Holly M. Smith & The Player Are Both “At Home”

(The Player and his accomplishments in writing)

By Holly M. Smith

Bourbon, Beer, and Horses, A Perfect Fall Day in Frankfort

All photos by Holly Smith or Brianna Vitt

The fall weather has finally arrived in Kentucky, which usually means weekend trips to Keeneland, but I decided to be a hometown tourist and do something different and spend the day in Frankfort.  Born and raised in Franklin County (east side #FlyerPride), but now adays, it’s usually just a pit stop on my way to Keeneland or Lexington. My fellow photographer and horse loving friend, Brianna Vit, senior in the UL Equine Program, set out for adventure in my hometown of Frankfort.

First stop was the Buffalo Trace Distillery, where we did the “Trace Tour.”  The distillery was very busy. I guess lots of other people had the same idea for a fall day in October!   The tour was fantastic, free, and offered tastings at the end. They also have a great gift shop and a little cafe for lunch, where Brianna and I took advantage of both!

This was actually the first time I had ever been on the grounds, even though I would drive by all the time when I was younger and distinctly remember smelling the mash around town.   

Next up was West Sixth Farm, which is located in the Peaks Mill area of Franklin County. This is a second location for the brewery, which is based in Lexington.  The farm features a small, indoor bar area, outdoor seating pavillion, pond and event space.  They, too, offer free tours of the farm, and have a 4-mile bike/hike/run trail (sounded way too intense for me). But there is beer at the end!  Brianna and I enjoyed a beer, good conversation with the bartenders, and visiting with other customers and their dogs (yes, it’s dog friendly).  

On our way to the last stop before heading back to Louisville, we drove past my Nana’s house. I always like to take a drive in the neighborhood when I can. So many good memories. Plus, it was nice to show a friend where I spent quite a bit of time growing up.

(Indian Ridge Farm, home of the Buff Bradley Family and The Player)

The final, and most important stop, though, was a visit with The Player at Indian Ridge Farm.  The Player,  aka “Angus,” has returned to his co-owner and trainer, Buff Bradley, and his farm after what most people and veterinarians would consider a life-ending injury.

“Angus” last raced March 24, 2018 at the Fair Grounds in the G2 New Orleans Handicap. During the race,  The Player’s jockey, Calvin Borel, pulled the colt up after a bad step around the 5/16th pole.  I remember watching that race on TV, and being sick to my stomach, checking social media over and over for any updates.

Devastatingly, “Angus” had broken two sesamoid bones in his front right foot. The connections, however, opted to send him to LSU for surgery.  As luck would have it, although the surgery was extensive and long, “Angus” pulled through the procedure. It was then that his long road to recovery first began.

Throughout the time “Angus” spent at LSU, which went from hours to days and then to long, agonizing months, Bradley would post updates, photos and videos on The Player’s official Facebook page.  He had quite the following before, thanks to his silly personality, but he gained even more fans over the months.

On September 21st, The Player returned to Frankfort and began to settle into his old home and new life away from the racetrack.  While he will never race again, it is really something special to see him in good spirits, walking around, and being able to enjoy time outside.

The Player’s story now joins the likes of the great Lady Eli and Lord Nelson, who, too, have overcome extraordinary circumstances — in thanks to their heart, and the connections that gave them a second chance when many would not.

(Wilbur & Friends)

Yesterday, Bradley opened his doors at Indian Ridge farm for fans, friends and family to come and visit with The Player. And, of course, the other farm residents — like the extraordinary Brass Hat (over $2 million in earning during his career), Wilbur the Pig, donkeys, goats and more — were also on hand for the festive occasion.

There was a wonderful spread of food and drinks for everyone, and, naturally, there were photo ops with the “Man of the Day” — The Player.

Many thanks to Buff and his staff for opening their doors to the fans, and being so open and forthcoming with information about The Player.  

If you are looking to add a few stops on your next trip to the area, I highly recommend checking out what Frankfort has to offer.  Just a short drive from Louisville or Lexington!

It is wonderful.

(The Player, when he was at the races and racetrack)

 

(Stablemate Brass Hat, with Holly and Brianna)

 

 

Those two horses (Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair) never came back to me at all. I had the same trip as I did last time. He relaxed behind horses and I looked for that kick but he never gave it to me today. He felt good and healthy but unfortunately today wasn’t the day.”

Javier Castellano, Jockey of Instilled Regard (fourth)

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