THIS STORY WAS TO ME BY MY AUNT CATHLEEN WHO USED TO WORK AS A TROTTING/PACER HORSE TRAINER IN NEW YORK STATE:
THIS STORY HAPPENED IN THE LATE 1970'S : MY AUNT WAS 32YRS OLD: BACKGROUND ON THE STORY:
From 1974 - 1982 my Aunt Cathleen Anne Fischer (Story used with her permission) worked at a Trotter/Pacer Training and Breeding Center in Upstate New York (Name and Place Supressed due to it still being in Use). She worked for a Family who owned most of the top horses racing at the facility at the time including two All State Pacing Champion Horses.
The Stables were large and at full capacity held over 250 Horses in Work and over 300 Breeding Stock . Including 15 Elite Stud Stallions. My Aunt who was and still is a Registered Trainer and Driver also Drove Races as well as Trained their Horses. She won quite a few Races with a Black Gelding called "My Mate Ace" who was New York State Top Gelding 3 yrs running.
THERE IS THE STORY AS SHE TOLD IT TO ME: (NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF ALL THOSE LIVING AND DEAD INVOLVED IN THE STORY) : THESE ARE TRUE EVENTS:
My Aunt Cathleen had to get up early every morning to work the 12 Horses in her Charge. By 5 am she was already in the Barn feeding and grooming her charges prior to track work and any race preperation. It was early by most people's standards but for my Aunt half the Morning was almost over. And for some reason this morning she was already running behind after 1 of the horses had tried to escape his stall when she opened the door to feed him that morning.
After feeding the Horses and Disgusing the Training required that day with manager "ALLAN" . She Harnessed and Perpared her First horse for Track work. That morning up first was 4yr old Mare "All Fired Up" a small but Pretty rare Chestnut Standardbred Mare and apple of her owners eye. "FANCY" as she was Known around the stable was usually a Placid and Quiet Mare but this morning she seamed really toey and throwing her head around making it hard for my Aunt to Harness Her . Ignoring her playing up my Aunt got her ready and took her out on the track.
My Aunt said it was an Unusual morning for early Summmer , the air around the track was heavy and a light but stodgy mist hung low in the air over the Sand track. All the way to the Entry gate "FANCY" was kicking up her heels Pig-Packing (Kickig out her Hind Legs) and Tossing her head . The closer she got "FANCY" to the track the more she played up and right at the gate she stopped dead in her tracks and laid back her ears refusing to move but an inch......Making my aunt get out of the cart and literally pull her onto the track. Again very unusual for this Mare who loved her work.
Finally getting her settled enough and warmed up ....With the mist still heavy in the air she took "FANCY" up to her race pace Trotting.... Which if youve ever seen a Trotting Horse Race you will know that once those horses get going they go really fast. She had got her round the track twice without incident and was making good time and speed. When she went out on the third lap now warmed up "FANCY" was at her top speed. As she rounded the second bend she saw something that shocked her and still chills her to the bone.
OUT OF THE MIST: She saw just the front part of a dark colored Horse at full trot in Harness going along the track oppisite side of the track to her. Thinking one of the other Drivers had taken one of the other horses out she at first ignored the Horse and kept working her Horse.. Too far away to talk to the driver she watched the horse oppisite keeping pace with "FANCY" Directly oppisite to her on the other side....After another full lap she was statring to slow "FANCY" Down as a cooling down lap and thought she'd pull the Mare up at the gate and watch the other Horse come by and Wave to the Driver being friendly.
ALL THE TIME SHE SAYS : She only saw the front end of the Horse through the Mist but what looked like a body shape and a Cart and Driver in the Mist .The Horse a Very Dark Bay was moving along at a top speed , she went to wondering which horse might be out there as she usually got up before most other Driver/Trainers. AT THE GATE : She pulled "FANCY" Up and waited for the Horse and Driver to Trot on By and was ready to wave .
BUT THEN THE STRANGEST THING HAPPENED: As the Horse got closer. The Horses front legs seemed to disspear in the mist below it and the horse Pitched forward in its Harness and .........DISSAPEARED!!!!
