Friday, June 25, 2010

Loading Up Trusting Hearts

(Photo of Delta Storm, 2009 Breeders Cup Sprint, by John Chun)

This morning while assisting the groom in loading Delta Storm into a small two horse trailer, it occurred to me how trusting these athletes are. They are certainly used to trailering from one racetrack to another, and you hope that they will load easily. Of course, most times they are in large vans with several other horses, not a small trailer that must look oddly like a starting gate space.

This was the third horse in as many days that we have loaded onto a small trailer for their new adventure in life. And it got me to thinking how incredibly trusting race horses are. They go from person to person, not a question as to what will happen next, just assuming someone will take care of them at 4 a.m. or 4 p.m.. I felt wistful and a bit melancholy about the horses that load up not really knowing where they are going to next, but assuming at the end of the ride, someone is there to care for them. It's really all they know.

And I thought too of the tremendous responsibility The Second Race and hundreds of other groups and individuals place upon themselves to protect the horses after their racing days are over. To be sure its a daunting task day in and day out, but as I pinched Delta Storm's leg so he would bend it and I could place it on the step up trailer and help him steady himself as he walked on the trailer, it all seemed worth the trust his heart was putting in me at that moment.

I hope he and the others this week will be happy in their new lives.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Jockey Club Enhances Tattoo Database

The Jockey Club announced last week that it would expand the free services that it provides by adding the sales history of each Thoroughbred registered with them. Providing the additional information should help groups and individuals who attempt to retire or re home horses by providing a tool to aid them in knowing where the horse has been. This is of particular importance, when a horse is found at auction, or purchased years later off the track, and listed on Craig's List for instance.

The sales information is still being added. The Jockey Club reports that their free tattoo identification service has been accessed more than 200,000 times since its inception in April of last year.

The Kentucky Racing Commission has started a pilot program which allows for online monitoring of horse ownership, regardless of the number of owner changes. Kentucky hopes that other states will join the program. Again, making it easier for all to know the history of a horse.

Race horses are tattooed in different forms. Whether Quarter Horse, Arabian, Standardbred or Thoroughbred.

Below is a chart showing the year of birth associated with the letter in the lip tattoo for Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses. If there are two letters in a Standarbred's tattoo, it is the first one that tells the year of birth.

A = 1971
B = 1972
C = 1973
D = 1974
E = 1975
F = 1976
G = 1977
H = 1978
I = 1979
J = 1980
K = 1981
L = 1982
M = 1983
N = 1984
O = 1985
P = 1986
Q = 1987
R = 1988
S = 1989
T = 1990
U = 1991
V = 1992
W = 1993
X = 1994
Y = 1995
Z = 1996
A = 1997
B = 1998
C = 1999
D = 2000
E = 2001
F = 2002
G = 2003
H = 2004
I = 2005
J = 2006
K = 2007
L = 2008

P = 1971
Q = 1972
R = 1973
S = 1974
T = 1975
U = 1976
V = 1977
W = 1978
X = 1979
Y = 1980
Z = 1981
A = 1982
B = 1983
C = 1984
D = 1985
E = 1986
F = 1987
G = 1988
H = 1989
J = 1990
K = 1991
L = 1992
M = 1993
N = 1994
P = 1995
R = 1996
S = 1997
T = 1998
V = 1999
W = 2000
X = 2001
Z = 2002
A = 2003
B = 2004
C = 2005
D = 2006
E = 2007
F = 2008

The Second Race applauds the actions of The Jockey Club. Transparency is the key to helping the horses while on the track, and most certainly off.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Perfect Storm

A "perfect storm" is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically, such was the experience I witnessed at the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) meeting earlier today.

In one corner you had Frank Stronach, the owner of Santa Anita Racetrack and Golden Gate Fields (among many other business interests inside and outside of horse racing) and the other an incredulous Racing Board trying to put a finger in the dike of California Racing. Those in attendance waited hours to hear what Mr. Stronach would say with respect to his plans for Santa Anita, the Oak Tree meet (whether or not it would be held at the aforementioned race track as it has for the past 41 years), and what was his long term business plan. It was as I say "the Perfect storm".

But back to my note, while listening to endless bickering, and the at times non-sensible approach to problems voiced by Mr. Stronach, I wrote on my note pad "Someone Needs to Be a Hero". What I didn't know is 45 minutes later a hero would in fact turn the tide of the meeting. The hero you ask? Mr. Mace Siegel.

Mr. Siegel's voice commands attention. His gravel, deep voice swept through the room and people listened, including Frank Stronach. Somehow with the delivery of reason, Mr. Siegel was able to have the Board "hear" miraculously what none of us did, that somehow he knew that Mr. Stronach could be reasonable. And so after listening to both sides, mediated by Mace Siegel, Frank Stronach recanted his statement and with the approval of the Oak Tree Board, which was in attendance, the race meet would be reinstated for one year (this race meet only). It was in a word, extraordinary.

