Monday, August 24, 2009

Tour of the Cat-- A tale of an 11 year race horse and those that cared

The Second Race is dedicated to ensuring that ex-race horses find a second chance. Here is a reprint of an article by Joe Drape and the account of one such horse, Tale of the Cat. Enjoy!

August 24, 2009

Around the Final Turn, and Heading for a Home


GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Tour of the Cat looks at home here in this prime patch of Kentucky bluegrass. Among about 50 fellow retirees are some of the most revered names in horse racing, like Sunshine Forever and Ogygian. These horses won tens of millions of dollars on the racetrack.Tour of the Cat belongs with them. He is a multiple graded-stakes winner who earned more than $1.1 million over a nine-year career. Still, he is lucky to be here.

Just last month, Tour of the Cat, 11, was at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., competing at racing’s lowest levels. He had at least one sore ankle and raced for the 79th time, managing to beat only one other horse. His odyssey from bottom-level horse to unlikely stakes champion and back again illustrates how many in the racing industry routinely overlook their responsibility to aging animals.Tour of the Cat might have made an 80th start if not for a group of racehorse devotees who know one another mostly through the Internet and who share a conviction that old horses should be retired with dignity.

The group found a sympathetic horse owner, Maggie Moss, who claimed Tour of the Cat for the rock-bottom price of $5,000 on its behalf.She then shipped him here to Old Friends at Dream Chase Farm. “It was like finding Babe Ruth sleeping under a bridge,” said Michael Blowen, the farm’s president and founder. “They breed 36,000 of them every year, and three years later only one of them is going to win the Kentucky Derby.

The question is, What happens to the rest of them?”At least 3,000 racehorses come off the track annually in need of homes, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation estimates, and only about one-third of them are as fortunate as Tour of the Cat. Many more are abandoned, euthanized or slaughtered. Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner, wound up slaughtered in Japan in 2002 after failing as a stallion. Even though the federal government closed the last United States slaughterhouse in 2007, horses are regularly sold at auction and trucked to slaughter in Mexico or Canada.

In fact, it was the appearance this year of racehorses belonging to the prominent breeder and owner Ernie Paragallo in a New York kill pen, one step from being slaughtered, that led to an investigation and subsequent charges, on 35 counts of animal cruelty. Paragallo pleaded not guilty, but nearly 100 of his horses were taken from his Center Brook Farm, south of Albany. “The bottom end of the rung can be hideous for a horse,” said Hal Handel, chief operating officer of the New York Racing Association. “Collectively it’s the responsibility of the industry. That’s the racetracks, the breeders, the owners, you know, everyone who makes a living off or touches the animal owes the animal something back.”

The Derby dreams of Tour of the Cat and his owner, Susan Gannon, ended in the spring of 2001 when he finished a well-beaten second in the Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah Park. Even though Gannon was new to the racing game, she understood that Tour of the Cat, a gelding she had claimed for $25,000, was developing too slowly to be a Derby horse. She instead chose a diet of modest stakes races in Florida. Her plan worked, and by the time he was 6, Tour of the Cat was a consistent stakes winner and even ran in a $2 million stakes in Dubai. “I was blessed to have him,” Gannon said, her voice cracking. “He took me all over the world.” But his long decline began late that year, when Tour of the Cat injured his right front foot and was turned out to pasture to heal for 17 months. Now, Gannon wishes she had left him there. Tour of the Cat was 8 — an advanced age for an American thoroughbred to be racing — when he returned to the track in 2006. He was no longer a stakes horse but a durable and popular claiming horse on the Florida circuit.

