I read the article below from the Daily Racing Form and I thought, what a lucky horse. He DID find the right trainer. How many would have just shipped him to kill? So let's talk! Who is the racing world is vehemently anti-slaughter? For an owner, which trainers can you trust to be honest with you and not to ship your horse to kill while telling you it went to a good home (apparently this happens a LOT and as the owners are often remote, they're none the wiser)?
The assumption is that the owners don't want to pay for other options but the owners tell me that assumption is wrong. They WOULD pay for retraining or rehab. They do NOT want their horse to end its life in a kill pen. Most racehorse owners are at least middle class if not better...they do indeed have the ability to take care of their failed or broken down horses, and some want to but their desires are being ignored. If you've owned racehorses, I'd particularly like to hear from you. And if you've had a bad experience or been lied to, by all means feel free to share!
And how much do MaryLou Whitney and her farm staff rock? I love them!
By Jay Hovdey
Just for a moment, let's pretend this is the way it works all the time.
During the summer of 2007, a 6-year-old swaybacked gelding named
Storm Legacy was turned over to trainer Pete Tardy at Penn National,
who was told by the owner, "You don't have to train him. Just board
him." Then, in early 2008, the owner tossed Tardy the keys. "He's
yours if you want him," was the message.
The fact that Storm Legacy was a son of champion sire Storm Cat meant
absolutely squat, since he had already run 42 times and had spent the
last year in the company of $4,000 and $5,000 claimers. Also, he was
dead lame, which explains why his barn nickname was "Ankles."
"If you'd have been in the shape he was in, you wouldn't want to get
out of bed in the morning," Tardy said the other day. "Anybody but
me, he would have been in New Holland. You know what New Holland is,
To anyone who thinks Thoroughbreds deserve a shred of dignity upon
leaving the racing stage, New Holland is definitely wrong. New
Holland, Pa., is the location of a major livestock auction where
buyers for slaughterhouses converge to scoop up horseflesh by the
pound. Whether or not slaughter is still legal in the United States
is beside the point. There is no federal law forbidding purchase and
transport to foreign processors.
So Storm Legacy dodged a bullet, just by waking up in the Tardy barn.
And then Tardy was inspired to give Storm Legacy a try. He worked
like a demon on those ankles, and by springtime the horse was in good
enough shape to go back to the races. He made 13 starts in 2008 for
Tardy and his wife, Donna, and hit the board six times, finally
winning one on Dec. 29.
Along the way, Tardy took a look at the back of Storm Legacy's foal
papers and found an unusual notification.
"It said whenever the horse was no longer raceable, they would like
to give the horse a home," the trainer said. "And there was Marylou
Whitney's phone number."
By April of this year, Storm Legacy had come to the end of the line.
Tardy made the call to the Whitney farm in Lexington, Ky., and a van
was dispatched to Penn National. Storm Legacy, bred by Whitney in
partnership with W.T. Young's Overbrook Farm, was going home.
"When he left here, I took off his nylon halter and put on a leather
halter," Tardy said. "Not a new one, but a real nice one."
It was a simple gesture of respect, and a gracious acknowledgement of
Storm Legacy's heritage. After all, he came into this world as a full
brother to the accomplished mare Catinca, out of a half-sister to the
top-class racehorses Hail Bold King and Metfield, and by a stallion
who had already sired more than 100 stakes winners.
Whitney and her husband, John Hendrickson, are part of a quiet but
growing movement among enlightened patrons to affix end-use
assurances to official foal papers. Storm Legacy settled right in
with two other geldings in a large paddock at the Whitney spread. And
why not? He didn't have to die to go to heaven.
"We were a little worried how he'd do with the other two, him being
younger and right off the track," said Kim Nelson, the Whitney farm
office manager. "But from the start, they were acting like old pals,
Storm Legacy's new friends are the half-brothers Brave All the Way,
age 14, and Cviano, who is 12. Another half-brother, equipment
intact, is otherwise occupied at Gainesway Farm down the road, where
he serves a full book of mares each year. His name is Birdstone, sire
of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont Stakes winner
While Storm Legacy was able to avoid the horrors of New Holland and
beyond, Cviano could tell a different tale. Named for the late C.V.
Whitney, Cviano had been lost in a claimer in 2001. Shortly after
Birdstone added the Travers Stakes to his victory over Smarty Jones
in the 2004 Belmont, Cviano was found at New Holland, on his way to
slaughter, by a volunteer with Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue, and steered
to Angel Acres Farm in Pennsylvania. When they found out, Whitney and
Hendrickson were quick to bring Cviano home.
Among the other residents at the Whitney farm is Dear Birdie, the dam
of Birdstone, Cviano and Brave All the Way. She is in foal to Street
Cry, which sounds great on paper, and there is always a chance she'll
produce another Birdstone, or better. Of course, there is just as
good a chance the foal with turn out more like Brave All the Way, who
ran 76 times and won 10 races, or Cviano, who was 4 for 49. Between
them they earned less than $200,000.
"This is about lives we created," said Hendrickson at the time of
Cviano's rescue. "We're responsible for them."
Such sentiments are rare, and yet to be held widely enough to find
widespread institutional support. There are no safety nets, and the
downward pressures on Thoroughbreds are relentless, because of both
economics and health. Even though he never got a whiff of the New
Holland kill pens, Storm Legacy must be considered a very lucky horse
to have stumbled upon the right people at the right time.
"If you ever talk to those folks in Kentucky," added Pete Tardy,
"tell them he absolutely loves those Starlite Mints. When he would
hear that wrapper crackling, he'd come right to the front of the stall."