I don't begin to know all the answers, in fact I have many more questions than answers. I also do not have the history and background in racing that many of the distinguished members in the audience had, however I do know a sinking ship when I see one, and I know a life jacket and an anchor when I see one too. We need both in California.

We need many heroes to save horse racing in California, my hope is that this will be the first step.

Speaking of Storms.....after the CHRB meeting concluded, I went to the backside to see Delta Storm.

Delta Storm is a nine year old gelding, that last year ran fourth in the Breeders Cup Sprint and found himself last week in Stockton entered to run for $ 3,200. His story too was a perfect storm for those that want to find one more reason to not like horse racing. The Second Race, with his former trainer and owner, worked to secure his retirement to CERF (California Equine Retirement Foundation).

Which brings me to what concerns me the most about the future of horse racing in my State and that is the horses. What is to happen to all of them? Where are they to go? How can we support them when or if the industry pulls up stakes and either leaves the business entirely, or abandons racing locally for more profitable jurisdictions? There are literally thousands of horses that need to be accounted for in our actions.

The Second Race hopes that while many more arguments and meetings will transpire in the coming months, we take a moment and think of the responsible retirement of the horses. Without the horses, there isn't racing. And that is a fact that can't be argued inside, or outside of California.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

True Cowboy Magazine Initiates a Rescue Fund for Horses

With the release of the June issue of trueCOWBOYmagazine (an online publication), came a personal message from editor Cate Crismani that caught my attention, the announcement that they are starting an Emergency Horse Rescue Fund. The fund will be monetized by subscription fees to the magazine. The goal of the Emergency Horse Rescue Fund is "saving a horse(s) from feedlots and certain cruel slaughter", said Ms. Crismani.

"Here at trueCOWBOYmagazine we are concerned with the welfare of all horses, mustangs, thoroughbreds and all breeds" The fund would offer assistance to groups who seek help to rescue directly from the feedlots.

You can help trueCowboymagazine's mission by subscribing online at or you can receive using your Iphone as well.

The Second Race applauds the efforts of Cate Crismani, and as she always signs off.....Besos!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Illinois Retired Race Horses Receiving a Helping Hand

photo by John Chun

by Mike Campbell, Jim Miller & David Zenner | June 07, 2010 (From Press Release--Arlington Park Website)

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horseman's Association (ITHA), Arlington Park and Hawthorne Race Course have agreed to cooperate in a program to provide for the care of retired Thoroughbred race horses. The program, which will be operated under the auspices of the ITHA and administered by a designated committee of ITHA board members, began with the start of the Arlington Park meet on April 29.

The long term well being of every Thoroughbred race horse is of paramount importance to everyone involved in the sport of Thoroughbred racing," said ITHA president Mike Campbell. "This program goes a long way to help ensure that every horse that regularly races in Chicago has the opportunity to live out its post-racing years under the best possible circumstances."

"What happens to the racehorse at the conclusion of its racing career should be of concern to all industry participants," said Arlington Park president Roy Arnold. "I am pleased that all the stakeholders in Chicago Thoroughbred racing have stepped up to take part in this important program which gives retired racehorses a chance at a second career."

"I am pleased to see the horsemen and tracks come together regarding horse retirement," added Hawthorne assistant general manager Jim Miller. "Without these magnificent animals, we wouldn't have the great history behind this sport that we do. Now we are able to provide opportunities for these athletes once they leave the racetrack and that is a very gratifying feeling."

The program will be funded by the ITHA as well as both of Chicagoland's Thoroughbred race courses. The ITHA has designated that 0.3% of purses earned at both Arlington and Hawthorne be directed to the fund.

Arlington Park will contribute $25,000 as its 2010 contribution to the program and Hawthorne Race Course will contribute $12,500 for its upcoming fall meet and $12,500 per race meet in 2011.

The ITHA committee will determine the processes under which the program will operate including the determination of eligible horses, selection of retirement facilities and the amount of funding to be provided to each facility while each racetrack will be responsible for the administration and disbursement of the funds collected.

The Second Race applauds any and all efforts on behalf of the retired race horses and will look forward to learning more about the acceptance criteria for race horses in the state of Illinois.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Zenyatta Jersey to Benefit Several Thoroughbred Charities

Will she, Won't she, the debate continues among racing fans if Zenyatta will run actually in the Vanity at Hollywood Park on Sunday, June 13.

What is known is that there will be a jersey available for purchase carrying Zenyatta's name and the blessings of the connections from MVP Champions. A two-time champion, Zenyatta, 6, has won 16 races and $5,924,580. If she wins the Vanity for an unprecedented third time, she would surpass the 16-race winning streaks of Cigar and Citation. A special Jersey signing will be held at Hollywood Park on June 13 and at Del Mar on August 7th to coincide with the probable race dates for Zenyatta.

