Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Remembering Bobby Frankel on his 72nd Birthday

In 1986, I was a na├»ve, horse-crazy 18-year-old living in Manhattan focused on a Wall Street career.  I spent Monday through Friday at Eisenberg & Sons learning to trade options and understand things like arbitrage. The weekends were reserved for my true loves – Aqueduct, Belmont, and the Meadowlands, the trio enveloped my every upright moment. On Saturday and Sunday, I traded stock charts for RagozinSheets.

This was also the year I put together my first racing partnership. The horse, a stunning gray son of Graustark, the trainer Bobby Frankel.

Jerry Castle, father of my dear friend Willy, recommended Bobby. Mr. Castle, was a leading owner in the 1970s with the notorious Buddy Jacobson, and later Jose Martin.  Willy, now goes by William. He is the agent for jockey David Cohen. Bobby Frankel had apprenticed with Jacobsen [father of David Jacobson].  Castle knew Frankel well.

Sounded good to me, but, seriously -- how is a California-based trainer going to train horses in New York?  Why Anthony Dutrow of course! Young Tony, brother to another notorious racing figure [Richard Dutrow], earned Frankel’s confidence and headed-up the New York division. My beautiful grey boy was front and center in the Frankel shedrow at Belmont Park [in my mind J]. Really, the star of the time was Garthorn, aka “the Believe It colt”.

In May [1986], Garthorn was prepping for the prestigious Met Mile at Belmont. Bobby was en route from California with owners Jerry and Ann Moss.  I was so excited at the thought of meeting Bobby Frankel in person. 

Tony introduced me to Bobby. Bobby was gracious and reserved, later I learned what a good mood he was in – lucky for me! I tracked Bobby to learn as much as I could during his weekend on the east coast. 

It was an unforgettable experience….

Garthorn won the Met Mile. Bobby, Jerry, and Ann invited me to join them in the NYRA Trustee’s room to celebrate with champagne and delectable hors d’ouevres . I didn’t know such a room existed at NYRA – wow, it was an eye opener. The celebration continued into Manhattan…limos, penthouses, fine-dining and drinks…until the wee hours of the morning.

Bobby was a perfect gentleman.  Although, it didn’t surprise me to learn years later, he was quite the ladies man. He was endearing and charming; he spent most of his time speaking about his daughter Bethenny.

Ann was so sweet and so gorgeous, I believe she was a model before becoming Mrs. Moss. And Jerry, I learned was the 'M' of A & M Records. Amazingly, we had a friend in common, New York music man Morris Levy. Zenyatta couldn’t have happened to nicer people.

It is funny how certain conversations rattle about in the mind for decades. Truly, it is like yesterday I remember Bobby sitting at the dinner table bragging on his daughter. She was 15 at the time. We were three years apart. It wasn't the age though, it was the name.  Bethany Blaisdell was one of my very best friends in grade school, she was the only Bethany I knew.

When I first saw Bethenny Frankel, I saw Bobby; her beautiful smile and kind eyes are a gift from her father.

Today [09.July.2013] is Bobby Frankel's 72nd Birthday. Though he is not here physically, I will raise toast tonight and remember the good time he showed me in the Big Apple. 

In 2004, I officially interviewed Bobby for Unbridled TV. He candidly spoke about his rise to success, love of horses, and how he'd like to be remembered.

I hope this post gives you pause to take a moment today to recall a win, a memory, good times, and happy trails with Bobby Frankel -- he was a good man, and he left us too soon.... Susan.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Remembering Stalwart Member

Susan Kayne and Stalwart Member
Stalwart Member
February 12, 1993 – March 30, 2013
While taping the first season [2003] of Unbridled at Saratoga Race Course, I met owner Sandy Goldfarb in the stable yard of trainer Steve Klesaris through my friend Willy Castle. From 2001 through 2003, Goldfarb was the leading owner by wins in New York. Handsome, rich, and on top of the game … Sandy had the reputation of rock star on the NYRA circuit. 

