You never forget the name of your first lesson horse – that horse who taught you what you need to know to work with every one that follows.

In this series, participants throughout the Thoroughbred industry share the names and stories of the horses that have taught them the most about life, revealing the limitless ways that horses can impact the people around them. Some came early on in their careers and helped them set a course for the rest of their lives, while others brought valuable lessons to veterans of the business.

Question: Which horse has taught you the most about life?

Kazushi Kimura

Kazushi Kimura, jockey: “I won my first Grade 1 with Gretzky the Great. That moment is not going to be forgotten, and I’m always happy to ride for the Casse barn, Gary Barber, and Eclipse Thoroughbreds.

“I’ve always loved watching him, and riding him in the morning. Even if I couldn’t ride the horse because I had a different one, I still loved watching him.

“He always tried to listen to me. Some horses are just tough to ride, and are never going to listen, but Gretzky was so easy to ride. I really like that type of horse.

“I’m always happy to win stakes races, but a graded stakes, especially a Grade 1, is so much different for my career and my achievements. I hope there are more coming.”

Gretzky the Great wins the 2020 Summer Stakes at Woodbine.

About Gretzky the Great
2018, c., Nyquist x Pearl Turn, by Bernardini

Canada’s champion 2-year-old male of 2020 broke his maiden in his second career start at Woodbine, then parlayed that into a hard-fought win in the listed Soaring Free Stakes. The horse and Kimura each earned their first Grade 1 victory in the following start, the G1 Summer Stakes, which they won by 3 1/4 lengths.

Gretzky the Great earned a “Win and You’re In” berth to the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland by virtue of his Summer Stakes win, and he went on to finish sixth.

At three, Gretzky the Great spent the spring at Turfway Park, where he finished third in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, then he made a winning return to Woodbine that summer in the Greenwood Stakes.

Trained by Mark Casse for owners Gary Barber and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Gretzky the Great retired with four wins in 11 starts for earnings of $379,866. He retired to Ocala Stud in Florida, where he will stand his first season in 2023.

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