MVP Champions has recently come on the scene with a series of collectible and/or wearable jerseys to benefit Thoroughbred charities. The first to be offered was Bob Baffert's Hall of Fame jersey which benefited Old Friends in Kentucky.

MVP Champions website states they launch merchandising solutions to benefit charitable causes with remarkable results. Donations are made at point of purchase to benefit designated charities. Our commitment to craftsmanship, design, and technical innovation provide a unique niche in the sports manufacturing market.
We also offer unique promotional opportunities at all of our charitable events. Our nationally publicized fund raisers, product launch promotions, and autograph signings give our supporters national exposure with profitable results.

To view the Jerseys or to order go to

On another note there will be a Zenyatta Bobblehead give-away on the same day at Hollywood Park on June 13th. for details.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

When Good Intentions Go Wrong....

I woke up this morning to this alarming note from Helping Hearts Equine Rescue. Two days ago, I asked our network to help with the Thoroughbred mares with foals at their sides that a NY Breeder was attempting to quickly get rid of. We initially were told that the horses would be shipped the following morning to Camelot in New Jersey (an auction lot). The man that was making the decision to eliminate his stock, had to be off his property in 10 days, and from subsequent conversations had said he had been trying to find homes for the horses since November. Whatever happened to this person to make these decisions, was not at issue. What was at issue, were the horses and trying to re-home them in less than a day, while they were still available and safe.

Well, to my dismay (NOT shock), this is the message greeting me this morning. Read on:

ALL RIGHT FOLKS - The man Donald Jones, who asked for help with his TB mares/foals, is fed up with rescue & says he'll never call a rescue again and he'll never recommend ANY rescue again. So these horses are out of our hands -- God knows where they will wind up.

WHY? BECAUSE PEOPLE, DESPITE OUR REQUESTS, CALLED THIS MAN TO HARRASS HIM AND GIVE HIM GRIEF. They also called authorities to file complaints, claiming that horses weren't cared for. Colleen S saw the horses & facilities-everything was clean & well cared for, horses were clean and well -fed, buckets were scrubbed, etc. etc. . They even called the Tb racing authority and filed unjustified complaints with them.

THIS IS HORRIBLE, THIS IS A SMACK IN THE FACE for all rescues. He's now got a story to tell, a sadly TRUE story that rescues are BAD, that they won't help people/animals in need, that they cause problems. How can you expect people to rely on us or trust us to assist horses in need????

Never mind the fact that we cannot now help these horses. Where-ever they wind up ~~~ auctions, feed lots, slaughter, it will be directly due to the irresponsible actions and the "High and Mighty Attitudes" of some individuals. THAT is NOT rescue! THAT is just causing trouble and grief, plain and simple.


The following was my exact reply to this post:

This is exactly why as of today I will NO LONGER be involved with these situations. I am TIRED of the same OUTCOME over and over and over again! It's like a bunch of religious zealots shouting "witch" (yes, that has happened to me this week), and I am OVER it!!
When I created The Second Race, it was to work directly with race tracks, not auction lots and all the craziness that goes around it. This is no different.
The efforts were made, genuine conversations were handled with this man, and everyone knew the game plan (in the beginning), and I know headway was made. THEN someone thinks they have a better plan and like a ROGUE go out on their own and mess it up. I am done, done, done!
Now what, those who wanted the horses will have to pay the BROKERS ridiculous sums of money to bail out these horses, when they were FREE!!!!!!!!!! DONE! and yes, SHAME ON WHOEVER DID THIS!

So my conclusion.....the Internet works, and it doesn't. It's only as good as the people operating the keyboards. When will people who have no idea how a rescue works learn? (and in this case it WASN'T a rescue--YET), it was a person who genuinely was working with STRANGERS to solve his IMMEDIATE problem. I have to be honest I KNEW as soon as I saw that the person had given their phone number, there was going to be trouble and I wish I had said something sooner.

If we are to help the horses, then we need to respect those that are trying to do the right thing. We need to respect the group or individuals at the helm in these instances and their requests, and we need to make educated decisions that are in the best interest of all involved.

The Second Race was created to work directly with the race tracks, et al. But, with the Internet and social networking as our main source of re-homing horses; we have to respond when appropriate to other horses and needs. I know our network has made a difference, we have galvanized many times with a positive outcome, and we will continue to do so. But a line has to be drawn, to protect the integrity of many, including The Second Race. If "rescues" go bad over and over again, those that work hard to save horses or re-home them will ultimately lose heart and turn away and that would be the saddest outcome of all.

TBA Blog Roll


Search This Blog