I sat in the shedrow reading a narrative when a big black stretch limousine emerged from the morning fog. Slowly it negotiated backstretch bumps and holes until settling onto an almost level patch of dew-covered grass alongside the old track rail. Parroting Ed McMahon, Castle hollered, “Heeeeeere’s Sandy!” My heart raced, and my hands got clammy; I really wanted Sandy on the show. His status and big name could drive viewership skyward. I was elated when he agreed. He gave a great interview for Unbridled, and we have since developed a long-standing friendship. The Sandy I have come to know is kind and generous, and he sure is nice eye-candy!

In early December 2003, Willy gave me a heads-up that Sandy was planning to retire his beloved racehorse Stalwart Member. Willy asked, “Would you be interested in taking him? Sandy really wants to do what is right for this horse.”

Up until this particular call, my answer had always been an instant “YES!” I always had a farm with an open stall and soft spot for thoroughbreds. I had retired, retrained, and re-homed dozens of racehorses by way of calls from Castle. His call was business as usual, but my answer was not. At the time, I was in-between farms, recently divorced, and had my own horses boarded out. I was at my monthly limit, actually over it -- way over it. It was a tough time.

I explained my circumstances and asked Willy to give me a day or two to figure something out. He quipped, as only a close friend can, “Well, you better think fast. Sandy is going to announce this to the press.”

Sandy wanted a good home for his horse, and I wanted to help. I could not afford to board another horse so I pitched Sandy on the idea of putting up the next six months board at a local stable, and I would assure a safe transition for Stalwart Member.  I made the case that $500 a month at a farm is far less than $5000 a month at the track, and it was the least he could do for a horse that had given him so much. It was a win-win-win. Sandy put his money up and Stalwart’s off-the-track journey began.

Stalwart in the news…

On December 13, 2003, The New York Post reported: 

Leading thoroughbred owner Sanford Goldfarb announced in the paddock before the Big A’s first race, “Win or lose, this is the final start for Stalwart Member, as a ten-year-old he deserves an easier life, he is sound and fit and that is how every horse should exit his or her racing career.” Goldfarb fondly recounted, “For three years Stalwart Member has been like a member of our family, he has brought us thrilling races and many victories.” He has a lot of life in him, and we look forward to following his progress with Susan Kayne as he acclimates to life outside the track.”

On December 21, 2003, The Daily Racing Form headlined:

Stalwart member retired at age 10

Writer Karen M. Johnson, daughter of the late great trainer P.G. Johnson, recounted Stalwart’s popularity on the New York circuit. Goldfarb reiterated the importance of retiring Stalwart while he is physically sound, “He is such a special horse: you can’t measure his heart, he always wanted to win. When he saw a hole he would go for it. He gave his life to the game, and he deserves this retirement.”

I broke the news upstate on Capital OTB (Time Warner Albany Channel 12) on Sunday morning while co-hosting the day’s racing analysis with well-known handicapper Anthony Mormino. Racing fans sent dozens of emails wishing Stalwart green pastures and happy days ahead.

Moving a racehorse from a near-decade of life in a stall to the expanse of a farm is culture shock, especially for a track-savvy boy like Stalwart. He was accustomed to a very regimented routine; aside from racing, his outings were limited to morning gallops.

Meeting Stalwart…

On Tuesday, December 16, 2003, Brookledge Horse Transport delivered Stalwart to his new home at Double B Farm in Clifton Park in a huge, luxurious, eighteen-wheeler air-ride tractor trailer! He must have thought he was headed to Saratoga – but it was winter! Unloading in the brisk air, Stalwart’s nostril’s flared. He snorted and pranced, tap dancing around me with his head held high like a giraffe. His deep brown eagle eyes surveyed the lay of the land. He was oblivious to the chain over his nose and hard to keep in hand. Swiftly and gingerly, I guided him into his new stall. It was a relief to secure him in a safe space.

Quizzically he wiggled his nose into the shavings. Accustomed to straw, he investigated this strange matter. He’d dig, sniff, and then curl his lip in the air. Finally, he rolled. Covered with pieces of white pine he beckoned for the attention of his new neighbors by twisting and shaking his head. The big bay warmblood across the aisle momentarily glanced in his direction, and the old, fat, grey pony peaked though a crack in the wall while continuing to feast on his pile of hay.

