Foggy Night
Photo Credit: Kim Pratt

“I was just plain lucky,” said 91 year old Bill “Poppy” Gotwals when asked about picking out his graded stakes winning filly, Foggy Night. From his farmhouse in the scenic Oley Valley of Pennsylvania, Gotwals, co- founder of Brook Ledge Horse Transportation, described how he bought Foggy Night at the 2022 OBS 2 year old sale. “I was sitting in my usual seat, and I was bidding, but the auctioneer wasn’t taking my bid. I got up and moved to a different seat and bid on her, and the other auctioneer took my bid, and I got her for $20,000. It turned out that my son told the auctioneer not to take my bids, so I was glad I changed seats. The filly fit my criteria. I wanted a filly, and I didn’t want any white on her legs because I was always told white legs and feet are a sign of weakness. She only has a small spot of white on her head, and I looked her over, and she was nice and straight and looked good. I didn’t go by pedigree, just what I saw in the book and how she looked.”

Foggy Night broke her maiden last October in her third start at Parx and finished out her 2 year old year with a second in the Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct and a sixth place in the Demoiselle Stakes, Grade 2 at Aqueduct. This year, the Khozan filly won the Delaware Oaks, Grade 3 at Delaware Park, was second in the Monmouth Oaks, Grade 3 at Monmouth Park, and last time out, won the Cathryn Sophia Stakes at Parx. With total earnings of over $440,000, she’s nominated to the Grade 1 Cotillion and the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on September 23rd.

Bill “Poppy” Gotwals

“I want to give credit to my trainer, Butch Reid at Parx. He’s done a great job with her. This is my first race horse, and I wanted a local trainer so I could go and watch her run. I’ve been to most of her races, and I’m excited to go to this next one. We gave her a little break in the winter in Ocala, and she’s been running real good this year,” explained Gotwals. “I have another horse named   First Joke that’s a two year old that I bought as a weanling at Keeneland in Kentucky. I’m lucky with her too. Butch Reid trains her too, and she won her first race at Delaware Park this year.”

“My brother and I started out in the trucking business with one truck in the early 1950’s. I drove the truck, and we hauled hogs to Indiana. When the chance came to start Brook Ledge, my brother Bob was against it, but I won out, and here we are. Now, most of our business is transporting race horses and horses from the sales.” Brook Ledge Horse Transportation Inc. is currently one of the largest horse transportation companies in North America. “For years, when I was at a sale, I sat in the sales ring and studied the horses and took notes. I bought these horses because I want to give back to the industry that we’ve been involved with all these years, and I want to enjoy the experiences with my family,” said Gotwals.

Foggy Night
Photo Credit: Kim Pratt

According to Gotwals’ granddaughter, Andrea, “Poppy doesn’t understand the word retirement. It’s not in his vocabulary. Up until last year, he was driving his pick-up truck, and we would put him on his tractor, and he cut hay. His routine was to come to the office everyday too which is right here on the property. After an illness, he lost some of his muscle tone, and he can’t do those things anymore. Having this horse gives him something to look forward to and share with his family.”

Trainer Butch Reid decided on the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes for Foggy Night where she is post position 1 and will be ridden by Florent Geroux. As Poppy Gotwals was ready to start his morning exercises in the great room of his farmhouse, he said “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I consider myself a lucky man.” A quote by the writer C.S. Lewis sums up “Poppy” Gotwals outlook on life. “You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.”


Cover Photo Credit to Kim Pratt

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