Equine Eye Candy

Sometimes horses, like people, are just too good lookin’ for their own good. Or anybody else’s for that matter. Remember the junior high ne’er-do-well who had all the girls ga-ga?

Well, no one is about to put Supreme Ghost in the same company as a teen-age loser; he’s anything but. Yet he does attract attention wherever he goes and plenty of it. He’s an eye-catcher and has been since trainer Troy Bethke began breaking him as a yearling. He is eye-candy for horse lovers of any stripe, and they demonstrate it constantly with inquiries about his availability.

People asked Bethke the first time they saw this dappled gray movie star on the backside if he might be for sale.

“When I had the horse, I had lots and lots of offers,” he said. “He’s just a beautiful animal, gorgeous.”

When Bethke first put the Ghost under saddle there were those who hoped he might not make it as a racehorse so they could put him in their own barn for dressage or as a trail horse or a jumper.

Although she will never wish ill luck of any kind on this beauty, there is a part of Tember Graves that is very pleased Supreme Ghost is now in her barn instead of a racetrack stall, where she first got to know him as one of the horses she groomed for Bethke last summer.

The Ghost is now at the farm where Tember lives in Prior Lake and nothing much has changed in one regard.

“Some of the neighbors saw him and wanted to know if he might be for sale,” she said.

Imagine that, the horse hasn’t been gone from Canterbury Park a month and already horse lovers are lining up the instant they lay eyes on this handsome son of Supremo.

Graves is the daughter of Sandra Sweere – who worked for Bethke several meets before taking out her own training license – and although she cared equally for all of the horses she groomed, she did develop an affection for the Ghost.

“I fell in love with him,” Tember said. “And I probably did give him a few extra scratches when I cared for him.”

Now imagine the reaction when her mother presented Supreme Ghost to her as a 28th birthday present last September. “I got him the last week of the meet,” Graves said. “Yes, I was very surprised.”

There were a few conditions. Supreme Ghost would run during the current meet, his five-year-old season, and Sandra and Tember would share expenses.

Those plans changed because of the ill luck that seems to follow the Ghost like a curse and his connections’ unwillingness to push him through injuries that have mounted over time.

Here is a brief chronology of the Ghost’s ill-fated and abbreviated career:

Bred by Dennis Strohkirch and raced in partnership with Carin Offerman, Supreme Ghost arrived at Canterbury Park as a two-year-old. “He messed up his hock in the stall and we thought he was done racing,” Bethke recalled. “But he came out of it.”

The Ghost returned as a three-year-old but bowed a tendon. Once again he recovered with a protracted rest. Finally on Sept. 3 last autumn (winner’s circle picture above), in the seventh start of his career, Supreme Ghost broke his maiden. He was at last a winner, in what would be the last start of his career.

There were other bits of evidence that if this horse didn’t have bad luck he’d have no luck at all. He put his foot through a fence one time. Another time he got hung up on the walker somehow. Nothing major, but like we said, more evidence that maybe racing was not in this fellow’s life plan.

The Ghost was back at Canterbury Park this spring but mother and daughter decided that maybe enough was enough, that they weren’t going to push him. He had one win on the record last autumn. Even if he got another, at what expense would it come?

Tember decided to take him home, and Supreme Ghost left the racetrack just about a month ago. Tember worked and galloped him in the past, but now she is able to spend a lot of time with the Ghost one-on-one, enough time that jumping on him bareback is not an issue for her or for him any longer.

Tember is confident that Supreme Ghost will make a good jumper in time and has started working with him, getting him to step over poles, to move his feet differently than he did as a racehorse and prepare for the next step in this new career.

She is also of the belief that mom had an ulterior motive in the purchase of this wonderful birthday gift. Tember thinks that maybe, just maybe, mom recognized her daughter’s love for the Ghost and bought the horse as a way of getting her to stay put.

Tember got her undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her masters in counseling at Arizona State University. She was prepared to look in Arizona for work but decided to stay in Minnesota instead, because of, guess who!

She is now working in family therapy, living in Prior Lake and delighted beyond words to be spending her free hours with the Ghost.

By the way, if you doubt that this horse is truly a looker, click here to view a copy of the Carlson School of Management magazine from fall, 2011. That is Supreme Ghost, right there on the cover. Who knows, maybe the next super model.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

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