A fellow rider passed by with, “Awwww, look at him. He is so sweet; I can’t believe he came from the track.” On her way back she reached through the stall bars and scratched his forehead.

Stalwart was sweet…most of the time.  

Feeding Stalwart the Race Horse

The first time I fed Stalwart, he nearly knocked me over as he tried to bury his face in the metal grain scoop. His warm breath felt good, but his overactive mandibles sent grain flying everywhere. Pushing out his snout, I made my way to his big feed tub in the corner. I poured in the hot bran mash first and topped it with the remaining grain in the metal scoop. As fast as I put food into the tub, he pushed it out! Stalwart needed a real racetrack-style grain dish, the Dan’s or Thyben’s type with a “feed saver” ring. Within minutes, more grain lay on the floor than in the tub. He had had a long day filled with big changes. I talked to him while stroking his rock hard neck; it was the most densely muscled neck I had ever touched.

“There you go boy,” I whispered. Emotion swelled as I thought about his journey, all that he had seen, and all of the different stables he had been through. No doubt he dealt with a lot of different people throughout his career – each seeking to get something for himself via his racing ability. Most thoroughbreds are only worth what they can earn at a given time. Stalwart was lucky to have had Sandy.

Leaving the stall, I turned around for another look at this amazing horse. I was greeted by his mouthful of amazing ten-year-old teeth in my face --- YIKES! Was I startled! This was not the sweet boy I just left noshing on hot bran mash! My compassion turned to self-preservation. He reinforced his message with ears pinned back. I changed out his dish and fed him through the door in the wall for the next few months!

In the months to follow, scary-monster-horse-to-feed became satiated. Stalwart settled down and let down. Savage feed time behavior turned to solace as Equine Senior satisfied his ravenous appetite. His body began transitioning from lean and sinewy to fat and shiny. Quite frankly, I was shocked at how quickly he was transforming.


His initial turn-out was in the inside. It was December, it was cold, and he hadn’t been turned loose in nine years. He seemed stunned at first. He’d stand and buck in place while adding a front leg strike and neck twist. Once he realized he really was free of a lead shank, he took off and frolicked in every inch of the indoor arena as if it were his own personal sand box.

By March [2004], Stalwart was ready to be turned out in the fresh air. First into a small pen, and then within days he graduated to larger spaces. Eventually he went into a big paddock with friends. For such a fierce competitor on the track, he was quite affable with pasture mates.

He loved his outdoor turn-out…I did not. You see, Stalwart was a mudder on the track. He searched for and wallowed in anything resembling mud. If one puddle could be found in the paddock, he’d dig it into a personal pond. Somewhere in the archives I have a picture of him with only his two eyes recognizable, the rest of him covered in a coating of dry, caked mud. I spent hours cleaning up the boy, only to have him do it again. His antics sent me straight to Rider’s Crossing for a Rhino-tough turn-out blanket by Horseware Ireland. It helped a little. Without fail, any part of Stalwart left uncovered was thick with earth.

Riding Stalwart

Stalwart was surprisingly easy-going to ride considering his lengthy career on the racetrack. The first time, and every subsequent time I sat on him, he was steady. He never felt like he was going to seize the bit and run-off. The first few weeks under saddle he was stiff and muscle sore like most OTTBs, but he was not lame. His legs puffed as anti-inflammatories and racetrack drugs left his system. Within a few days of his arrival, I started him on a course of joint supplements, Thia-Cal [Finish Line], SOURCE, and Guinness [the beer!]. His body responded, and he loosened up and became quite flexible. By March [2004], he was like a rubber band, stretching, and fluid. It was time to find Stalwart a new home.  

I had grown quite fond of Stalwart; he had a big heart under his wily exterior.

On April 4, 2004, Stalwart was adopted by Heather Brandt, a young woman with a passion for thoroughbreds. She had the background and skill set to develop Stalwart’s potential as a riding horse. Time Warner News Channel 9 covered Stalwart’s move to Brandt’s Flint Wood Farm in Ballston Lake, NY. There again he made new equine friends with several other horses under Brandt’s care. Brandt aptly referred to Stalwart as “Second Chance.” With consistent work Heather helped “Chance” to understand the nuances of English riding. She improved every aspect of his work under saddle and regularly reported on his progress. “He has shown a remarkable difference and has adjusted well to his new surroundings, and he is working well on both canter leads.”  