In claiming races, which are staples of everyday racing, any licensed owner can buy any horse running at an established price. On Nov. 29, 2008, that price was $16,000.“It was supposed to be his last race,” said Gannon, who lives on a small farm with a handful of mares in Ocala, Fla., “and then I was bringing him home.” Instead, Tour of the Cat was claimed by David Jacobson, who had had success with older accomplished horses in New York. “They are professional, seasoned,” Jacobson said. “If you put them in with cheaper horses, their back class shows.” Jacobson’s subsequent campaigning of the horse was noticed by horse rescue advocates. In a span of 36 days in January, Tour of the Cat raced three times in New York and once in Maryland. He won twice and finished second and fourth at the lowest level of the sport. “I was seeing things on the message boards about this 10-year-old horse with a wonderful record that deserved better than getting the last bit of juice squeezed out of him,” said Beverly Strauss, executive director of Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue, which usually buys slaughter-bound racehorses.

In June, Strauss became more concerned when she heard from Dr. Margaret Ohlinger, the veterinarian at Finger Lakes racetrack in upstate New York, that Tour of the Cat was on the grounds and no longer fit to race. Ohlinger is also co-founder of the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program, which is run in collaboration between horsemen and the track’s management. Ohlinger scratched Tour of the Cat hours before a June 27 race, although he was the favorite.“His left front tendon was swelled, hot and sore to the touch,” Ohlinger said. “He was too thin, and his muscle condition didn’t look like he was in racehorse condition. It was a disservice to the horse, the rider and the other riders to let him run.”She discovered that Tour of the Cat had been scratched in the spring by the track veterinarian at Aqueduct, and that Jacobson intended to send him to run at Presque Isle Downs. Strauss orchestrated a $2,500 offer for the horse to be retired, but Jacobson declined. “I believed he was in good condition, and had some races left,” Jacobson said.

Strauss contacted Moss, an Iowa-based lawyer who has a large stable of horses, who made the claim with money from Internet supporters.“We had hoped the industry would take care of cases like this,” Ohlinger said. “But it’s really the fans who do not know much about horses who are doing right by most of these horses.”

Some in the racing industry have recently increased the focus on finding second homes for retired thoroughbreds. The New York Racing Association, for example, raised $125,000 to work with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation to try to find homes for all former racehorses in New York State. Tour of the Cat, meanwhile, has put on 50 pounds and is getting used to ranging at his leisure. It will cost Old Friends about $2,000 a year to keep him at the farm, said Blowen, its founder. He remains mystified why a multibillion-dollar agribusiness does not do better by its stars.“Without them, there’s nothing,” Blowen said. “There is none of this bluegrass, no horse business, no racing, no jockeys, there’s nothing. There’s no feed people or veterinarians or anything. It’s all because of them that everyone’s here. And at the end of the day, we can’t just treat them like trash and throw them to side of the road.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Mustang Not Main Course" logo tee available for purchase

It is with great pleasure that The Second Race launches it's second of several message campaigns for racing breeds and other horses. The newest offering is designed to support one of the most American of Icons, the Mustang called "Mustang Not Main Course".

While The Second Race is primarily concerned with ex-racers and horses bred to race; the wild horse touches most of us with their ability to connect to something deep inside of us that wishes to run free, unfettered and without constraints. As with the "Thoroughbred Not Throw Away" each logo is designed to deliver a strong message slated to create a dialogue, educate, raise awareness and most importantly funds to support selected organizations and the work that The Second Race was founded upon-- Networking for Results and saving horses.

Using logo tees, The Second Race will share its philosophy in an intriguing way, that horses have the ability to do many occupations or can be loved to do absolutely nothing but be a companion for it's human. The important message is that horses are often in potential harm, when considered "unwanted" or no longer of service. Recent news stories in particular have highlighted the unique position that wild horses and mustangs currently find themselves in. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the wild horse and mustang, have a long history together, and rarely has the horse benefited. Currently the BLM is looking to cull a herd of one of the most infamous of wild horses, Cloud. The culling of herds basically provides additional grazing land to cattle. Those with the most money seem to be winning this race. Wild horses find themselves in harms way and sent to slaughter if they are not adopted or taken in by a sanctuary. The BLM has horses years at a time in cramped pens awaiting a solution to the growing number of horses that it houses at tax payers expense.

