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  • Catherine Riccio

Beauty Is in the eye of the beholder!

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

The one that nobody wanted. Fact! Mark of Success, came into the barn of Dallas Stewart one day and his appearance was described as, “This is the ugliest horse I ever saw”, by the assistant trainer Joanne McNamara. McNamara had been spoiled as she worked for the high profile D. Wayne Lukas Stable for over 20 years. Joanne was use to see eye catching horses like Thunder Gulch, Serena’s Song and many others. So when 14 hand high Mark Of Success made his way off the ramp at Churchill Downs barn 35, she was not impressed.

But along with McNamara and the whole stable would learn later, Mark Of Success had talent and knew where to use it….On the racetrack! As the son of Mt. Livermore began to train, trainer Stewart was shaking his head when the bay gelding would work at Churchill Downs. Most of the time his breezes were in company and usually the little guy was in front at the wire. Mark of Success worked several times prior to his first race. His published works showed :47 2/5 for a 1/2 of mile; :59 flat for 5/8ths. Pretty speedy for a gelding that was entered in his first start for a $35,000 claiming price. Most young horses that showed that kind of talent wouldn’t be entered in a claiming race in their first start. Most trainers would see how their horse ran in a maiden special weight race first and then decide if a lower class needs to be an option. Mark of Success’ first race was to be in early November.

Stewart was confident that one look at Mark of Success, would change the mind of the person filling out the claim slip. He was right. There were 9 people who all worked for different stables standing by the paddock with halters and shanks before the horses entered in the paddock for the final race. After visualizing the 2-year-old gelding, the trainers and assistant trainers watching decided to sit back and watch this race. They sat back and watched Mark Of Success carry David Flores and the colors of the late, William Carl to a 6 length maiden win. As they glanced at the winners circle, no one could help but notice the 36.00 win pay off for a 2.00 dollar bet!

From now, it was to decide where would Mark of Success run next?

Mark of Success ended up running in the Risen Star Stakes G3, finishing second to multiple stakes winner, Lawyer Ron. That race was probably his best of his career. He did win a couple of allowance races and then found himself in the claiming ranks. I kept in touch with his trainer in Texas, named Richard Bird. He was kind enough to call me when it was time to retire him. We had him shipped up from Texas to Kentucky and the folks at Old Friends helped me find him a forever home with a family in Versailles, KY.

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