Heather kept me abreast of Chance’s progress. Photos showed a filled out, happy, and relaxed horse. My heart melted.

Stalwart fast became a favorite again, this time with riding fans. Heather’s students loved the horse they knew as “Chance.” In many instances he was their only chance to ride. She refined Stalwart into a safe and solid teacher. He loved his job. As Heather’s reputation grew, so did the waiting list of retiring thoroughbreds looking for a stall in her barn. Stalwart would need to move to make space for another thoroughbred in need.

It was bittersweet when Heather made arrangements for Stalwart to move to JHA Riding Academy, a reputable local lesson and show stable. His steady stride gave many JHA kids’ confidence in the saddle. He spent one year in the JHA lesson program.

Stalwart was purchased privately from JHA. Heather and I tracked and followed his every move; good reports indicated he was happy and healthy. Then, a sudden hiatus in communication alarmed us. Something was wrong.

It turned out that Stalwart changed hands a few times. Heather provided leads, I investigated. After many calls and emails I learned in September 2006, that Stalwart was with Dr. Amy French, a veterinarian from Johnstown, NY. On the day I made contact with Dr. French, I learned that she was shipping Stalwart to a livestock auction at JP Norths, a place I have known to be frequented by kill buyers over the years.

I was angry and horrified. Keeping my cool and making a deal and get Stalwart home safe was the only option. Since Stalwart moved to Heather in April 2004, I now had a farm, and it was within ten miles of the auction. I arranged to pay for Stalwart’s shipping and then some. I did not know any of the people with whom I was dealing, and each had a conflicting story. How he ended up with Dr. French is unclear to this day. Finding him in the nick of time was nothing short of a miracle.

The sketchy details of Stalwart’s whereabouts over the past few months left me uneasy as to whether Stalwart would actually be shipped to me or not. Then, I began to wonder if the horse being shipped was really going to be Stalwart. The confluence of events leading to Stalwart's return troubled me for the next several hours. I hoped for the best.

Late in the afternoon a shoddy stock trailer sped into the driveway. Stalwart’s white star and stripe were visible between the rusted slats. Tied in the rear, he was easy to get to. The rear door creaked open and there stood a skeleton of the horse I knew. Urine-soaked manure squished under my boots. The slippery footing made it difficult for Stalwart to maneuver. His weary legs trembled as he inched his way out. Helpless eyes of other innocents headed to JPs glanced out in angst. I was filled with despair; I wished each was unloading with Stalwart. Nothing good awaited them at JPs. My heart sank. 

Stalwart looked dreadful; he was dispirited and emaciated. His hip bones protruded like a clothes hanger, his skin stuck together, his mane and tail sunburned, and his heels horribly under-run. I was sick at the sight before me; I could not believe he had been in the hands of a veterinarian for the past few months. He looked like he hadn't eaten in six months.

I have always maintained an open return policy for horses I have re-homed.  This is in writing and transferred on to successive owners. Horses are very expensive to maintain. Sometimes circumstances change and people cannot afford the upkeep. It happens, but the horse(s) need not suffer. Over the years a small percentage of horses I have re-homed have returned. A few phone calls and networking online averts a potential crisis. This was the first re-homing that went horribly wrong.  It reminded of a story I just read about on Larry Ensor’s site. Thankfully, he, like me, was able to intervene.

It was time to forgive, give thanks he was alive and not slaughtered, and begin to revitalize this very lucky horse. Mortified, I called Sandy, and explained what had happened. Sandy, unfazed  stepped up and contributed funds to help Stalwart  again.

Goldfarb had claimed Stalwart Member for $35,000 as a seven-year-old in 2000 and won several races and graded stakes with him on the New York circuit including the Grade III Sports Page Handicap November 2001. Stalwart also has the dubious honor of having been the very first stakes winner for now ten-year suspended trainer Richard Dutrow.  

