The contrast between eastern Levy County and western Marion County couldn’t be more remarkable. Levy County east of Williston is home to poor African-Americans and western Marion County is the home of Florida’s horse country. Despite a number of for-sale signs on the farms, the breeding and racing business appears to be, if not thriving, then hanging on. Baroque iron gates swing back to reveal close-cropped lawns that are brown after Florida’s recent hard freezes; here and there you see the outline of a half-mile practice track. Signs advertise not just thoroughbreds but also quarter horses and “paints.” A local farrier has ambitiously tacked his simple advertisement to multiple trees throughout the area. This is the wealthy and “desirable” part of rural Florida, a point that is driven home by a for-sale sign hanging at the end of the driveway of a single-wide mobile home. “Showcase Home!” it boasts.
Along the 329 south of Flemington, though, things are a bit humbler. A dilapidated barn stands just beyond a short dirt driveway where further passage is blocked by a rusted iron fence. A small sign announces that you’ve arrived at Star Lawn, Home of T-Apollo.
There’s neither horse nor human in sight.
The only T-Apollo revealed in a frankly not exhaustive Internet search is a man in South Carolina who produces “hiphop, soul, and nunok” music. This is where syllogism can be faulty. While it’s possible that the human T-Apollo was born and bred in Marion County, Star Lawn is surrounded by breeding operations and if the breeder has bred a horse of any repute, then that horse’s name is hung like a calling card right at the main gate. A search of The Jockey Club Interactive Registry shows no T-Apollo, but this means absolutely nothing. T-Apollo’s name may be available because he is deceased or because he has not raced or been bred in the past five years.
Those interested in the structure of the English language will join me in wondering about the hyphen. We’ve got a guy up in South Carolina who has hit upon the same rendering of the name. Thoroughbred names can be outstanding examples of misguided creativity or of poor grammar or of brilliance; come to think of it, so can the names of humans. But what is the chance that since “T-Apollo” appears to signify absolutely nothing that both a man and a horse would share it? Have we seen humans with the stage names of “Uhmm Alot” or “Nut Buster”?
It came to my mind that T-Apollo may not be a thoroughbred at all, or he may not be a horse but a bull. The only thing that seems factual is that Star Lawn has no Web site and that it doesn’t appear to be doing a booming business. It’s little mysteries like these that make exploring rural Florida so interesting and it would be more so if the adventurer had the guts to drive through the gate and ask for some answers. Until that time, we can only puzzle on the mystery of the name’s origin and to whom or what it belongs.