It started off innocuous enough. Social media is known for its ability to spread news quickly, all too often in a negative way. In this instance, though, Michelle Pitts sought information on a foal she had the pleasure of interacting with while she worked at Brandywine Farm in Paris, Kentucky.
Michelle posted in one of the bigger groups on Facebook, OTTB Connect, looking for an adorable, bald faced colt named By a Hundredth. Owned by Michael Phelps’ racing stable, Charm City Racing, the colt raced 13 times, earning a shade under $47,000 before disappearing from Michelle’s radar.
“I just loved him when he was a foal,” she said. “He was a favorite on the farm, so I tried to keep track of him once he went on from our farm. When he hadn’t raced in awhile, I wondered if he had been injured or retired, but I thought someone was sure to have heard of him, especially since he was owned by Michael Phelps.
It took only minutes after posting her query in OTTB Connect for Michelle to find her answer. “Lochte,” as he is now called, is now owned by Hillary Irwin, an upper-level event rider based in Elkin, North Carolina.
Lochte was trained by Graham Motion during his racing career, and both Mr. Motion and Mr. Phelps have sought to find suitable homes for their horses as they transition from the track. To that end, Hillary has formed a relationship with the Motion staff and has actually purchased several horses from their program, Lochte included.
“I actually was not looking for myself, but for a client,” Hillary said. “But (Lochte) was just the cutest thing. He was just about 15.3 and had just raced a few days before I saw him, and when he came out of the stall I just knew I wanted him. I let him go out in turnout in Florida for the first few months and then I started riding him in June of last year. He’s now going Training level and progressing very well!”
Hillary says that Lochte is brave — sometimes too brave! — and is a lovely mover on the flat. She is excited about his potential as an event horse and has recently formed a syndicate for those who would like to support her endeavors with him.