Competitive to the core, Stalwart Member scored a number of stakes wins in addition to twice winning the Sports Page [1997, 2000]. To this day he is on record for the fastest win the Hollie Hughes Handicap. In 1997, he topped the field and equaled the track record at Aqueduct for six furlongs in 1:08.64. Later that same year, he headlined the New York Times Sports section when he won the MacArthur under 123 pounds on opening day at Belmont, and closed out the year winning the Gravesend Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct.  Overall, he won seven stakes and placed in six other stakes, including a runner-up finish to Langfuhr in the 1997 Carter Handicap (G1). Bred by the late Edwin Wachtel, Stalwart retired with eighteen wins in sixty-four career starts and earnings of $783,807 as one of New York State’s top New York-bred earners.

Sick and tired of seeing an unbelievable number of horses breaking down, Sandy chose to send his warrior out with dignity: “He loves his job, but we knew it was time for a career change.” Wouldn't it be nice if all owners followed this example?

By late fall 2006, Stalwart regained his strength and began adding weight to his big bony frame. Lots of Equine Senior, hay, and supplements expedited his safe recovery. He was enjoying life, and he had a new fan club in my nieces and nephews, Lizzie, Kayla, and Matthew, and Sheila Watts, a delightful young girl who took lessons at our farm.

In early 2008, I began seeking a forever home for Stalwart. I interviewed many prospective adopters. The majority were unsuited to look after a thoroughbred. Then came an enthusiastic brunette connected to a good solid stable. She was looking for a horse of her own to get back into riding. I was shocked when Erin Looman said, “Yes, I will take him.” Many in her position would have opted for an older quiet, non-thoroughbred.  Stalwart hit the lottery.

For the next five years, Erin gave the “Stally” the best years of his life. She kept him in fine style at the beautifully maintained and managed Hillcroft Stables where together they learned, loved, and struggled. Stally was Erin’s prince, she went through hell and high water to keep Stally in the best of care at all times; rough patches that would have caused others to give up did not deter Erin. Honest to core, Erin kept in touch and frequently sent photos and updates on Stally. .

In late 2012, Erin moved Stally to yet another local palace, the newly revitalized Windrunner Stables. Nearing twenty, Stally began to experience aches and pains. His limbs grew stiff as ringbone advanced and spavins set-in. Erin updated me on veterinary findings, and I knew for a horse with the heart of Stally, standing around was not an option. He lived to run. Every fiber of his being embodied his magnificent stride.

On April 3, 2013, I received a note from Erin, “On Sat., 3/30/13, @ 3:00, my boy Stally crossed the bridge to greener pastures.” Her message was short. I understood the raw emotion and inability to speak of putting a friend to sleep -- it is excruciating beyond words.

Just days before I learned of the passing of Stally’s mother, Ms. Stalwart, at Our Mims Retirement Haven on January 28 due to complications of old age. She was twenty-nine.

Later, Erin’s facebook post spoke to each of us who has loved a horse: “I would like to thank everyone for their kinds words. Many made me smile through my tears. Stally for some was a machine, a money maker, to me he was a living, breathing creature who had more heart than some humans I know. He was my boy and will be missed every day.”

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Susan Kayne, The Horse’s Advocate

Thank you Rob Rubsam & About Town!

Unbridled Racing was another. Created as a means of providing investments in thoroughbred horses to those who would normally be priced out of such things, it also allowed Kayne to keep a hand in the horses she bred, guaranteeing their post-racing careers in showing. Originally based out of Greene County, the operation was moved to the Clermont Farm in Tivoli several years ago, so as to use its indoor track and birthing stalls, as well as to take advantage of its proximity to the Belmont and Saratoga racetracks.
But Unbridled Racing recently ended as a commercial entity. When I conducted this interview in November, Kayne said that she was only fulfilling a few more obligations before closing her doors, and several months later the website is down, and UR’s official Facebook page lists it as a "former partnership," though she has started a blog meant to discuss issues with horse racing. Which leads to the strongest, and most recent, of Kayne’s passions: animal activism. In her view, drug culture on racetracks, particularly in New York, has gotten out of hand, and she can’t contribute to a system like that by breeding horses into it. READ MORE...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dutrow Suspension Reveals Hypocrisy of NYSRWB

Rick Dutrow’s father was a racing hero. About 15 years ago, I was thrilled to own a broodmare out of a half sister to Dutrow’s claimer turned Grade One millionaire KING’S SWAN.

