What is it about some horses that captures fans’ imaginations?

Think legends like KelsoJohn Henry, and Whitmore, and then add one more name to that list: Dr Blarney.

This veteran gelding is on the precipice of a record as he prepares to say goodbye to his racing days. Behind him, an adoring fan base, including his breeder-owner, trainer, and jockey, are celebrating the longevity of this Massachusetts-bred, one of the last representatives of a state with deep racing roots.

Made in the Bay State

Massachusetts native Joseph DiRico remembers his first trip to the races at Suffolk Downs at age 11, a day when he won money on a 50-1 longshot named Fun Flight. That whetted his appetite for the sport, which he shared with his father; the two owned and bred Thoroughbreds for years, with Dr Blarney the product of several generations of broodmares the DiRicos bred themselves.

In addition to their band of mares, the DiRicos stood the stallion Disco Rico, a multiple Grade 3-winning sprinter, at Keane Stud in New York. There, Disco Rico shared the stallion barn with Dublin, the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes winner and son of 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex. “I always liked Dublin’s pedigree,” Joseph DiRico said. “I had a share in him. My mares were right there [at Keane], too.” One of those broodmares was Dr. Capote.

A DiRico homebred, Dr. Capote’s dam was Dr Margaret, a stakes winner who also produced Dance Gal Dance and Dr Disco, both black-type stakes winners by Disco Rico. Pairing Dr. Capote with Dublin produced Dr Blarney, who started his career as “a big, goofy-acting baby,” remembers Jessica Paquette, whose job as vice president of marketing at Suffolk Downs gave her a chance to see the chestnut in his earliest starts.