Cosequin Presents OTTB Showcase: Good Fortune - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Cosequin Presents OTTB Showcase: Good Fortune

“Fortune” in his second career as a show horse

Growing up in San Diego, Anne Lorkowski loved horses since she could remember, but living in such an urban environment meant she spent many more hours playing with her Breyer models than in the saddle taking lessons. That didn't put a damper on her passion, however.

As Anne grew up, she got her “horse fix” wherever she could, and in 1987 she fell in love with Jack Van Berg-trained Alysheba from afar after his historic Kentucky Derby win.

That passion for horses, and animals in general, led Anne to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, and in 1999 she graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

In a perfect world, Anne would have enjoyed a thriving career with animals at that first job and made the millions all college grads dream about. Unfortunately, seldom do things go as planned.

“My path to obtaining Fortune began when I was laid off in 2011. I had always turned to horses and racing as my comfort during crisis points, and that's how I ended up at Santa Anita on a day Jack Van Berg was running some horses,” explained Anne.

Anne gathered the courage to introduce herself to the man she had admired from afar for so many years. That introduction turned into an invitation to visit his barn, which led to regular weekly trips to the backside to spend time learning from one of the greatest trainers the sport has known.

“Film Fortune was the first horse I'd ever hot-walked for Mr. Van Berg.,” said Anne. “A big, almost black gelding with a kind eye and gregarious personality, it was love at first sight. He walked calmly beside me that day for about twenty minutes, then for no apparent reason, began bucking and plunging on his lead.”

A sharp, corrective jerk on the shank and “Ho!” brought Film Fortune's manners back, and with that, the two were bonded for the long haul.

“I swear at that moment he looked at me and said, 'You know what? You know what you're doing. You're okay.' From that point on, he was known as 'my horse,' and I was known as 'his human,'” said Anne.

Fortune had been no slouch on the racetrack. Once on the Derby trail, he lined up in the starting gate for the 2006 Rebel Stakes-G3 and Arkansas Derby-G2 against the likes of Lawyer Ron, Steppenwolfer, Private Vow and others who competed against Barbaro in that year's Derby.

Fortune was just a cut below that level of competition and headed toward smaller stakes and allowance races as the spring and summer progressed, and as the years passed he dropped down into claiming competition.

While he changed ownership several times throughout his career, the gelding remained in training with Jack for the entirety of his career.

While he'd not visited the winner's circle since 2010, he was still competitive, running at Del Mar and Santa Anita and still paying his way as a mid-level claiming horse by the end of 2012, and his connections planned to bring him back for his 10-year-old year.

“After a routine gallop in 2013, Fortune tied up very badly – so badly we thought we might lose him,” said Anne. “Jack prepared me for the worst, but a miracle happened and he pulled through without any lasting effects.”

It was after that scare that Jack came to Anne and said, “I know you love him and you'll give him a good home. He's yours if you want him.”

Fortune in the show ring
Fortune in the show ring

By then, Anne was back practicing veterinary medicine, and spending time at Jack's barn whenever she was not working. It was the perfect work-life balance for her, and gave her the luxury of funds to accept Jack's generous offer.

While Anne had ridden English in college, she was confident that she was in no position to retrain a racehorse as a riding horse. She found a farm to let him down, and after six months found someone to put a few months of riding into him away from the track, but what he needed was some serious retraining.

“A friend of my boyfriend told me about Showcase Training Stables, a hunter/jumper training facility in Redlands, California. Owner Gretchen Clark is a consummate professional in the hunter/jumper world and we hit it off right away,” said Anne. “So, on April 6, 2014, I moved Fortune to her stable.”

Gretchen coached Anne and Fortune both together and separately, and after just six weeks of professional training, Fortune went to his first show with one of Gretchen's advanced students, Jessica Abbott, in the irons, then won his first blue ribbon in Schooling Cross Rails just a few weeks later.

“A green horse – green rider combination has many challenges, but Gretchen has met them at every turn,” said Anne. “At the end of the year he had two first place ribbons and enough points, and lack of other registered horses, to be named Inland Empire Hunter/Jumper Association's 2014 Reserve Champion Modified Hunter.”

Anne spent the winter training with Gretchen on the flat, and re-learning how to not only ride, but to teach an inexperienced ex-racehorse how to be a show horse.

“It was Gretchen's version of hunt seat boot camp and, after months of hard work and many peaks and valleys, we made our show debut together at Showcase on March 29,” said Anne.

With Gretchen's student, Jessica, he placed with a second and two thirds in schooling cross rails over fences. Then, I got into the saddle and competed in my first horse show in 30 years,” said Anne.

Together, Anne and Fortune placed first in Schooling Cross Rails Hunter Under Saddle, and Fortune was named Reserve Champion in Schooling Cross Rails. He was also named the Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP) Champion in Schooling Cross Rails and the TIP High Point Low Hunter.

“I love and am so proud of my wonderful horse,” explained Anne. “Little did I know that day two years ago that I was taking home a champion show hunter and that I would be riding him! I am forever grateful to Jack Van Berg for his friendship, his wonderful gift of Fortune to me, and his advocacy for OTTBs, and I'm also so grateful to Gretchen Clark for being an incredible trainer and helping me realize my wildest dreams of being on the back of my own horse.”

THE DEETS:
Name: Film Fortune (a.k.a. “Fortune”)
Born: April 30, 2003
Color: Dark bay/brown
Sire: Indy Film
Dam: So Fortunate
Sale History: None
Race Record: 58-3-4-7; 3rd in the Cinema Breeders' Cup H.-G3
Race Earnings: $150,550

If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz ([email protected]) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.

Jen Roytz is a freelance writer and marketing and public relations consultant for various entities, both equine and non-equine. She can also still be found on the back of an OTTB most days.

Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.

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