In 1987, I had horses with Bobby Frankel in New York. At the time, Rick’s older brother Anthony was Frankel’s assistant. I lived in Manhattan, so I spent five mornings a week at Belmont Park, not only to see my horses, but to explore the wicked crush I had on Tony.

I never really got to know Rick except through brief social encounters, usually on a late-summer night in Saratoga. I have stayed current on his exploits through the press.

John Sabini’s hubristic quote in the New York Times compelled me to write this post. John said, “the court’s action confirms that cheaters who repeatedly violate the rules have no place in New York racing.”  Really?! One look through the NYSRWB Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database and Racing and Wagering Board Ruling Database shows dozens of trainers with multiple violations racing every day.

The simple bureaucratic fact is that NYSRWB investigators pick and choose who to go after. Obnoxious and arrogant personalities are easy prey, whether guilty or innocent, their big mouths help investigators.

When it comes to enforcing its rules, the NYSRWB acts as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury. How does the same agency perform all four roles?

Dutrow, and his alter-ego Lou Pena in harness racing, are long time rule breakers. Had they each been served with bigger fines and longer suspensions for previous offenses I probably wouldn’t be writing this post. So, why didn’t NYSRWB deal with this matter more effectively years ago? Why weren’t both charged criminally under the anti-cruelty statute? The offenses fit the statute. And, why aren’t all trainers investigated with the same vigor NYSRWB utilized to nail Dutrow and Pena?

I do not condone the abuses of Dutrow or Pena.Their actions are unconscionable. Drugging an innocent creature for financial gain is SICK, it is an ill of the human condition, a stain upon what is left of the sport of horse racing and an insult to any genuine horse lover.

There will never be integrity in racing until the State, along with every industry participant, comes to recognize the well-being of each individual horse as a precious life and partner from which its own power and authority are derived, and treats each with respect and dignity.

That being said, I find the selective sanctioning by the NYSRWB just as offensive, and that is why I find Sabini’s statement so disingenuous.

Dutrow never claimed innocence in the violations against him, instead, his defense has claimed that the process was biased against him and there were significant conflicts of interest.  

Dutrow is suspended is because an investigator chose to focus his time and energy on Dutrow. It was common knowledge among insiders that Dutrow “juiced” -- and so it is with many of the leading trainers. Cheats are light-years ahead of drug tests, and Lasix provides the perfect cover for oxygenating, pain-killing concoctions.

In February of 2012, I presented the NYSRWB with original signed treatment records by a long-standing, well-respected equine practitioner on the NYRA circuit confirming illegal drugging. Documents clearly show nine instances of a trainer violating 4043.2 (e, g) (7) which could add up to $225,000 in fines and untold days banned from the shedrow.

The trainer has a history of drug overages, so the infractions are not out of character, the offense is ILLEGAL DRUGGING, equal to the wrongdoing of Dutrow and Pena. The trainer in question is a friend of the NYSRWB investigator assigned to the matter -- so is it any wonder the investigator refuses to sanction his friend?!

This is an example of the type of cronyism crippling New York racing from ever eradicating deceit in the Sport of Kings. 

In February [2013], the NYSRWB merges with the NYS Lottery under the Gaming Commission. What then my friends? Who will look after the horses? I’d value your thoughts, please share your comments.

Posted by Susan Kayne

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Breeder's Cup, Ravishly, Deborah Jones

Exceller & Willie Shoemaker
Today is the biggest Day in Horse Racing..The 29th Breeders Cup at Santa Anita Park in California…it is running as I write.

Broadcast around the world, millions of viewers tune in to watch the worlds top thoroughbreds vie for million dollar prizes.

I too am tuned in, but not with anywhere near the naivety or enthusiasm  I once had for horse racing ...

Watching the Kentucky Derby -- the first leg of the triple crown -- 41 years ago ... I fell head over heels in love with the sport of kings as I watched a little brown horse from South America charge to victory in the 1971 Run For The Roses.


Some years later I had the joy of meeting the my TV idol  Canonero II face-to-face at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, KY. During that visit I also met John Gaines, the visionary behind the Breeders’ Cup we see today.