The purchase of a "Mustang Not Main Course" t-shirt today, means you are not only showing your support of this iconic breed but it will actually go to help facilitate a one time rescue and adoption of a mustang and provide a connection to the efforts of Madeleine Pickens and the horse sanctuary she is currently in developing to house up to 30,000 wild horses (With each campaign launch a designated breed and group will be chosen to support). As a special pre-Website Launch, the t-shirts are offered at $ 15.00 each. Men's and Women's are available sizes small through 2x. (When the website is up the price will increase to $ 20.00). Men's tshirts are white, Women's are available in pink or white. A portion of the sale from each shirt will always go directly to equine related charities outside of The Second Race.

To place an order send an email to and an order form will be sent to you. Special Offering: PURCHASE THREE OR MORE SHIRTS AND YOUR SHIPPING IS FREE. Thank you for your support of the horses! Together we can network for their safety!

DISCLAIMER: The funds generated by the sale of the t-shirts and monies donated are at the discretion of The Second Race solely. Thoroughbred Not Throw Away and Mustang Not Main Course are copyrighted, registered brands of The Second Race.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

76 Arabian horses seized from a Texas Ranch Need Your Help

From an edited news clipping.....

August 18, 2009

Police in Texas have seized 76 Arabian horses from a property in Denton County over concerns about their condition.
The animals were seized by Denton County sheriffs on Friday. It is understood the horses are being cared for by staff and volunteers of the North Texas Humane Society (HSNT) and some private contractors.
The society described what they found on the property as gruesome.
"Animal control officers seized 76 emaciated Arabian horses from an equestrian farm there ... HSNT volunteers and staff are now providing them care and completing their veterinarian evaluations."
The society has put out an urgent appeal for hay, specialised feed for putting condition on thin horses, tack and money for vet bills.
The owner of the property, aged in his 60s, is expected to be charged with cruelty to livestock in coming days, an offence punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4000 fine.
Initial assessments of the horses found 20 were extremely malnourished and 40 seriously underfed.

Restoring the animals to full weight will take many months.
Early reports suggest some of the horses were found in stalls thick with dung and urine.
Police were alerted to the condition of the horses after a person who went to inspect the 43-acre property, which is on the market, was concerned at the condition of the animals.
More information:
Here is a television post about the horses.
The North Texas Humane Society website states that they have a wish list for this particular seizure:
Quality Square Bales of Hay
Equine Senior or 14% Sweet Feed
Donations towards the Vet care
Running Gator/4 Wheeler
New or Used Tack
The website has a PayPal function that can be utilized for donations.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Drug Free Rules Could Make it Less Feasible to Have Horses on Auction Lots

A press release from earlier this month indicates that new rules regarding the processing of horse meat for European markets may make the fight against slaughter of our race horses a bit easier. Economically, it may not be feasible for lot owners to keep horses on their lots for 180 in quarantine. Read as the Equine Welfare Alliance explains in detail the new rules:

