Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Do the Right Thing

A recent Blood-Horse ‘Special Report” focused upon unwanted horses and how the industry deals with the horse’s career after racing. The fact is, for a long time the industry DIDN’T deal with it at all. We’ve tried very hard to ensure a quality life for our racers when their careers are done, something I learned from bloodstock agent David Miller when I owned part of my first Minnesota-breds several years ago. Siblings Somerset Sam and Somerset Wish were part of an earlier partnership I was a part of and both were retired with dignity – Sammy to a farm in Minnesota where he has been retrained and is learning to compete again in another discipline, and Wish to a polo farm in Wisconsin under the ownership of former partner Brian Nodolf.

This summer I was faced with the challenge of placing a horse under our care when it became apparent that she did not have a career on the racetrack. It’s one thing when you own a horse of your own and have to answer to no one but yourself. It’s quite another to have to go back to the partners and tell them that their horse will never run a race after several months of carrying her financially.

For the most part, the partners understood. Many had either owned horses before or were familiar enough with the business to know that this happens. Some were not and were less understanding, but the fact remained that One for Zetta (Ballado Chieftan – Zach’s World) was not cut out to be a racehorse and we needed to find her a home.

Her trainer, up and comer Christine Riddle, gave it one helluva go. Zetta would run all day and looked like a racehorse. However, once you turned her around on the track to set down for some speed work, she wanted nothing to do with it. The time came over the summer where we needed to make a decision. In the interest of the partners and in the interest of the horse we decided to retire her.

While the decision to retire her was hard, it turns out it was much easier than selling her. As you can imagine, in this economy selling a horse is next to impossible. We had a few folks that were interested, but for various reasons she didn’t meet their requirements. She is a beautiful mover and is nicely conformed, but buyers were not there. A buyer was my first priority since I have a responsibility to my partners to get them something for their investment but as the meet started to wind down in August, the market was being flooded by Off the Track Thoroughbreds and there was too much, too cheap.

We turned to the talented horse lover Brenda Rick. Brenda had taken in Sam and had Z’s mom, Zach’s World, and loves her to pieces. Like everyone else, Brenda wasn’t in a position to buy Z, but came back with an intriguing offer: in exchange for Z, the group would get either her offspring or a foal of her mom’s. Now by the time that comes, the members may or may not want to be involved, but it was something and, most importantly, I knew that Brenda would love Z and treat her right. Now she is being retrained and, as you can see, is enjoying the work!

Things may not have worked out for One for Zetta, but I hope that by doing the right thing we can create a bit of karma and, besides, sometimes the right thing to do is, quite simply, the right thing to do. Much thanks go out to the partners, Christine, Brenda and David. It was a team effort and all deserve the credit for helping to do right by the horse.

1 comment:

G. Rarick said...

Ted, I just had to make the same decision this week for Little Brazilien. So, so, so frustrating, especially since she's been paid for all year by a group of new owners who were so enthusiastic. As a trainer, it guts me to have been sending them bills all year with no result. The horse is a stunner, and works well at home, but just doesn't want to know it at the track. Luckily, she is sound and beautiful and only three, so I'll keep looking until I find the right home for her.