My family owned shares in stallions at Gainesway including my personal favorite, the late great EXCELLER -- a victor in major stakes over the Santa Anita Course with Willie Shoemaker in the irons. Later in his life a casualty of slaughter.

Repeat visits to Gainesway and the surrounding iconic farms solidified my resolve to spend my life with thoroughbreds. I thought the career of a trainer or veterinarian to be noble pursuits….both front line caregivers..to the most beautiful creature on earth. 

Seeing thoroughbreds living at glorious bluegrass farms impressed me as to how well horses were treated…, and why wouldn't they be? Look at the amazing lifestyle they afforded their owners. I was young, naive, and quite impressionable.

What I didn't know  then… I know now. 

Never in my worst nightmare did I imagine that which I have recently learned people will do to horses. 

In my own zeal to share the "good" about racing – I brought you interviews with top racing people that I really, really believed had the best interest of their horses at heart. In the years since then I have learned, first hand, quite the opposite….and for that my friends, I apologize.

I believe adults should hold themselves accountable for failure.

Owners and trainers willing to sacrifice horse care for the sake of a win, or ship a horse out-of-state to an unknown destiny have contributed to an overwhelming problem in the racing world….the grotesque and inhumane butchering of America’s  thoroughbreds.

Many related in pedigree to the magnificent horses we see gracing our TVs today at the Breeder's Cup.

Whether dying on the track or in a slaughterhouse, the fact of the matter is -- the majority of American thoroughbreds are sent away on long torturous trips over US highways to Mexico and Canada. Terrified in a foreign land their skull is crudely fractured and their sinewy bodies hung  upside down by a hind leg to bleed out. According to USDA inspectors, some are still alive while being cut apart.

Rendering and processing it is not – it is an excruciating, horrific death. The journey begins in the breeding shed and ends at an auction -- ALL on American soil.

In my opinion .. if not acknowledged, addressed and  rectified with real solutions --- this will be the end of horse racing… and so it should be.

Overbreeding is the genesis of this train-wreck, and excessive drugging at the racetrack piles on even more innocent victims. Recently among them, RAVISHLY, a resident NY mare, owned throughout her career by IEAH Stable who purchased her for $75,000 as a two-year-old.

RAVISHLY did all that was asked of her on the racetrack and in the breeding shed. Upon retirement from the IEAH broodmare band, she became a "giveaway". No protection, no PENSION, no follow-up, and compounding the offense .... no names.

RAVISHLY was butchered the morning after she sold for $50 to a meat packing plant through an auction in Unadilla, NY. The same NY promoting and incentivizing more breeding without an effective and safe retirement plan for its equine participants.

RAVISHLY produced five foals for her owner IEAH. As the breeder, they may collect state-bred awards up to 30% of prizes earned by each offspring. WHAT A NICE RETIREMENT FUND THIS COULD HAVE PROVIDED FOR RAVISHLY.

California-based Deborah Jones revealed the plight of RAVISHLY on her facebook page, "emaciated, and injured from barbed wire, Ravishly was once again wearing a hip tag but this time there was no announcement promoting her bloodlines, progeny, race earnings not even her name....known ONLY as hip # 0715".

Deborah Jones is a first-responder on the front lines in kill pens. She saves dispirited and forgotten horses from the ultimate betrayal. Each of whom were once the apple of someone's eye. Now Deborah is their only hope.

Journalist Joe Drape featured the work of Deborah Jones in Friday's edition of the New York Times. She is a hero to every horse on death row and to those who do truly love thoroughbreds.  

So, on racing's biggest day, as winners celebrate their new found millions and championship honors, I mourn for the hundreds-of-thousands left in their wake. 

May there be a heaven for horses, Susan.

Related Links:

Exceller's Story: http://www.excellerfund.org/

Ravishly: http://www.ieah.com/cgi-bin/photo_gallery2.cgi?gallery=1000006

Ravishly and her foals at Saratoga Glen Farm: http://www.saratogaglenfarm.com/Ravishly.htm

NY Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/sports/rescuing-racehorses-from-slaughter-as-industry-bides-its-time.html?pagewanted=all