August 3, 2009
Contacts: John Holland

Vicki Tobin

New EU rules may end slaughter of American Horses
CHICAGO, (EWA) – The European Union (EU) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have announced that the rules on slaughtering horses for human consumption are about to change radically due to concerns regarding contaminated horse meat.
The new EU rules will become effective in April 2010, requiring that either slaughtered animals have complete health records showing they have not received banned substances or a 180 day quarantine for the horses. Claude Boissonnealut, head of the CFIAs red meat programs, has indicated that Canada will likely abide by the 180 day quarantine, as mandated by the EU.
Equine welfare advocates have warned of the contamination of American horse meat for years. Substances banned from food animals range from toxic wormers to phenylbutazone (PBZ), the “aspirin” of the horse world, and even include fertility drugs that can cause miscarriages in women. “PBZ is a known carcinogen and can cause aplastic anemia (bone marrow suppression) in humans”, says Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) member, Dr. Ann Marini, Ph.D., M.D.
But the list of contaminants is not limited to conventional drugs. “Some of the garbage ‘treatments’ that are given to performance horses included iodine-peanut oil injections along the spine, anabolic steroids, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids and even snake venom”, explains Dr. Nicholas Dodman, DVM at Tufts University.
The new rules will mean that horses coming from auctions and other sources in the US will have to be kept drug free on a feedlot for half a year. Producers estimate that feeding horses that long will more than double their cost, making them less competitive with horses from other sources. And that is likely to be only half their problem.
EWA member Christy Sheidy, of Another Chance 4 Horses, routinely rescues slaughter bound horses from Pennsylvania’s New Holland auction. Sheidy warns, “Outbreaks of diseases like strangles and shipping fever will be inevitable in these quarantine feedlots. Left untreated, many horses may die before they can be slaughtered.” Treating the horses would restart their quarantine time.
In recent years, European authorities have cracked down on horse meat producers within the EU, requiring a “passport” system that specifically documents whether a horse has received such substances. Owners must state that their horses are intended for slaughter.
USDA statistics show that in 2008, the US exported 56,731 horses to Mexico and 77,073 horses to Canada for slaughter, resulting in the second highest slaughter total since 1995. Diners abroad have no idea whatsoever what dangerous chemicals they are eating in the American horsemeat that is shipped from plants across our borders.
In an interview with EWA, Henry Skjerven, a former director of the Natural Valley Farms slaughter operation in Saskatchewan, Canada, said: “Unfortunately, North America, US and Canada, were never geared for raising horses for food consumption. The system as it stood when we were killing horses was in no way, shape or form, safe, in my opinion.”
Skjerven went on to say, “We did not know where those horses were coming from, what might be in them or what they were treated with. I was always in fear - I think that it was very valid - that we were going to send something across there [to the EU] and we were simply going to get our doors locked after we had some kind of issue with the product.”
Skjerven’s plant began killing horses in September of 2007 for the Belgium’s Velda Group following the closing of their Cavel slaughter plant in DeKalb, Illinois. Natural Valley’s horse slaughter plant was closed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in January of 2009, for health issues.
Unlike Canada, horses going to Mexico are killed in two types of slaughter plants. The three largest plants export the meat to the EU and will fall under the same new rules. Mexican authorities have yet to announce whether their smaller plants, that provide meat for domestic consumption, will be required to follow the new rules.
“We don’t need to eat horses. Horses are for riding, jumping and doing a whole lot of great things. They’re not food”, concluded Skjerven.

Friday, August 7, 2009

California Retirement Management Account (CARMA)- Ray Paulick Writes About Good Karma

Photo of Frank Alvarado at Golden Gate Fields. Ex-race horses in retirement are helped by the opt-in horsemen's program (CARMA) in California. CARMA will be holding a "Texas Hold'em" Poker Tournament on Thursday, August 13 at the Del Mar Hilton Hotel. Here is a reprint of the Ray Paulick written article from the blog The Paulick Report on CARMA's efforts and director, Madeline Auerbach from 8/7/09