"FANCY" REARED UP IN THE CART AND TRIED TO TAKE OFF: At the Same moment making my Aunt almost fall from the Cart....She couldnt belive her eyes. Where had the Horse gone....She was now trying to settle a Frightened Mare while starting shocked at an empty but Mist filled Track...There was no horse to be seen. She tied "FANCY" to the Rail and Walked back along the track to where the Horse Dissapered and couldnt find anything out of the ordinary.ONLY "FANCY"'s track of Hoof Prints......NO OTHERS..........The Track had been fresh graded the night before and only one set could be seen.
MY AUNT SAYS AS FOLLOWS:
AFTER TAKING A SHOCKED "FANCY" BACK TO THE STABLE: And un-harnessing her she noticed the other horse were playing up in their stalls like something or someone had suddenly frightened them....Many of them had sweat on their necks like they'd been out working on the track. AND SHE COULDNT UNDERSTAND WHY OTHER THAN FROM WHAT SHE SAW: But How did the other Horses know.
IT TOOK HER OVER AN HOUR : To Calm "FANCY" Down from her morning fright. And instead of working the other hosres straight away like usual she set about finding the Head Horse Owner and The Man who had Founded the Center.....Maybe he knew why she had seen what she did .
THE STORY ONE OF PAIN AND SADNESS IS TO FOLLOW: WHY THE STABLE IS HAUNTED : AND WHY THE TRACK HAS A GHOST THE DISSAPEARS IN THE MIST:
Story will Continue.....I have to write it another day....As Im needed.
THE HISTORY CONITUES: I APPOLOGISE FOR THE LATENESS:
THE HISTORY OF THE GHOST TROTTING HORSE:
To look at the History of the Disspearing Trotting Horse we have to turn the Clock back a few more year past the 1970's when my Aunt met the Ghost during morning Track Work.
The year was 1954. The Training Center and Racing Yard and Breeding Center had been open for 10yrs at the time.....The owner was a Rich Retired Army Major whom when he retired from the Service. Decided on a career of his two other Loves Horses and Trotting/Pacing Races. The owner in his 60's " TERRY" (Name Changed) was a Bright buisnessman. But also a BIG Animal Lover and Welfare Activist.Well ahead of his time.
All his Horses were treated like Kings and Queens. Best food, Best Stables, Big Grass Filled Yards. If even one of the horses sneezed the vet was out to look at it. None of the horses at the Center ever had want for anything. So good was his facility;s that Owners from all over the USA and Canada sent their horses there for training. Knowing that if anyone could make that most out of a Horse and get it to win races "TERRY" and his wife "LUCY" and his brother (Also Retired Army) "BEN" could get the horses to do well. Even horses other trainers had given up on had wound up there at the Center and more often than not had become great Racers.
OUR STORY CENTERS ON ONE VERY SPECIAL COLT:
At the two Year Old Spring Sales , 1952 Terry and Lucy had bought a 2yr old Black Colt By UK Champion Trotting Stallion "SEACHANGE" out of a "SPRINGTON HANOVER" Mare called "QUICKLY PLEASE" (A Winner in her own Right). The Colt was named "QUICKSAND", he was as black as night and had no markings but the smallest white star on his forehead. He was smaller than most Colt's his age and at full height he barely mananged to reach 15.3 HH. But he had the Heart of a Lion. He was Fast, Smart and unusual for a un-Gelded Horse a really good temprement. And he was strikingly good looking for a Standardbred ... Long Neck, Slightly Dished Head , Nice long back and clean legs. He quickly became the Stable Favourite. And earned the nickname "MOUSE" Because he was so quiet to do anything with.
After Breaking him in that Autumn he was raced in Early Winter to Spring and won the 2-3yr old Crown Trotters Cup for 2-3 yr olds in First Racing Season.. (Trotting Equvilant of the Triple Crown). That racing stint he won 9 of 11 Races. Taking the Colt of the Year Cup along with it.
Trotting History Shows "QUICKSAND" was hard to beat over the next year and a half. As a 3yr old he was raced 15 times for 12 wins and 2 Seconds and a 4th (He only came forth because he pulled a muscle in his hock). After being spelled for 3 mths to recouver .... He came back to racing as a 4yr old Stallion...Still quiet and Fast and Getting more Handsome by the Day. Due to his nature it was decided along with the fact he was a great racer that he was not to be Gelded . Because people were already asking when he was going to be standing at Stud.Terry though for sure he was on a good thing... And that in time he would also hope that his champion would also father some great Babies. HE told people he would retire him after he turned 5yrs old because he wanted "QUICKSAND" to enter one of Trotting's Greatest Races for Horses that were proven winners....Trotting's version of the KENTUCKY DERBY....The PALACE HERALD MILE. But he had to be at least 5yrs old to race in it. People agree'd that "QUICKSAND" would be perfect for the race.....Saying he'd be tough competition if he was still racing as good as he currently had been.
