Healing Power: Derby Winner Orb Rejuvenated at Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center Print E-mail

August 2013                                                                                                                                                                                   

Buying a racehorse has always been a risky business. Along with wine, art and gold, thoroughbreds have long been the luxury investment of choice for the well-heeled. Keeping them healthy and happy is a quite another thing.  

Enter Bruce Jackson.Orb RB 1

Nearly seven years ago Jackson, a former trainer-- along with his wife Amy, a former jockey-- opened the doors to his Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center located on the grounds of the Fair Hill Training Center that straddles the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. It is set within the 6,000-acre natural resource management area that offers a dramatic shift from the bustle of a racetrack.

Behind the Equine Therapy Center is a vivid flower garden of rose bushes and impatiens which is circled by a large outdoor walking ring. Inside, the barn is bright with plenty of airflow, 50 stalls and an expansive shedrow.  There are round pens for lazing about, turnout paddocks to zip across, rolling hills and wooded walking trails to amble along. Still, the facility’s calling cards are the state-of-the-art therapeutic options: a hyperbaric chamber, water treadmill, cold saltwater spa and a whole body vibration plate therapy that was adapted from human sports medicine conditioning and rehabilitation.

A Great Ride Print E-mail

The Hunt Magazine
Spring 2014

The last of the moon still hangs in the sky as the sun peeks over the far edge of the Fair Hill training track. Over at the clocker's stand, trainers, owners, and onlookers gather to drink plenty of coffee, swap tall tales, and watch their horses train.Patterson 1

2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb steps onto the dirt track. The handsome bay colt gazes off into the distance. With a signal from exercise rider and Wilmington native Jen Patterson, Orb starts into a jog, a gallop and then a swift breeze.

Dressed in all black with cardinal red trim, Patterson is balanced confidently in the irons, motionless except for her arms which move in rhythm with Orb’s stride. Her hands are quiet on the reins. Beneath her, the colt glides over the surface, contracting and then bursting forward with each stride. He thunders past us just off the rail. The thud of his hooves is punctuated by blasts of heavy breathing. For the entire half-mile workout and beyond, Orb points his ears skyward, alert to a morning birdsong.

You will find exercise riders out on the track before sun-up. They work outdoors in sun, rain or snow, on sweltering or bone-chilling days. Often anonymous, they are excellent riders with a figurative clock in their heads. Their job is to work the horse into prime fitness. They're critical to a trainer's success.

Healing Power Print E-mail


It was a regular regimen. Following their morning workouts, young Bruce Jackson would lead a mix of sport horses and racehorses down a shady lane past cows in fields onto the expansive West Wittering Beach and to the water's edge in West Sussex, England. The daily excursions into the sea helped reduce inflammation of the horses' joints and tendons, thanks to the therapeutic benefits of natural seawater, rich in the mineral of sodium chloride. The frigid sea also assisted good circulation through the legs and sped up good quality hoof growth.

Flash forward four decades. Today, Jackson is providing those magical healing capabilities of natural seawater at his Equine Therapy Center on the grounds of the Fair Hill Training Center that sits on the border of northern Maryland and southern Chester County, Pa. The facility installed a cold saltwater spa last June and is using it daily for treating a variety of equine injuries, including tendon sprains, ligament issues, bruised shins, foot growth in the early stages of laminitis, and for healing nasty cuts and abrasions.

Derby's 1st Winner Boasted Philly Connections Print E-mail

Philadelphia Inquirer
May 3, 2013
PAINQ 2McGrathH. P. McGrath was a barroom brawler who worked his way up from crooked dice games in his native Kentucky to owning posh gambling parlors in New Orleans and New York City. Cashing in his enormous profits, McGrath returned to Lexington, Ky. as a member of the landed gentry in 1867. He built his lordly estate McGrathiana on the crest of a hill a few miles outside town. Breeding, racing, and wagering on top-flight thoroughbreds would dominate the rest of his life.

Henry Price McGrath also gained immortality. His pint-size blood red colt Aristides will forever be remembered in racing history as the first Kentucky Derby winner.

The burly Irishman named the colt to honor his good friend Philadelphian Aristides J. Welch who established Erdenheim Stud shortly after the close of the Civil War. A few furlongs from the village of Chestnut Hill, its barns, boxes and paddocks were the home of many of the greatest thoroughbreds on both sides of the Atlantic in the late nineteenth century.PAINQ 1Welch

A purser in the Navy and a prominent contractor, Welch earned early notoriety as a signer of the bond to release Jefferson Davis after the Civil War. Few American horsemen could match Welch’s commercial breeding success.  An English stakes winner, Leamington (Aristide’s sire) was the driving force behind Welch’s prominence after his purchase in 1872.  The nearly black stallion already had produced some of the sport’s grandest stars-- Longfellow, Littleton and Lynchburg-- while at stud in Kentucky. Still, it was Welch’s astute broodmare selections that would propel Leamington to leading sire in North America titles in 1875, 1877, 1878 and 1881.

Hollywood Futurity 1991: A. P. Indy Coming Out Party Print E-mail

The Jockey Club & NTRA Racing Website
December 8, 2012

He proved to be one of a very small number of top-priced yearlings to earn more on the racetrack than his purchase price.  A big, muscular, and mature colt, A. P. Indy was easy to spot on the track with an unorthodox running style in which he kept his head low, almost like a greyhound, with that distinctive long, rhythmic stride.APIndy6

A son of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew and dam Weekend Surprise by 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, he was the star attraction at the Keeneland July auction in 1990. Back then A. P. Indy was known as Summer Squall’s younger half-brother by Seattle Slew, who had just won the Preakness after running second to Unbridled in the Kentucky Derby.

That was a huge boost to A.P. Indy’s Keeneland catalog page. Noel O’Callaghan of British Bloodstock Agency Ireland, bidding on behalf of Japanese businessman Tomonori Tsurumaki, outbid trainer D. Wayne Lukas’s client  at $2.9 million, the most expensive price of the year in a depressed market.

“We figured we’d have to be brave and bid fast,” said O’Callaghan.

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