In 2009 a chance meeting at a convention in Lexington, KY changed the course of Shirley’s life. A series of strange events revived a childhood dream and gave her a new late-in-life mission. That chance encounter led to meeting a knowledgeable horsewoman who became an instant friend. Betsy informed her about an injured thoroughbred which was scheduled to be euthanized in 48 hours, so Shirley went to visit Extreme Supreme in the hospital and it was love at first sight. He would never race again, but he was the son of Hall of Fame Champion, Deputy Minister. The horse was being gifted to anyone who would pay for an operation to correct a sesamoid fracture.
There was no time to waste and no hesitation to step up to the plate to save his bloodlines, so after a few phone calls and signing papers, Shirley found herself standing at the viewing window to watch the operation. He was in good spirits when he came out of the anesthesia, he stood and walked fine on all fours. He was enjoying all the attention, especially all the treats he received from the daily entourage of visitors. He was the “Celebrity Horse” of the hospital and he knew it!
Then came the phone call bearing bad news. Shirley’s philanthropic gesture to save his life opened the flood gates of sorrow after the report of a failed surgery. The main screw that was supposed to correct the problem broke in two. The only glimmer of hope left was that she was told that she had a small window of opportunity to breed him before his eminent demise.
Even at its best, it was a near impossible task to find open mares with equally good pedigrees, but Shirley left her real estate business in Florida to stay in Kentucky until she had exhausted every possibility to accomplish the next phase of saving his bloodlines. The time it took to find the mares and get them “in season” proved to be fruitless. Her “small window of opportunity” closed and it was time to say good-by to her Gentle Giant before any suffering began.
A lot of tears were shed and scriptures quoted, “This too shall pass”. Eventually the pain subsided, but Shirley wasn’t done yet, she did the next best thing...she left the mares in Kentucky until spring breeding. One of the mares she had purchased was a daughter from Secretariat’s last foal crop. Shirley bred Secretariat’s Fire to Breeder’s Cup Sprint Champion, Midnight Lute, whose pedigree included Extreme Supreme’s brother, Dehere (by Deputy Minister, out of a Secretariat daughter, Sister Dot). His sire, Real Quiet, missed the Triple Crown by a photo finish, so this combination gave her the opportunity to honor not one, but three great Champions.
Reviewing the sequence of events made Shirley wonder about her destiny in relation to her childhood dream. Then, the release of the 2010 Secretariat movie left her feeling more convinced that her mission was predestined. The foaling scene of Secretariat’s birth brought tears and heightened the thrill of the soon-to-arrive grandchild carrying both his and Extreme Supreme’s bloodlines. Shirley created, “Breeding With a Mission” program and started living her dream. The results of her efforts finally manifested in 2011 with four foals. To her surprise, Secretariat’s Glory was the last to foal and arrived on May 25th…her 63rd birthday. What began as a humanitarian effort to save Extreme Supreme laid the foundation which spawned the mission. Four, soon to be five, crops later, it has since taken on a life of its own!