Photo courtesy of Pam Link

Yesterday, November 15, 2011, The Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB) presented the third “Touch of Class” Award to Silver medalists John Crandell III and Heraldic. As The Equiery reported earlier on, Crandell and his Triple Crown winning Arabian gelding won two silver medals (individual and team) at the Pan American Games held in Chile on Oct. 21. Crandell and Heraldic will lead the U.S. Team in the World Endurance Championship in England in 2012 – an event held simultaneously with the 2012 Olympics. Channel 2 News from Baltimore was on site to cover the event.

During the award presentation, Ashley Valis, deputy director of the Governor’s Intergovernmental Affairs, presented the Crandell’s with a proclamation from Governor Martin O’Malley, declaring November 15 “Heraldic and Crandell Family Day.” 

“Maryland has an impressive history of raising the finest equine athletes who continually distinguish our great State around the world,” said Governor O’Malley. “I’d like to commend the Crandell Family for their legendary accomplishments and commitment to the highest standards of equine training and care. We look forward to the continued success of Heraldic and the Crandells as they represent Maryland and the United States at the World Championship next year.”

Heraldic was in routine quarantine in Miami after flying back from Chile, but was released in time to make it to his official homecoming and silver medal celebration event today. Heraldic mingled with well-wishers, ate a few Maryland-grown apples, which were also provided to guests, and posed for pictures in front of the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) headquarters in Annapolis.

“Maryland’s rich history of horse-related agriculture goes back centuries, and Heraldic is a prime example of why horses and their stories are so enduring,” said MDA Deputy Secretary Mary Ellen Setting during the awards ceremony. “Maryland’s equine industry has assets totaling more than $5.6 billion and employs more than 28,000 people. Heraldic is a wonderful symbol of this important industry, and we are proud to host him here at MDA today.”

Endurance racing is a long-distance race of 50 to 100 miles, with veterinarians making mandatory medical checks of the horses at strategic points along the course. Major endurance racing courses are typically 100 miles and completed in a single day. Winning riding times vary between 6.5 and 13 hours, depending on the natural terrain of the course. Heraldic has been particularly versatile as an athlete, winning on the fastest as well as the most arduous courses in America. The Pan Am Games race course was a 75 mile course which Crandell and Heraldic completed in 6:03:38. The Crandell family has received recognition all over the world for its success in training elite endurance horses, and today’s celebration is their first official recognition in Maryland.

Heraldic’s story is the stuff of legend.

Heraldic became the only horse ever to win the Triple Crown of Endurance Riding in 2006. Those three races are the Old Dominion 100 in Virginia, the Tevis Cup in California, and the American Endurance Ride Conference Championship. In each of those events, Heraldic also received the “Best Conditioned Horse” award. And Crandell – who has been a professional farrier and trainer since 1983 – was named Overall Horseman of the Year in 2007 by Chronicle of the Horse magazine.

But in 2008, Heraldic suffered a life-threatening injury when he badly injured his stifle (i.e., the joint at the end of the thigh corresponding to the human knee) and had to recuperate without bearing any weight on the injured leg for months. Heraldic spent two years in rehabilitation but came back last year to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown again as well as his two silver medals at the Pan Am Games last month. In 2010, he also won the FITS 100 miler with a time of 7:58. Heraldic’s astonishing comeback is a major reason the MHIB selected to honor him and his trainer.

“This is a magnificent horse and a magnificent family that has made great achievements on the international stage,” said Erin Pittman, vice chair of the MHIB. “Heraldic is a world class athlete who has overcame injuries that would have retired most other horses, and the Crandells are a family that have dedicated themselves to excellence in the equine industry. We are so pleased to welcome Heraldic and John Crandell back home to Maryland after their stunning performance at the Pan Am Games.”

The Crandell family operates the Long Run Farms Stable in West River, MD (Anne Arundel Co.) and has made taking care of horses, especially Heraldic, a family affair. They have also operated the marine construction firm E.A. and J.O. Crandell Inc. in Annapolis since 1948.

The MHIB’s “Touch of Class” Award, named after the Maryland-bred Olympic gold-medal winning horse, is presented to horses and people who represent the highest standards of excellence in Maryland’s equine community. This is the third “Touch of Class” award presented by the MHIB. 


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