Point Given: The Big Red Train & The History He Made
“The Big Red Train” and “T-Rex” were both nicknames given to an incredible racehorse known more commonly as Point Given.
In 2001, Point Given took the racing world by storm by winning over, and over, and over again. Join me as I relive his days of glory.
Pedigree & Early Life (1998-1999): In 1994, Saudi Arabian Prince Ahmad bin Salman established The Thoroughbred Corporation with his close friend Richard Mulhall. Together they created a world-renowned breeder and owner operation, eventually becoming one of just four owners to own both a Kentucky Derby winner and an Epsom Derby winner. Two years after establishing The Thoroughbred Corp., the two men purchased a stakes winning mare named Turko’s Turn in foal to Dehere for $130,000 at the Keeneland November Sale. The mare was sired by multiple Gr.1 winner Turkoman.
The Thoroughbred Corporation had an 18-acre estate in California, but often had their horses born and raised at other farms, one of those being Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. It is there that Turko’s Turn resided. After giving birth to her Dehere foal, Turko’s Turn was bred to Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch.
The mating produced a beautiful chestnut colt on March 27, 1998. The colt was inbred 4x4 to Raise A Native through Mr. Prospector and Alydar. His pedigree with full of champions and the colt was bursting with potential.
The young son of Turko’s Turn and Thunder Gulch was raised at Mill Ridge Farm, learning the basics of being a horse before learning how to be ridden. When his time came, the colt was named Point Given and transferred to the care of trainer Bob Baffert.
Two-Year Old Season (2000):
Point Given was bursting at the seams with both talent and orneriness. Bob Baffert had quite the work cut out for him as the young colt was energetic and stubborn. Nevertheless, Baffert persisted and Point Given debuted on August 12th, finishing 2nd.
The colt tried again on the 26th, this time breaking his maiden. He was officially ready for graded stakes company.
Baffert shipped his young, talented colt back home to Kentucky for the Gr.3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Stakes at Turfway Park. Point Given made a wide run from behind on the backstretch, running down his competitors with ease to win by 3 ½ lengths.
Before going back to California, Baffert took his colt to Belmont Park for the Gr.1 Champagne Stakes. This time Point Given was much closer to the leaders and was able to move past leaders on the rail, however he couldn’t hold off A P Valentine. Point Given suffered another second place finish in that year’s Gr.1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. He came closing down the stretch like a freight train, but did not have enough room to get to the wire first -- he finished second to Macho Uno by a nose.
After two constitutive narrow defeats, Baffert took his promising trainee back to California. Baffert prepped the colt for the Gr.1 Hollywood Futurity where Point Given rebounded with ease.
Three-Year Old Season (2001):
Point Given was given three months off before racing again. When he finally did make his return to the racetrack in March of 2001, it was not disappointing. Point Given won the Gr.2 San Felipe Stakes by 2 ¼ lengths.
The colt was now considered to be a favorite for the Kentucky Derby, but would have to make one more start before shipping back to Churchill Downs. Baffert entered the horse in the Gr.1 Santa Anita Derby. Though the track was muddy, Point Given won the race by 5 ½ lengths.
Things were looking good for Point Given prior to the Derby. He was so full of himself that he even gave Baffert and his exercise rider Pepe Aragon a scare one morning by rearing up multiple times after a workout.
But, everyone who knows anything about horse racing knows that the Kentucky Derby is a very hard race to win. Point Given was with the leaders at the top of the stretch, but tired to fifth while second-favorite Monarchos took the roses. Gary Stevens later attributed the loss to a foot infection that Point Given had developed a week before the race, saying that Churchill’s extremely fast racing surface made the foot more sensitive than it would have been otherwise.
It didn’t take very long for the “The Big Red Train” to redeem himself. He won the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Gr.1 Preakness Stakes, by 2 ½ lengths. "The real Point Given showed up today," Jockey Gary Stevens said after the race. "He put a great field away. He did it easily and all of America knows what a great racehorse he is now."
Though there was no chance at a Triple Crown victory, Point Given’s connections still wanted to run the horse in the Gr.1 Belmont Stakes. Again, the unruly colt gave his connections quite a scare prior to the race. He was known to act up in his stall and this time around his antics gave him a cut over his eye that needed stitches. Point Given got the stitches, but the medication he received afterwards had him acting colicky. Bob Baffert had the colt’s stomach lubricated and took his hay rack away for the night to prevent the horse from getting gas, leaving him with some alfalfa instead. Point Given was not very happy with his lack of hay and decided that he needed to escape his stall to search for some.