By Ray Paulick The California Horse Racing Board has taken a lot of heat in the last several years for some of their actions, but they deserve a great deal of credit for approving a unique program in December 2007 allowing horse owners to give a small portion of the purse money they earn to the California Retirement Management Account (or CARMA), a fund-raising organization that contributes to retirement, adoption and retraining operations for retired California Thoroughbreds.
It’s doubtful the program would have gotten off the ground were it not for the efforts of Madeline Auerbach, who is passionate about many facets of the Thoroughbred industry, particularly animal welfare issues. “This is an idea whose time had come,” she said
CARMA is unique in that it is an opt-out program, meaning that CARMA will receive three-tenths of one percent from purses unless the owner instructs the racetrack paymaster that he does not want to participate. Some other programs that have raised money for retirement homes have done it on an opt-in basis, meaning you have to try and recruit people to contribute.
As a result, Auerbach said CARMA has roughly 80% participation from California owners. “It’s staggering,” she said.
“A lot of people were pushing to make this opt-in,” said Auerbach. “I knew people wouldn’t participate. I said it’s either opt out or we won’t do it.”
With a $200,000 endowment contribution from the Jan, Mace and Samantha Siegel Foundation, CARMA was off and running in 2008. A fund-raiser made $150,000, and the owner’s contributions could be right around $200,000 annually. CARMA made its first group of grants of $150,000 last year.
Auerbach, who chairs the 501(c)3 organization, said CARMA will be focusing more on programs that place ex-racehorses with new owners or retrain them for second careers.
“We have a great process,” she said. “We look at the financials and fundraising efforts of the organizations applying for grants. We also go look at the facilities.”
CARMA relies on volunteers for many of those duties. Lucinda Mandella, who shares her time working for Thoroughbred Owners of California, is CARMA’s only paid staffer.
The program is making a difference, Auerbach believes. “We make surprise visits to the farms,” she said. “We’re seeing improvements in the condition of the horses. Their teeth are getting floated and they are receiving more veterinary care.”
Auerbach is also riding high on the success of Unusual Heat, currently second in the California sire list by progeny earnings after leading that list in 2008 with record earnings for a California stallion and getting 16 stakes winners.
The son of Nureyev stands at Old English Rancho in Sanger, Calif. He raced for Auerbach and her late husband, James, after being claimed by them for $80,000. They didn’t have much luck with Unusual Heat on the racetrack and tried to sell him for $50,000 after he bowed a tendon. No one was interested so Unusual Heat was bred to some of the Auerbachs’ mares in 1998. He had 11 winners from 15 foals, and has only gotten better since.
Auerbach, however, says she deserves no credit for Unusual Heat’s success. “It was pure luck,” she said.
Auerbach races many of Unusual Heat’s offspring with her longtime trainer Barry Abrams. She recently decided to package a group of six Unusual Heat 2-year-olds in a syndicate that will be sold through Billy Koch’s Little Red Feather Racing, which will manage marketing and client relations. Auerbach and Abrams will make the racing decisions. Fifteen shares are being offered for the group at a price of $90,000 per share. CARMA will get a portion of proceeds from the sale.
“I’m trying to get people excited,” Auerbach said. “I want more people to come to the races and have as much fun as I do.”
Auerbach is spending a lot of time this month preparing for CARMA’s annual fundraiser, a Texas Hold ‘em poker tournament called “Gitty Up, Belly Up & Pony Up.” It is being held at the Del Mar Hilton on Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. The early bird registration fee of $200 ended Aug. 6; the price is $225 at the door. TVG/Betfair is sponsor of the event, which also includes a silent auction plus food and drinks.
For more information on CARMA, click here.

"Thoroughbred Not Throw Away" Campaign Launches

It is with great pleasure that my organization, The Second Race, launches it's first of several message campaigns for racing breeds and other horses. The first is dedicated to our beloved Thoroughbreds called "Thoroughbred Not Throw Away". The logos are designed to deliver a strong message slated to create a dialouge, educate, raise awareness and most importantly funds to support selected organizations and the work that The Second Race was founded upon-- Networking for Results.

Using logo tees, The Second Race will share its philosophy in an intriguing way, that Thoroughbreds have the ability to go to other occupations after their racing careers are over and should not be put in harms way or sent to slaughter. The news is filled with stories of "unwanted" horses, and thoroughbreds find themselves often misunderstood or labeled as unmanageable, The Second Race, understands that this is not the truth. Horses today run the risk of being disposed of in increasing numbers, with the purchase of a "Thoroughbred Not Throw Away" t-shirt you are not only showing your support of this noble bred but will actually facilitate a one time rescue of a Thoroughbred through a partnership with the Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue (SCTR) group. (With each campaign launch a designated breed and group will be chosen to support).

