Almost 10 years ago, Hubert Vester went against veterinarians’ suggestions and chose not to put down his horse, Russian Bride.
Vester, a Nashville native, nursed the horse back to health, and as an ultimate result, he’ll be at today’s Kentucky Derby rooting for her offspring.
We Miss Artie, a turf specialist and a 50-1 longshot, is the colt of Vester’s horse, Athena’s Gift.
Athena’s Gift is the immediate offspring of Russian Bride, after she was bred with 2000 Kentucky Derby winner, Fusaichi Pegasus.
While he isn’t the owner of We Miss Artie, a Canadian-bred horse who is the favorite to win the first leg of Canada’s Triple Crown, Vester sure feels attached to the horse.
“It’s a once in a lifetime connection, especially for a guy like me,” said Vester, who will be attending his first Kentucky Derby today. “It really is.”
Vester only breeds a handful of mares every year. Compared to other breeders who breed hundreds of mares every year, Vester said the odds are remarkable that he has any relation to a horse in the Kentucky Derby, which will be run at approximately 6:30 p.m.
“It’s crazy,” Vester said. “It’s crazy odds. It really is.”
Vester compared it to having a son drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft and him making the majors.
Only three-year-olds are eligible for the Derby, and when We Miss Artie was born in 2011, there were 37,000 other horses born that year, Vester said. The top 20 make it into the Kentucky Derby field.
“When you bring his mom into the world, you know (that it’s special),” Vester said.
The colt itself is a turf specialist, like his mother, father and Russian Bride. The Kentucky Derby and the rest of the Triple Crown is run on dirt, unlike the Queen’s Plate, which is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. The Queen’s Plate is run in June, and Vester said he hopes the horse doesn’t suffer an injury on the unfamiliar track.
“It’ll be exciting,” Vester said. “I just hope the horse doesn’t get hurt at this point.”
Vester hasn’t stop breeding mares, and he considers himself a small-scale breeder. In fact, We Miss Artie just had a younger sister born earlier this year, and Vester will be bringing back a pair of pregnant mares from Kentucky.
“I’m going to make a working trip out of it,” Vester said.
If he had it his way, Vester would be bringing back a new memory of a long-shot Kentucky Derby winner, too.