This weekend Santa Anita will feature the Gr.2 San Carlos Handicap, a race that our retiree Oceanus finished a close third to Surf Cat in 2006. The beautiful stallion Oceanus raced a total to forty-six times with five wins including the Gr.2 Gran Premio Conde de Hertzberg in his native Brazil. In the US he was a tough and durable competitor until the age of nine.
When Oceanus retired to Tranquility Farm in the spring of 2008, you might say that he was a formidable horse. If you have ever seen a lively production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew you have an idea what it was like to care for Oceanus in the first few weeks of his rehabilitation. Things often went flying out of the stall, including the grooms. But there were reasons, I told myself… it was March, it was snowing, and this glorious athlete was stuck inside with an injured leg. It would be enough to make anyone cranky. And then there was that issue of his Latin temper…
One day after a particularly harrowing session came the realization that Oceanus simply expected a fight, it wasn’t personal, and if he could not identify any combatant there would be no object for his aggression. We became his shadow enemy, not allowing any confrontation whatsoever to take place. A big bag of carrots was placed outside his stall (the cowboys snicker) and each time a human walked by he got some. Cleaning his stall and wrapping his leg was done without restraints, just carrots. I reasoned that a horse would probably not try to eat you with his mouth full, and little by little Oceanus came to view his new set of humans with a more positive attitude.
Two years at Tranquility Farm have worked their magic, and Oceanus is now a happy horse and a perfect gentleman who has learned to treat humans kindly. Like other difficult horses I have cared for in the past he has become my great favorite, probably because he has so much to teach us.