • Derek Manthey says:

        Prime rib and full seafood buffet and Glenlivet at a full open bar for 120. You will love this. I didn’t go to the altar until CALL TO POST was played. I thought it was fitting!

        • Steve Haskin says:

          Are you serious? That is so cool. I hope your bride and her parents thought so. That seafood buffet sounds awesome.

          • Derek Manthey says:

            Yes I am! Happy Holidays to you and all

            • Matthew W says:

              Invasor’s Classic was SOLID! Bernardini was tough! Invasor had STAMINA! I remember winning on him during his streak—and I seem to recall 4-1 and winning by three dominant lengths, which race I cannot remember.

  17. Brian says:

    Love reading your stories. Through horses we develop special relationships.
    All the best for the holiday season to you and your family.

  18. Paddy Head says:

    Oh, how I loved Invasor. I was thrilled every time he raced, and of course, won. I was hoping some of his babies would do well here in North America. Like Secretariat, I didn’t expect him to recreate himself, but I wanted to see glimpses of his greatness.

  19. Deacon says:

    What a fantastic catharsis Steve. I loved every word and somehow you are able to transport us back in time to relive these moments by your eloquent words.

    Invasor was a great champion, I believe he was as good as Canonero II. It was just a different era. I also remember back in the mid 1960’s there was an Argentinian great by the name of Forli. He just happened to be the sire of the legendary Forego. Forli ran 10 times and won 9.
    Nice pics Steve, your wife and daughter are beautiful. How did you get so lucky. 🙂

    Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year………. the Derby Dozen is just around the corner, Yahoo!!

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thanks so much, Deacon. I have no idea how I got so luccky. Still baffles me. I remember Forli well. Visited him at claiborne when he was stabled in a two-stall barn along with my boy Damascus. Happy Holidays to you, and, yes, already gettiing ready for Derby Dozen.

  20. Larry Loonin says:

    Steve,

    All that I can say at this time is how happy I am that you had Invasor in your life. But let me just add, that I loved reading your story and the humility you always have when describing your good fortune.

  21. Rita Pierce says:

    This was a wonderful memory Steve. I am not familiar with this horse too much. I have heard a little about him. Did he die early or something bad happen to him? You can let me know when and where he died. Thanks for another heart warming story though as only Steve H. can write.

  22. Tetrarch says:

    What a wonderful memory to share. One never knows . . .