‘Army of friends’ retires Frankel horse

Rathor is readied for his free ride to Kentucky, courtesy of JR Hudson Horse Transportation.

Rathor is readied for his free ride to Kentucky, courtesy of JR Hudson Horse Transportation.

A Bobby Frankel-trained Thoroughbred, who beat the great Funny Cide at Keeneland in 2007 and was once favored to trounce Derby winner Giacomo, was assisted this week by an “army” of friends hell-bent on giving their all for a beautiful black horse in need of some luck.

In four short days, several New England horsemen, a good-hearted shipper, and Michael Blowen of Old Friends of Kentucky mustered to assist 14-year-old black gelding Rathor in an effort to retire him well, and fast.

The opinionated OTTB, who retired from racing with 46 starts and $300,000 in earnings after refusing to leave the starting gate in his last race, had recently expressed a similar opinion about continuing on as a riding horse for Elaine Pelino of Rhode Island. The headstrong animal made it clear he no longer wanted to carry a rider, and Pelino immediately reached out to fellow horsemen Laurie Tuozzolo and Matthew Clarke for help.

Rathor
Sire: Machiavellian
Dam: Raisonnable (GB), by Common Grounds (GB)
Foal date: May 13, 2002
Earnings: $331,979, 46 starts
And the phone lines were soon burning up as they reached out to well-known Thoroughbred advocate and trainer Lorita Lindemann, formerly of Suffolk Downs in Boston. She in turn dialed up her longtime friend Michael Blowen, owner and cofounder of Old Friends Kentucky.

And before the week was out, Rathor was led gently onto a horse trailer operated by JR Hudson Horse Transportation, and taken, free of charge, from Rhode Island to Kentucky to begin his new life living among a herd of famous racehorses enjoying permanent retirement.

“It takes an army, it really does,” Lorita Lindemann says of the fast and furious approach they all took to get Rathor permanently retired. “I wasn’t too familiar with the horse when I got a message from Matthew Clarke and Laurie Tuozzolo of Rhode Island. They both reached out to me to see if I could help because it had come to the point that he couldn’t be ridden anymore, and they asked if I could try to get him in with Michael Blowen. By the time I hung up with them and called Michael, he already knew about the horse and said he’d find room.”

Blowen, the president and cofounder of Old Friends, says he accepted without hesitation.

Rathor, a Bobby Frankel horse who beat Funny Cide, arrives at Old Friends this week after an "army" of friends pitched in. Photo courtesy Michael Blowen

Rathor, a Bobby Frankel horse who beat Funny Cide, arrives at Old Friends this week after an “army” of friends pitched in. Photo courtesy Michael Blowen

Though Rathor was never a “great” racehorse of the level of a Silver Charm or Game on Dude, he was once trained by Bobby Frankel, a prominent trainer who left a generous donation to Old Friends upon his death.

Blowen explains: “I have a funny story about Bobby. I didn’t really know him, but I introduced myself to him at Saratoga one day. I told him I had his horse Ruhlmann at my farm, and he said OK, and he walked away. He really blew me off. Two days later I was standing practically in the same spot in Saratoga and I feel this tap on my shoulder, and it was Bobby. He asked me all about Ruhlmann, and what I do and I told him all about the farm. That was the only conversation I ever had with the man.”

But clearly, Frankel never forgot their chat. Years later, following the great trainer’s death in 2009, Old Friends was notified of the farm’s prominent inheritance, Blowen says. “His estate has sent us about $200,000,” he says.

Though Rathor did not rise to the level of being a millionaire racehorse like Ruhlmann, who held a turf record at Santa Anita, he did fight some great wars on the track, says Blowen, noting that he beat Funny Cide and was a favorite against Giacomo at one point in his early career.

Elaine Pelino bids farewell to her OTTB after finding him a new home at Old Friends.

Elaine Pelino bids farewell to her OTTB after finding him a new home at Old Friends.

And up until earlier this week, he was the cherished pet of Elaine Pelino, who says it was a “miracle of God” that so many people pulled together to help her horse find a retirement home. After owning him for five years, Rathor had become increasingly unhappy with being ridden, she explains. And she felt the best thing for him would be life in a retirement herd. “He was ready to be the retired champion that he deserved to be,” she adds.

Rathor pulled up to Old Friends in Kentucky on Tuesday afternoon, driven free of charge by JR Hudson Horse Transportation. Providing the last piece of the puzzle was something shipper Robin Maxwell Hudson says her company was only too happy to do.

“We were raised in the horse industry and have earned our livelihood because of these amazing animals,” she says. “We are happy to be able to give back to them in some way, and Michael Blowen and Lorita Lindemann work hard to “make a way” for so many horses. Seeing that inspires us to do our part.”

When Rathor walked off the trailer, Blowen picked up the lead rope and was amazed at how sweet natured his newest resident is. “He’s so sweet!” he says. “I could lead him around with dental floss if I wanted. All he wants to do is eat carrots and hay—he’s wonderful!”

4-star rider doubles down, buys next T’bred

Leah Lang-Gluscic attempts to grab a selfie with her new Thoroughbred Joker's Hat as the 4-year-old insists on a snuggle!

Leah Lang-Gluscic attempts to grab a selfie with her new Thoroughbred Joker’s Hat as the 4-year-old insists on a snuggle!

Four-star Eventer Leah Lang-Gluscic, who often credits her $750 OTTB AP Prime for “making” her career, has welcomed another Thoroughbred into her sport horse barn.

