The "Real" Colonel John

Colonel John carries special legacy for namesake, Casners

Colonel John Geider

Colonel John met his human namesake, Colonel John Geider at Churchill Downs and promptly bit him on the hand.

John Geider, a United States Army colonel and close friend of Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt, had never seen the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner in the flesh until two days before the Tiznow colt's engagement as the probable second choice in the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Geider was deployed in Iraq when Casner and his wife, Susan, named Colonel John. They had been waiting for just the right colt to honor him.

They chose the Tiznow colt out of Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman, a broodmare who holds a special place in the heart of Susan Casner. The Casners bought her privately after she failed to meet her reserve in the 2001 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

"It wasn't my intention to buy her, but she said 'Susan, here I am,' and I had to buy her," Susan Casner said. "I always wanted her to have a colt to honor [Geider]."

Geider knows the Casners through Troutt, who hired him in 2006 to work for Excel Communications in risk management and security. In time, Geider and Troutt became close friends beyond their professional relationship, which continues to this day.

Geider, 52, even worked on racing and breeding matters when Troutt and Casner first purchased Prestonwood Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, in 2001 and renamed it WinStar Farms.

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"Mr. Troutt would ask me, 'Go do some statistical analysis on some horse, some trainer,' and now the staff is such that he doesn't need me to do anything but enjoy it," Geider said.  

Geider also became a close friend of the Casners. He was a source of comfort when their 23-year-old daughter, Karri, was killed in a bombing in Bali, Indonesia, in 2002.

Understandably, Geider and the Casners prefer not to talk specifically about the role he played in dealing with that very personal tragedy.

"I helped them as best that I could," Geider said. "What I was able to do was give them an idea of what the situation in that environment might be like and what they perhaps would be facing."

Susan Casner and Geider both emphasized that Colonel John's name is not solely an individual recognition.

"It's a way of thanking all the servicemen for serving their country and protecting us," Casner said. "9-11 is something that I will never forget. We all have friends that have lost loved ones in the war. It's to honor all of them and to thank them."

Geider said he hopes that message is heard throughout the world. Geider returned to active duty for about six months in Iraq in 2004 and '05 and remains in the Army Reserves.