By Andrea Cordle
“I’ve never seen anything like her in the state of Ohio,” said Dr. John Graver reminiscing about his champion racehorse Glacial Princess. “She was the best horse in Ohio.”
Graver, who lives in Columbus, has always been involved in horse racing. He got his first race horse in 1969. It was 1982 when he came across Glacial Princess. He bought her as a yearling.
Graver knew from an early age that Glacial Princess was something special.
“She was nice to be around,” said Graver. “She was not hard to work with, but she was competitive. She did not like anyone in front of her.”
The Ohio-bred Glacial Princess trained at Beulah Park in Grove City.
She won 27 races and was named the Ohio Horse of the Year in 1985 and again in 1986.
“She could run against anyone,” said Graver. “She beat the boys just as much as she beat the girls.”
Glacial Princess had so much success, Graver had offers from others who wanted to buy her. But, Graver and his wife were attached to the horse and decided not to sell her.
In the spring of 1987, Glacial Princess broke down during the Ballerina Stakes at Beulah Park.
“She broke her leg right there on the track,” said Graver. “It was just a tragedy.”
The 6-year-old champion racehorse was euthanized and buried on the Grove City track.
Graver said this was a difficult time for his family. His wife was sick with cancer when she attended the race and watched as Glacial Princess broke down. She died two weeks after the horse she loved to watch on the track.
“It was a hard time,” said Graver.
A gravesite and headstone for Glacial Princess has been at Beulah Park since.
Ryan Brady, from Elyria, Ohio, was looking at that headstone during one of the last races at Beulah Park when he had an idea.
He knew Beulah Park was closing and he knew a new developer had purchased the property with plans for redevelopment.
“I had to do something,” said Brady. “I cannot see a parking lot on top of the resting place of a champion horse.”
Brady, who has spent the better part of his life involved in horse racing, decided he would help find Glacial Princess a peaceful resting place that would honor her.
“I never got to see her race, but she meant a lot to the people of Ohio,” he said.
Brady came up with a plan to exhume the remains of Glacial Princess. He reached out to Charlotte Farmer who led a similar effort to find the remains of Noor, a champion racehorse out of California. Farmer helped to contact the city, the developer and Glacial Princess’s owner to get the ball rolling.
The plan – exhume the remains of Glacial Princess and relocate her to Old Friends, a thoroughbred retirement farm in Georgetown, Ky.
The farm is a place for retired race horses, but it also has a Hall of Fame Cemetery that includes the remains of Noor, as well as other champion horses.
Will Bunstine, the president of construction with Grove City Beulah Investments Limited who purchased the property, said he had no idea there was a horse buried on the grounds.
“We were glad to help,” said Bunstine. “We have already removed the grandstands, so they should have unfettered access to where Glacial Princess was buried.”
On Jan. 21, Brady brought a friend with a backhoe to start digging.
Dr. Deanna Grimstead, professor of anthropology at The Ohio State University, and several of her students, also took part in the effort to find the remains of Glacial Princess.
After about eight hours of digging, the team could not find her.
Grimstead said they had received conflicting stories about where she was buried and if she was buried whole or just her head, heart and hooves.
They did find the bones of a small dog, believed to be a Jack Russell terrier that belonged to a Beulah Park groundskeeper.
“This was a great opportunity for us,” said the OSU professor. “We look for opportunities to get involved with the community and we consider it a successful dig in finding the dog bones.”
But, Brady was disappointed.
“We did what we could,” he said.
Instead of taking the bones of Glacial Princess to Old Friends, Brady took the soil from her gravesite, along with soil from the finish line and the winner’s circle to help create a memorial for the Ohio champion. Graver has also decided to donate her headstone to the retirement farm.
“We will do our best to nevertheless honor her spirit and her greatness,” said Cindy Grisolia, with Old Friends.
Old Friends is open to the public by appointment. Graver said he plans to make the trip once the memorial has been set up for his beloved Glacial Princess. For more information on Old Friends, contact the farm at 502-863-1775.
Beulah Park hosted the Glacial Princess Stakes until the track closed. The race is now held at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course.
Beulah Investments Limited has plans for a mixed use development at the Beulah Park site.
According to Bunstine, they also have plans for a central park, which would include a memorial garden to honor Grove City’s rich horse racing history.
“We are doing what we can to pay tribute to its long history,” said Bunstine.
Brady only hopes the park and memorial garden are located above the remains of Glacial Princess – also known as The Iron Lady.