Last week, Lang-Gluscic announced that the siren song of Thoroughbred Joker’s Hat, plus the “best canter” she’d ever ridden, compelled her to open her checkbook to buy the un-raced 4-year-old from Annie Johnson of Iowa.

“I was not in the market for another horse. In fact, I had done a major downsizing after Rolex and had sold three horses, when I got a Facebook message from Annie,” Lang-Gluscic says. “She said she had no time for the young horse she’d found last year, and since I really liked him, invited me to come take a look.”

Joker’s Hat
Barn name: Boogie
Sire: Hat Trick (JPN)
Dam: Tee Lease, by Lil E. Tee
Foal date: May 18, 2012
After taking a short ride, and discovering the prospect possessed great gaits, including one of the best canters she’d ever experienced, and a Teddy bear personality to boot, Lang-Gluscic welcomed him to her Eventing family.

Joker’s Hat has lightly trained in cross-country, and she plans to take him out June 7 on a schooling day to see how he goes, she says.

Though it’s too early to say what his career path will be, Lang-Gluscic says she’s thrilled to take on the young and affectionate horse who enjoys snuggling up the very moment she goes for a Selfie of the two.

And there is a lot to grin about these days.

Lang-Gluscic was an investment banker before she decided to follow her dream to become a competitive rider, and discovered her four-star mount AP Prime through a CANTER Illinois listing. After meeting the gorgeous bay at a fairgrounds in Martinsville, Ill, she plunked down the cash and has not looked back. (Please see earlier story here: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2013/01/15/a-banker-and-racehorse-take-a-giant-leap/).

After purchasing AP on a gut feeling five years ago, the pair completed their first four-star run at Rolex last month. (Please see that story here: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2016/05/03/750-horse-blazes-a-four-star-future-at-rolex/).

“It was a dream come true,” Lang-Gluscic says after the Rolex run. “It doesn’t feel like I went to Rolex on a $750 horse anymore. I feel like I went to Rolex on a world-class animal.”

As for price on her latest addition, Lang-Gluscic adds, “All I can say is I got a great deal!”

‘Thoroughbreds can take down any breed’

Olympic Eventer Boyd Martin competed OTTB Blackfoot Mystery at Rolex last month. Photo by Amber Heintzberger

Olympic Eventer Boyd Martin competed OTTB Blackfoot Mystery at Rolex last month. © Photo by Amber Heintzberger

Olympic three-day Eventer Boyd Martin says there was no “mystery” to his decision to compete an off-track Thoroughbred against the very best sport horses at Rolex last month.

Simply put, his 11-year-old gelding Blackfoot Mystery was the best horse for the job, even pitted against “specifically bred” international sport horses who drop from their mother’s bellies with the genes to compete at all three phases: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.

Blackfoot Mystery
Sire: Out of Place
Dam: True Mystery, by Proud Truth
Foal date: April 30, 2004
“I think the deciding factor in three-day Eventing is the cross-country. You need a horse to have stamina and endurance, and that’s why I went with a Thoroughbred,” Martin says in a telephone interview with Off TrackThoroughbreds.com. “They’re bred to run fast and for long distances … and even though there are horses are being specifically bred for Eventing, I feel a good Thoroughbred can take out any breed.”

Martin obtained his eye-catching gelding about 10 months ago after learning from a former student that Blackfoot Mystery, the horse he’d admired for his “old style Thoroughbred build” —a big, lanky type with a long-distance quality— was being offered for sale.

“I was teaching his former rider when last year she mentioned she’d sell him. As soon as she said it, I rushed to call all of my owners to try to rally the money together to buy him,” says Martin, who notes that he believes the chestnut Thoroughbred is “the complete package,” a horse who could become a chart-topping performer.

Martin says Blackfoot Mystery is the "complete package" and could go to the highest levels in horse sport. Photo courtesy Boyd Martin

Martin says Blackfoot Mystery is the “complete package” and could go to the highest levels in horse sport. Photo courtesy Boyd Martin

“He’s very sound and very good at the dressage,” says Martin, who notes that finding a horse who has the movement for dressage, the stamina for cross-country, and the aptitude for show jumping is what keeps him looking toward the Thoroughbreds for that rare trifecta possessed by Blackfoot Mystery. So thrilled is he with his 17.2-hand gem that he told Eventing Nation last July that he thought this Thoroughbred might be Olympic level.

“For me, I’m trying to put together a group of top class horses for the Olympics next year. This will be the first off-track Thoroughbred I’ve syndicated since Neville Bardos,” Martin told Eventing Nation. “I don’t think horses of this caliber come up for sale very often, and I feel incredibly lucky to have the ride on him.”

Martin’s decision to campaign an OTTB in the upper echelons of horse sport was music to the ears of longtime OTTB advocate Steuart Pittman.

Pittman founded the Retired Racehorse Project to help prove that OTTBs make excellent sport horses; the same reasons Martin selected an OTTB for competition.

“Most stories of off-track Thoroughbreds at Rolex are about young up-and-coming riders whose careers were launched by the ex-racehorse that nobody else wanted. The top riders usually move on to the purpose-bred horses that their clients bring to them,” Pittman says.

“Boyd Martin could have put a syndicate together to buy any event horse in the world that he believed in. People in the sport know that. When his search brought him to an American Thoroughbred ex-racehorse that sent a great message to young trainers.”

“It means they can go to the track, find a talented horse, train it well, and sell it on for serious money to a top rider.”