Champion Fleet Indian Passes on October 1 Leaving a Remarkable Legacy

Friday, October 7th, 2011
by Sarah Mace

Summer Wind Farm’s Fleet Indian – millionaire, multiple Grade 1 winner for Paul H. Saylor, Eclipse Champion, seventh on the all-time New York-bred earners list and dam of a $2,050,000 Storm Cat colt – died at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, KY last weekend from complications following colic surgery.

Bred by Becky Thomas and Lewis Lakin, Fleet Indian was born on March 8, 2001 at Lakland North in Hudson (later Sequel Stallions). The dark bay or brown filly by Indian Charlie, out of the Afleet mare Hustleeta, was destined to grow to 17 hands. Known affectionately as “Large Marge” throughout her life, by all accounts Fleet Indian had a lovely nature.

Fleet Indian passed twice through the sales ring as a youngster. Leprechaun Racing (agent) purchased her from Lakland at the 2002 Fasig-Tipton Preferred New York Yearling sale at Saratoga for $40,000. The following Spring she brought $230,000 at the OBS Open Two-Year-Old sale, when she sold to Fleetwood Bloodstock.

Unraced at two, Fleet Indian had her first start for owner Stan E. Fulton, owner of Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino in New Mexico, in April of 2004. To get things rolling, she reeled off four straight victories – the first three by open lengths. Having stretched out to a mile in her second start, she ultimately did her best work at distances of 1 1/8 and 1 1/4 miles, even though she later logged a win in a Belmont allowance race at seven furlongs.

Fleet Indian raced for two years in the barn of James Toner, capping the first part of her career with a five-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Montauk Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares at Aqueduct. She made her last start of 2005 for trainer Clifford Sise, Jr. – also a winning effort – in a third-level open allowance race at Philadelphia Park.

In 2006 Fleet Indian got a new set of connections. Purchased from Greenfield Farm (agent) at the Keeneland January Sale by Paul H. Saylor for $290,000 (Dapple Bloodstock, agent), Fleet Indian moved to the barn of Todd Pletcher. Jose Santos became her new regular rider. In March of that year, she began a remarkable run, extending her back-to-back victories at the close of 2005 to an eight-race winning streak, upping the ante with virtually every start.

After winning the Grade 3 Next Move Handicap on the Aqueduct inner oval in March, Fleet Indian turned the Grade 3 Sixty Sails at Hawthorne into a walk in the park, winning by twelve-plus lengths. Open-length victories followed in the Obeah, and Grade 2 Delaware Handicaps. Her last two wins came in Grade 1 stakes races on the NYRA circuit: the Personal Ensign at Saratoga and Beldame at Belmont.

Fleet Indian’s only 2006 loss came in came in the Grade 1 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs. Co-favored at post time, she pulled up in distress in the far turn and was vanned off. An injury to her left front leg involved the suspensory ligament and cannon bone, and required surgery to fuse her ankle

As she recuperated from surgery, Fleet Indian was voted the 2006 Eclipse Award for Champion Older Female and was the overwhelming choice for 2006 New York Horse of the Year and Champion Older Female. She won of 13 of her 19 starts, finished third once and earned $1,704,513.

Having missed both the 2006 Keeneland November sale and the 2007 Keeneland January auction, Fleet Indian went through the 2007 Keeneland November sale in foal to Storm Cat, but failed to meet her reserve when bid up to $3,900,000. Afterwards she sold privately Jane and Frank Lyon, Jr.’s Summer Wind Farm near Georgetown, KY. Her 2008 Storm Cat colt, Storm’n Indian, sold to John Ferguson for $2.05 million at the 2009 Keeneland September sale, becoming 2009’s highest-priced yearling. Trained for Darley by Kiaran McLaughlin, he has placed after two starts.

Fleet Indian’s next three foals were fillies. The first, sired by A. P. Indy and named Indyan Giving, was kept by Summer Wind and is currently in training. A yearling by Distorted Humor named Fleeting Smile sold to Shadwell for $500,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September sale. This year’s foal, born in April, is by Medaglia d’Oro and has been named Castlegrace. Fleet Indian was not in foal when she died.

Fleet Indian’s legacy extends beyond the racetrack into the classroom. In 2007 a four-year college scholarship for children of workers in the thoroughbred industry was established in her name through The Race for Education. After being awarded annually for four years after the Fleet Indian Stakes, in 2011 both scholarship and the race were renamed the Olivia M. Saylor/Fleet Indian to honor Paul Saylor’s daughter. Olivia Saylor was deeply involved in the thoroughbred industry and died tragically in a house fire on January 1, 2011 at the age of 21. Paul Saylor is a board member of the Race for Education.

Barbara D. Livingston has assembled a wonderful photographic tribute to Fleet Indian – qua racehorse, backstretch buddy and mother – on the Daily Racing Form website: PHOTOS: Barbara D. Livingston’s tribute to Fleet Indian. Fleet Indian will be interred at Summer Wind.

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