Baby Chips arrived at Twin Ponds Farm in Oxford, Pa. on September 17, and within a few days had already graduated to the racetrack with other yearlings. It was a quite a transition for Baby Chips, since he had spent more than a year just hanging out and playing with another yearling gelding at a nearby farm. Having to separate from his good buddy was hard, no doubt, and Baby Chips is now at a location where there are lots of horses and plenty of interesting things to see and do. After he trains in the morning, he’s turned out for most of the day, coming in at night about 5 p.m.
I cannot express how I felt when I saw Baby Chips under tack and galloping around Twin Ponds’ training track for the first time. His progression from the sweet little foal we saw the day of his birth, to a sassy young weanling, to a yearling big and strong enough to carry the weight of a rider … it all happened so quickly and has been an experience my whole family has enjoyed. In early November, Baby Chips will head to Delaware to get Delaware Certified, and then back to Twin Ponds early next year.
It doesn’t matter whether Baby Chips turns out to be an allowance horse or a bottom claimer. I have waited my whole life to get into the breeding side of the thoroughbred industry, and so far I’m enjoying every minute of it.
* * * *We have been waiting for the big stallion announcement that was promised, but as of today not delivered. The longer the delay, the more we are thinking the wheels came off the deal. It would be a shame, since the horse would be a great addition to the Pennsylvania stallion ranks.
* * * *I live down the street from a sprawling mall in northeast Philadelphia named Franklin Mills that is a magnet for young people with a lot of time on their hands. More than 30 years ago, the ground that Franklin Mills stands on was the home of Liberty Bell Park, which was first strictly a harness oval, but later conducted thoroughbred meets. While doing some research for the recent Cotillion Stakes at Philadelphia Park, I noticed that the first seven runnings of the Cotillion were held at Liberty Bell, and what a talented group of fillies won those seven runnings – Shuvee, Office Queen, Alma North, Susan’s Girl, Lilac Hill, Honky Star and My Juliet.
I often wish that Franklin Mills, which has had its share of shoot-outs, car fires and crime sprees, was still Liberty Bell. In its heyday, the track attracted large, enthusiastic crowds, no matter what the weather. Here are a few photos of “The Bell,” courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
This is a typical night at the races, circa 1965.
Thoroughbreds became popular in the late 1960's, too.
Many horsemen have said that developers wiped out every familiar sight line of Liberty Bell, so that the piece of property today gives no clues that it once contained a racetrack and a training oval.
The road that is seen in this photo is Knights Road, which I travel everyday. To see this property today, scroll down to the last photo.
Ah, memories of a time long gone ...
The Liberty Bell property circa 2006. Can you find where the grandstand and racing oval once stood?