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Lamborghini In Black - People’s Choice Morgan Horse Of The Year

by Ann Bullard

A horseman’s dream. That’s the way trainer David Rand describes World Champion Lamborghini In Black.

To quote Rand more accurately, he said, "Every time he goes through the in-gate, he turns into everything you dream of as a horseman. He warms up slow, just bouncing around. When he hears the bugle, his ears go up, his back goes down – and the rest is in the history books."

Lamborghini In Black began the 2007 season with a breathtaking performance in the spotlight at the UPHA Chapter 14 Symphony Of Horses

There is no doubt the 11-year-old stallion writes headlines in show horse history books. Robert Hughes introduced him to the Morgan world at the 1999 World Championships, winning the Park Harness Two-Year-Old World Futurity and the Three-Year-Old Park Harness World Futurity and World Championship. He and Hughes added the Four-Year-Old Park Harness Stallion title and World Championship in 2001 to the young stallion’s resume.

Hughes spoke about the stallion he and the late Rock Walker brought along. "Customers of ours [James Hangley & Tracy Fietz of Morgan Ridge Farms] bred him. He was born on our farm."

Hughes said Lamborghini was "quite scroungey looking as a baby. He was in a paddock behind the barn and put on a show when people came around to see him. He was a great horse to work. Right from the beginning he went out every day, did whatever I asked of him and put on a show every time he went out. He would do anything I asked him to do. I told people that if I had aimed him at a brick wall, he would have done it."

‘Luigi,’ as he is known to his friends and fans, "was a character with a great personality," according to Hughes. "He had the first stall inside the door, across from the office. Every time we walked in the door, he’d be there talking to us. He’d do anything to get attention and carry on until someone gave it to him."

Lamborghini stepped up to the Open Park Harness Division in 2002. Hughes was looking forward to a great year for Mendonhall Morgans who purchased him prior to his three-year-old year.

"In the Far West Regionals qualifying class he probably was the best he’d ever been. That night, he was like nothing else," Hughes recalled. "He was his normal self back in the championship. The next day, he was sick as a dog."

The Morgan world almost lost the charismatic stallion – at least so far as the show ring was concerned. That illness sidelined him for most of two seasons.

"He basically hung out at Rick Lane’s in Maine after he recuperated from his illness," Steere said. "He hadn’t really campaigned him, but used him some for their in-house breeding program."

Lamborghini comes from impeccable bloodlines. By Simply Maserati and out of JL’s Dear Sal, he is a full brother to And The Beat Goes On. Even though Lamborghini primarily was a breeding stallion, Lane kept working him. In 2006, he brought the stallion to the New England Regional.

"I hadn’t thought of Lamborghini in years," Steere said. "I saw him come through the gate in the Novice Park Saddle class. It was a small class early in the morning and only a few other people and I were on the rail.

"He came out of the early morning haze and I saw that horse as he was when he won at Oklahoma. I saw what he could become. With warts and all, I saw him as God intended him to be," she said.

Steere’s late mother had been "a gaited-horse girl. After she died, I had been looking for a horse I thought she would approve of. When I saw him come in the gate, I knew he was Mom’s horse. I told myself, ‘This is the one!’"

Initially, Steere stood almost alone in her love affair with Lamborghini, who is known as Luigi at the barn. "I was bucking the tide on this one," she said, explaining that she went against everyone’s advice. "The vet told me, ‘well, I don’t know, Grace.’ My trainer [David Rand] said, ‘If you think he’s the one …"

It took the rest of the show season and into the winter for Steere to finally complete the deal. David Rand took him in hand.

"Grace fell in love with him, bought him and we’ve kept working him. Every day, this horse has gotten better. The more he understands what you want, the more he gives," Rand said. "He was a great young horse. We happened to be at the right place at the right time and it all came together."

What Rand has done with Lamborghini is in the record books. Plans are for Steere to show him this season. She revels in her practice rides – and is looking forward to the end of April, when she expects to make her debut on ‘her mother’s horse.’

"He likes to rear back and fly but he just stays under me. David says, ‘Don’t worry. He’s going to keep you in the middle,’" Steere said.

At home – and until it’s time to go to work at the horse shows, Lamborghini simply is a laid-back horse. "He’s not studdy," she continued. "I’ll put my arms around his neck and he locks his head on my back so I can’t move. I have to stand there and scratch him."

The Northampton grandstand ring came to life with the emergence of Lamborghini In Black in the Park Saddle Stallions setting the stage for Oklahoma

"At shows, he sleeps the entire time between workouts. He really knows, which is a cool thing," his owner commented.

"He’s willing, gentle and kind. Yet when he hits the ring, don’t get in his way. He knows what he’s doing. The louder people scream, the more he pops up," she said.

And scream they do, ending with a standing ovation as Rand tipped his hat to the audience after winning the 2007 Park Saddle World Championship. The horse many had discounted came back to the scene of former glories and made believers of them all.

Hughes concedes he regrets losing Lamborghini to another trainer. "I’m glad he’s where he is. Oklahoma was the first time I’ve seen him in person. He looks incredible," said the trainer, who admits to shedding tears while watching the black champion from the in-gate.

Rand had a ball. "People told me they’d never seen me smile so much. I never had so much fun in my life."

He also had the fun of showing Lamborghini’s daughter, Queen’s Starfire, to the 2005 Three Year Old Park Harness Grand National and World Championships, and another Oklahoma title as a four-year-old. Although he has but 15 get, ‘Luigi’ already has proven his value in the breeding shed. World Champion Diablo In Red, Reserve World Champion SPR Tease Me and Regional Champion Everlast Black Cashmere head the list of his offspring in the show ring.

There’s a saying, ‘I’d rather be lucky than good.’ Steere definitely believes in both.

"You have to listen to that little voice, no matter where it’s coming from," she said of her decision to buy Lamborghini In Black. I just went with it."

Rand has enjoyed the combination of lucky and good that Lamborghini brought to Schaeffer Farm. His owner hopes to do the same in 2008.

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