After the 3mth Break...."QUICKSAND" was brought back into work. And like before he took to it like a Duck to water. And the Fact he had filled out more and was quite Muscular and Stronger than he had ever been.He was being prepared for a comback at the New York 4yr old Header Race "TIMES FLIGHT STKS" The same race his mother had won.If he won this he would qualify for the 4yr old's SMITHSON CUP Races ( A set of 10 Races over 6mths)....(Horse Version of the Winston Cup in NASCAR). If he did well there or even won it... He'd be worth a million at stud.
"TERRY" Didnt push the young Stallion, he never over worked his horses but kept them fit for racing with out trying to injure them. Not that "QUICKSAND" Needed pushing. "TERRY" Once said "If that horse could Harness and put the cart on himself....He'd do his own track work in the morning".
SADLY THOUGH THE TIMES FLIGHT STAKES WOULD NEVER GET TO SEE THE LIKES OF "QUICKSAND":
One morning like usual, Terry who had a bad chest infection. Reluctantly at his wife's persuasion had one of his Trainers work "QUICKSAND" instead of him like he usually did. He went to the Barn and gave the Trainer/Driverthe instructions required for the session and rugged up went to wait at the timing stand to see his beloved "MOUSE" run his morning workout.
All was good for 5 laps on the track. And "QUICKSAND/MOUSE" was making very good lap times. Obviously his injury had healed up very well . The vets had cleared him and he was working like nothing had ever happened.
As he came around the bend to the Straight on the Sixth lap....Something that shocked everyone... A sight that burned forever in the brain of those who loved the little Stallion....Going flat out coming out of a Heavy mist that had dropped over the track..."QUICKSAND"'s Front legs SNAPPED just below the the KNEES....The Horse was pitched forward in his harness and went down throwing the driver from the Cart into the midddle of the track........"QUCKSAND" Tried in vain to get up to his feet.. His urge to finish his workout hadnt ended with his fall. The sad and terrible sight was witnessed by the man who loved him the most....And it took "TERRY" to settle him and make him laydown to the vet could come.
SADLY THE INJURIES WERE TO BAD : AND "QUICKSAND" DISPITE THE VETS BEST EFFORTS : And Two Operations to try to save him.... Even if it was just for Stud..."QUICKSAND" Has a reaction to the Medication given to him to kill the pain....And was Put to Sleep two days after that fatefull Morning.
EVER SICE THEN: ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR USUALLY AROUND THE ANNIVERSARY OF HIS ACCIDENT: "QUICKSAND" Can be seen trying to Finish his Morning workout....HE IS SAID TO ONLY APPEAR : When the Track has heavy Fog and a mist like soup hangs over the track. Just as it did that morning he took his last lap. HE IS SEEN ONLY : The front half of his body through a Heavy Mist his body past his shoulder and the Driver and Cart are hidden.....ALWAYS : His legs dissapear in the Mist.... Always he Pitches forward in his harness.....AND THEN DISSAPEARS.....
AS FOR OWNER "TERRY" :
He kept owning Horses and Bred and Raced many Champions until his death in 1979 at age 83. BUT HE NEVER AGAIN: Got into a Cart and Drove one of His Prized horses again he couldnt bring himself to being on the track after he lost the best Horse he ever had...... "TERRY" To Haunts the Stables its said....He is often seen in the Harness Tack Room Cleaning the Harnesses with a Container of old Saddle Soap. OTHER PEOPLE HAVE ALSO SEEN HIM: Walking between the Stallion Barn Stable Number One where "QUICKSAND" Lived in Life and the BUNKHOUSE where the Trainers Stayed . AND ALSO : In the Main House's Old Office sitting behind the old Oak Desk that in Life was his work desk. Seen Shuffling Papers and talking into a phone that isnt there.