The mischievous colt crawled under the webbing of his stall, putting a gash on his side. He was loose, but only for a moment before grooms caught him and returned him to his stall.
Even with all of that commotion, Point Given was well enough to run in the Belmont Stakes. A crowd of almost 74,000 people poured into Belmont Park to see the quirky colt run. Point Given put on quite a show for them, winning by a dominant 13 lengths.
“Since 2001, he’s probably the best horse never to win the Triple Crown,” Gary Stevens recalled nine years later. “You move on, but I’m still haunted by his loss in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). For that pure feeling of confidence, the only horse I rode after him that gave me that same feel was Rock Hard Ten.”
With such a dominant win in the Belmont Stakes, it was only right that Point Given continue on the trail to prove himself as the best three-year old. Logically, the next step for Point Given was the Gr.1 Haskell Invitational.
On that early August day, Point Given displayed his true talent again. He came charging from last to catch the leaders at the top of the stretch, and when they tried to turn him away, Point Given fought back with everything he had. He stayed with them until a final burst of speed hit in mid-stretch, allowing him to pull away to win by ½ length. Despite conceding his rivals nine pounds and having to battle like he had before, Point Given was again a winner. Baffert took twenty days to prep his colt for the Gr.1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. The “Mid-Summer Derby” is known to lead champions to their defeat and the racing was nervous to see if there would be yet another upset in that important race. At the top of the stretch, it looked like Point Given may indeed be defeated. He got involved in a serious duel with E Dubai, the latter not wanting to give away his leading position. But after a little bit of urging from Gary Stevens, Point Given realized the importance of the duel and pulled away to win by 3 ½ lengths.
The Big Red Train’s win in the Gr.1 Travers made him the first horse since 1967 to win the Preakness, Belmont, and Travers -- just the 11th horse to ever do it. It also made him the first horse to ever win four consecutive $1 million races.
Things were looking good for Point Given, until they weren’t anymore. The day Point Given was expected to return to the racetrack for a workout, heat was discovered in his leg.
"After the Travers, he was fine," Bob Baffert explained to BloodHorse. "There was absolutely no problem, so it's hard to say how this happened. The day before he'd been rearing and was a little wild, so we decided to give him an extra day off.” They iced the leg and he seemed to be fine, but an ultrasound revealed that Point Given had a strained tendon. This injury would keep him out of racing for up to six months and his connections felt that it was too risky to try to race the horse again. They reached a decision to retire the colt.
"This horse had legs like a tree trunk," Baffert added. "When we found out what was wrong, I almost broke down in tears."
Point Given’s career was officially over. In a short amount of time, Point Given had taken the horse racing world on an adventure that spanned from coast to coast. He had earned nearly $4 million and ended with a record of 13:9-2-0. His only off the board finish came in the Kentucky Derby.
He was named 2001 Horse of the Year and Champion Three-Year Old Colt.
Retirement & Stud Career (2002-present):
Point Given stood at Three Chimneys Stud for $125,000. The farm had syndicated him for $50 million, which was the third highest price in history at that time. The stallion’s progeny were known to need more time to mature and performed very well around two-turns. He sired two Canadian Champions and multiple U.S. Gr.1 winners like Coil and Go Between.
In 2013, Point Given transferred to Calumet Farm where he stood at stud for four years before being pensioned. After being pensioned, Point Given took a short drive to his current home of the Kentucky Horse Park.
Today the “T-Rex” spends his days getting showered with love and appreciation from his fans at the Horse Park. He no longer takes trips to the breeding shed, but he seems to enjoy posing for photos during the Hall of Champions Presentation. Surely it reminds him of his days in the winner’s circle.
Point Given will forever be remembered for what might have been. Had his feet not been sore, or had the track been deeper, maybe Point Given would have won the Kentucky Derby and therefore the Triple Crown. Many consider him to be one of the best horses to fail at that task.
Regardless, he will go down in history. His breathtaking performances will always be re-watched, his antics will forever be laughed at. It will be impossible to forget a horse as powerful as he.
About the Author: Through her blog Champions of the Track, Kaeli Bartholomew works to grow the popularity of horse racing through stories, photos, and videos. She aims for her content to reach new fans and kindle the love of horse racing in current fans.
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