Rolex competitor no longer a Mystery

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Boyd Martin laughed at the thought. It was moments after winning the Asheville Regional Airport $75,000 Wellington Eventing Showcase on Blackfoot Mystery in February.

“I feel sorry for the jockeys who have ever ridden him,” Martin said.

There were three.

Jorge Chavez tried June 8, 2007, but it didn’t go well. Chavez won the Kentucky Derby on Monarchos, he couldn’t get Blackfoot Mystery to beat a horse in the maiden claimer at Hollywood Park. The comments read like the last egg in the toss, “broke in the air and slowly.”

Three weeks later, David Cohen tried. Hell, he won the Travers, he can make anything run. It didn’t go well as they plummeted from fourth to 11th to 13th in a 7-furlong maiden claimer, they beat a horse, one who bore out and failed to finish.

Two weeks later, Alonso Quinonez gave it his all. He won 158 races that year, not this one, it felt like running up the down escalator. They finished sixth.

In three starts, with three different jockeys, Blackfoot Mystery beat four horses and earned $1,200 (Hollywood Park rewarded each starter with $400).

Nine years after those attempts, Blackfoot Mystery has a new jockey. Martin tried to fathom the chestnut gelding as a racehorse.

“He’s the quietest Thoroughbred I’ve ever met,” Martin said. “To get him fired up for a competition is hard, it would be very hard to get him into a race, unless it was a very long race.”

They don’t write races that far.

But eventing writes its competition over three days.

Leigh Gray, founder and president of the Thoroughbred Rehab Center in Los Angeles County, plucked him off the track and he landed with event rider and trainer Lisa Peecook.

In 2013, Californian Kelly Prather traveled east with Blackfoot Mystery after buying the Kentucky-bred from Peecook. Prather competed Blackfoot Mystery through the CCI3* before selling him to Martin and the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate in 2015.

“Whenever you’re looking for a big-time horse, everyone jumps on a plane and goes to Germany and England and Ireland. In America, we have a lot of hidden talent that no one’s really looking at here,” Martin said. “Kelly Prather always loved him, he looks like an old fashioned Thoroughbred, big, rangy horse, 17 hands, strong bone on him, he looks like a National Hunt horse. He’s all class.”

Bred in Kentucky by John O’Meara, Blackfoot Mystery is by graded stakes winner Out Of Place, who won eight races for Cynthia Phipps and Shug McGaughey and out of the stakes-winning Maryland-bred True Mystery, a daughter of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Proud Truth.

“Because he’s an American Thoroughbred, we’ve got a number of people from Kentucky who breed horses and own racehorses around the world,” Martin said. “It’s exciting because they’re getting a small glimpse of what it’s like for a Thoroughbred to have a second career in eventing. I was very pleased that a lot of them came to Palm Beach to watch him.”

Back in February, when he won at Wellington, Martin was thinking about the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event that starts Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

“He’s been competing at the top level, he came here because I thought he would have a good chance of winning. He put in a lovely dressage test, good cross country, he’s been a bit tough in the show jumping, but he jumped beautifully, he got up and won the event,” Martin said. “I’ll give him a nice slow run in his next event, and then bat him up for Rolex, I think he’s got a good chance there.”

Chavez, Cohen and Quinonez would certainly agree.

– Joanie Morris and Anne Clancy contributed to this article.