$ 3.00 of each shirt will always go directly to equine related charities outside of The Second Race. For our special launch The Second Race has teamed up with SCTR to literally rescue a thoroughbred off an auction lot to save it's life. Your purchase of a t-shirt will contribute to the purchase price and 6 months of the horses care (quarantine through training and adoption). We will need to have 400 shirts sold to be able to donate $ 1200.00 to SCTR for this mission (*). Won't you purchase a t-shirt today to help with this mission?! SCTR will share the photo of the horse with us, and give us a few updates throughout the 6 months while we await a happy new home for this yet chosen horse.

An order form is available by emailing or calling 626-733-3815.

Pre-website price is $ 15.00 each, and a special offering: PURCHASE THREE OR MORE SHIRTS AND YOUR SHIPPING IS FREE.
If you are on Facebook, please join the Fan Page of The Second Race to see the work we are doing on behalf of the horses.

DISCLAIMER: The funds generated by the sale of the t-shirts and monies donated are at the discretion of The Second Race solely. (*) The $ 1200 is a donation amount, pre-determined by The Second Race and SCTR to allow the rescue of (one) horse and it's care for 6 months which is the average length of time for adoption. The Second Race will not bear any responsibility for the horse that the SCTR purchases and will not have any input into the care or adoption of the horse that the funds are donated for. Anyone that purchases a t-shirt will also not have any input to the purchase, care or adoption of the horse that is chosen. SCTR is a non profit 501 (c) 3 organization, however the purchase of a t-shirt does not count toward a tax deduction to either organization. Future purchases of t-shirts beyond the initial 400 needed for this promotion will not be for SCTR or designated as such. Thoroughbred Not Throw Away is a copyrighted, registered brand of The Second Race.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Redwings Horse Sanctuary Helping Hundreds of Abused Horses

The Second Race is primarily concerned with race horses and ensuring that they have a place to go after their racing careers are over. However, there are several organizations and groups that support horses outside of racing that need to have their due on this blog, and the Redwings Horse Sanctuary is just one of those groups. I have supported them through a sponsorship of a horse that has since passed away and wanted to share their story and good work on behalf of neglected and abused equines.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary began in May 1991 as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization in Carmel, California, with a mission to end the abuse, neglect, and slaughter of horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, and burros through rescue and foster care. In its first year, Redwings rescued 15 equines from abusive or life-threatening situations. Redwings staff then rehabilitated the equines and matched them with carefully-screened adoptive homes. Redwings also addressed educational, financial, and other factors behind equine neglect. The organization initiated several programs including an equine education program for new owners, and an equine medical assistance program for owners with low incomes.

Although these efforts saved many equines, Redwings realized that placing some abused equines in adoptive homes was not a solution. A number of the rescued animals had experienced such serious physical and psychological damage that complete rehabilitation was not possible. In the fall of 1992, Redwings broadened its scope to include permanent shelter for those equines, ensuring them a secure and life-long home at the Sanctuary. In 2000 Redwings moved to a 167-acre ranch in southern Monterey County, California. The entire Redwings family of 90 equines, three part-time and five full-time staff members completed the transition to the new Sanctuary in March 2002.

Today, Redwings rescues several horses from abusive or neglectful situations every year, giving them a permanent home. These horses act as ambassadors, helping Redwings educate the public about the plight facing horses. When practical and needed, Redwings helps horse owners who have difficulty caring for their horses to keep them by giving them educational or restricted financial support. Redwings spreads the message to the public through booths at several events through the year, a bimonthly newsletter, and this Web site.
If you are in the Northern California area on Saturday August 15 please join Redwings at their open house and photo safari. Meet the residents and caring staff at Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

TBA Blog Roll


Search This Blog