Count me among the curious. I had no plans to bid on horses at the auction at Rita Crundwell's Red Brick Road ranch. I wasn't assigned to the story. I just wanted to witness the circus-like atmosphere Sunday.
It reminded me of a mini-county fair. A lot of denim. A row of food vendors. Horses on display. An auction.
One difference: No parking.
Shuttle buses took auction-goers to the ranch, with stops in downtown, Borg Warner and the airport, among other places. On the 10 a.m. bus, most of the people held bid packets, showing their seriousness. Others seemed to be lookie-lous, just like me.
At the ranch, I got a bite to eat and then looked at some of the horses.
Crundwell had a theme with her horses' names – wealth. The names included "Money's Moxie," "Invited to the Party," "One Posh Kid," "Potential Fortune."
The most eye-popping name, though, was "Have Faith in Money." Indeed, the federal government used that name to title its seizure case against Crundwell, the former Dixon comptroller accused of misappropriating $53 million from the city over more than two decades.
Crundwell has yet to get her day in court. But it's fair to say that Crundwell knew money, as a visit to her ranch demonstrates.
Sandra Morgan also knows money. At the auction, Morgan bought the three-time world champion performance halter stallion, "Good I Will Be," for $775,000.
In May 2011, Morgan won $35.7 million in the Canadian Lottery. And it changed her life. The money helped her show horse business. Her husband quit his job. And she got to satisfy her shopping addiction, according to GoHorseShow.com.
"I don't think anyone has treated us differently – oh, except for when we were in Las Vegas and my husband ordered a $3,600 bottle of Rothschild red wine at dinner," she said in a January interview with GoHorseShow.com. "The managers came down to meet us and shake our hands and told us we were always welcome there."
And Morgan certainly was welcome in Dixon, which hopes to get the money from the horse sale.
Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.