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Mizrahi - People’s Choice Horse Of The Year

Mizrahi is a fan favorite whose good looks,

conformation, athletic ability and personality

 are the complete package.



by Ann Bullard


It takes a special horse to transition from spending four years in the breeding shed to winning world championship honors at the Morgan Grand National and World Championship Horse Show. Yet Mizrahi, more properly Isaac Mizrahi, the horse you voted Horse World’s People’s Choice Morgan Horse of the Year, did just that. And he did so with what fans call “his own style.”


When the Hazen and Clapp families decided to leave the West Coast to establish PlayMor Farm in Lexington, Ky., their plan was to operate a private training and breeding farm. They wanted a foundation stallion that would represent their concept of a Morgan horse. They didn’t have to search long.


“We knew the horse we wanted,” Sammi Hazen said. “Mizrahi was at the top of our list – with lots of room between him and other horses.”


The Design Group (trainer Bob Hughes, who worked the stallion from the time he was four-years-old, the Fu family of Dragonsmeade Farm and Pete and Sandy Hendrick of Queen’s River Farm) agreed to the sale.


Mizrahi is exactly what breeder Louise Shane and her trainer Glenn Bouvier, expected him to be. Shane named the HVK Bell Flaire and Schiaparelli son after the fashion designer, Isaac Mizrahi, a man almost as well known for his zest for life as for his work in the clothing industry. The name has proven to be a good choice. The equine Isaac loves his life and work.


Isaac, as he is known to friends and fans, was shown lightly through his five-year-old year. He swept the stallion in hand competition at the 1999 New England Morgan as a three-year-old with Rick Stevens showing for Pete and Sandy Hendrick and Queen’s River Farm. In 2001, he swept the Morgan Medallion Regional stallion competition for the Design Group. That October, Bob Hughes led the dark bay to three reserves in senior stallion competition at Oklahoma.


Isaac has proven equally successful as a sire. Queen’s Victorian Lady, Queen’s Guardian, Queen’s Romeo, Dragonsmeade Maxmara and Joan Rose show their sire’s beauty, fire and talent. His full brother, Bellissimo, has several World Champion Park titles with Judy Whitney Harris. Dragonsmeade owns his full sister who is part of their select broodmare band.


“Everyone dreams of having a once-in-a-lifetime horse,” Bouvier said of the stallion he started. No one can argue that Isaac fits this bill. Sammi Hazen has more than paid her dues along the way to having him in her care.


A third generation horse trainer, Hazen started off riding hunters and jumpers, Morgans, Arabians and Saddlebreds. When her mother trained for a big Morgan Farm in the Northwest, Hazen began attending Morgan shows. As fate would have it, Bill Hazen also was in the horse business. She was 14 when they met.


“I gave up hunters so I could go to shows with him,” she said. “I’m still married to my high school sweetheart.”


They celebrated their 25th anniversary this winter by taking family members on a cruise to the Western Caribbean where they renewed their wedding vows on the beach.


“Bill is my lead man. I train [and show under saddle and in harness]; he leads and does ride and drive as well,” she said.


The Hazens operated successful training barns in the Midwest, moving back to Washington state due to a family member’s illness. As the Clapp and Hazen families became more and more involved with Morgans, they realized they needed a farm of their own. Rather than build a large operation so far from the center of horse activity, in 2005 they purchased property in Lexington, Ky. Adding Isaac to their group of stallions has established PlayMor as one of the premier Morgan breeding farms.


Hazen and her partners elected to bring the 10-year-old back to the show ring. He had shown in New England as a youngster. When the Design Group purchased him, the stallion moved to the West Coast.


“A lot of people were waiting to see him,” Hazen said. “They were excited to have him back in the show ring. Many had bred to Isaac but had never seen him.”


Their first stop: the Gold Cup Regional. Isaac left Springfield, Ohio with three victories, in the Stallions Five and Over, Senior Champion and Grand Champion competition. They moved on to New England with the same results.


In October, the PlayMor group ventured to Oklahoma City. Mizrahi was their superstar, but certainly not their only winner. Jacqueline Clapp drove Med-E-Oka Nobel Prize to win the Classic Pleasure Driving Masters World Championship and the Grand National qualifier. Austin McLallin and HVK Primary Light drove off as Grand National Champions in Pleasure Driving Junior Exhibitor 12 and 13 competition before tying reserve in the World Championship. Anna McLallin, Jennifer Hazen, Cathy Hazen, Whitney Hazen as well as Bill, and Sammi all won performance ribbons.


Bouvier says he recognized Isaac as a special horse “from the time he was a baby. He had an inner spirit most colts don’t have. He is game and sensitive at the same time. He just was a fireball. If you sneezed, he jumped. Yet he is extremely kind and never stud-like, strikey, bitey or anything else.”


What makes Isaac special in trainer Robert Hughes’s mind? “His great attitude,” he responded. “He thinks he is the greatest horse and shows it every time he goes in the show ring.”


Hughes currently trains several Mizrahi offspring including Kosta Boda, the reigning Grand National Champion Three-Year-Old Stallion and several other promising youngsters.


“Isaac is a cool dude,” Sammi Hazen said. “He is what you would expect from that breeding, dark in color with a refined neck and all the charisma of the mare. Horses like him don’t come along every day. He stands quietly in cross ties; walks to the arena quietly. Then you drop the lines, he puts his head up in air and his tail over his back. He is all show. He is awesome; every day is a show day with him. When people in the arena watch him work, he needs to put on a show. You bring him back to his stall, go in with him and he’ll close his eyes while you love on him.


“He’s just a special guy. If he were human, I’d leave my husband,” Hazen said with a laugh.


What does Isaac’s future hold? No one has a crystal ball, but it’s fair to say he’ll be back on the road as well as in the breeding barn. Suffice it to say that this once-in-a-lifetime horse enjoyed the season of a lifetime in 2006. And he did so with his own style, in the Mizrahi way.


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