TRF takes 6 hungry, abandoned horses into herd

Z Camelot is among six horses accepted into the TRF Blackburn facility on Tuesday.

Z Camelot is among six horses accepted into the TRF Blackburn facility on Tuesday.

Silver Cliff and Z Camelot, two Thoroughbreds discovered in a herd of abandoned horses linked to a Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer, were officially released yesterday to the safety of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF).

Following a decision by Mercer County Kentucky officials, which declared a herd of 43 horses to be legally “abandoned” and available to rescue workers, the TRF arrived and took the two Thoroughbreds, as well as other tattooed, unidentified horses and an unweaned yearling.

Diana Pikulski, TRF director of external affairs, says the two OTTBs were picked up and delivered safely to the TRF’s Blackburn facility in Kentucky at around noon yesterday.

Silver Cliff, a 2002 gelding by Silver Charm, and Z Camelot, who was owned by Triple Crown winning Zayat Stables, were to receive care from inmates at the Blackburn Correctional Complex, where the TRF has a facility. “The inmates will be 100 percent devoted to nursing them back to health,” Pikulski says.

Silver Cliff, gray, and Z Camelot check out a mare and foal after all safely arriving at the TRF.

Silver Cliff, gray, and Z Camelot check out a mare and foal after all safely arriving at the TRF.

Silver Cliff, who was originally retired to TRF Blackburn after his racing career ended in 2006, according to the Paulick Report, was welcomed back with gratitude and relief.

“We’re just really thankful that the story with the Paulick Report seemed to get the facts out there so that” the abandoned horses could be removed from the property, says Pikulski. “Time will tell, and we’ll see how everybody does. The horses will live in a very secure spot and veterinarians from Rood & Riddle will be very involved with their care.”

So far, all horses taken into the TRF herd at Blackburn are doing very well, says TRF herd manager Sara Davenport. Identities of the horses have not yet been determined. However, all have lip tattoos, she notes.

“Aside from being hungry, they’re really friendly, alert, and interested in the world around them,” Davenport says. “When we walk out into the fields to visit them, they pick their heads up and allow us to pet them.”

A hungry mare grazes with her foal. All horses had lip tattoos and will be identified shortly.

A hungry mare grazes with her foal. All horses had lip tattoos and will be identified shortly.

And when a mare and (yearling) from the same herd were delivered to an adjacent paddock later in the day, Silver Cliff gave up his grazing to go pay a visit, she adds. “He hasn’t eaten anything in the last half hour because he’s so infatuated with the mare and her baby. And Z Camelot is just kind of following Silver Cliff around. They’re both aware and still very involved in everything going on around them.”

Though both horses show signs of malnutrition, and Z Camelot’s coat has a few patchy spots where the hair has fallen out, neither show signs of infection, illness or lameness, Davenport adds. “They seem to be in good spirits. They’re not limping. They don’t have snotty noses or runny eyes, and they seem to be fairly perky,” she says.

Davenport confirms that the TRF welcomed a total of six, with the possibility of taking in another mare and foal currently still living at the farm on Martin Lane in Kentucky, which has been at the center of controversy. The mother and foal are not in dire need, and are being cared for by volunteers, says Davenport, noting that the TRF may wind up taking them as well.

Silver Cliff and Z Camelot were the first to arrive at the TRF Tuesday following weeks of press and social media attention shedding light on the conditions they lived in with a herd of 41 other horses.

Silver Cliff and Z Camelot were the first to arrive at the TRF Tuesday following weeks of press and social media attention shedding light on the conditions they lived in with a herd of 41 other horses.

The plan now is to restore the health of the horses, and help them regain weight and body condition under the watchful eye of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. A veterinarian team from the renowned medical facility evaluated all horses yesterday, and will work closely on a regimen with Blackburn farm manager Linda Dyer, Davenport says.

The herd of underweight horses came to the attention of local authorities and horse lovers after the Paulick Report ran a succession of stories detailing their plight. The horses were linked to Breeders’ Cup winning-trainer Maria Borell. She trained 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Runhappy before she was reportedly terminated from the position. The library of Paulick Report stories related to Borell and an ongoing investigation can be found here: http://www.paulickreport.com/tag/maria-borell/

Donations to the TRF may be designated to help the newest additions to the Blackburn facility by clicking the donations link at the end of this sentence, scrolling to the lower left of the page, and clicking the Designations drop-down menu: https://trf20546.thankyou4caring.org/Make-A-Gift

TB ride across USA delayed by fall, cancer scare

Valerie Ashker and Peter Friedman are crossing the United States on their OTTBs. Ashker has been sidelined in Utah by a broken clavicle and medical scare.

Valerie Ashker and Peter Friedman are crossing the United States on their OTTBs. Ashker has been sidelined in Utah by a broken clavicle and medical scare.

A 60-year-old California woman attempting to ride her OTTB across the United States has been delayed by mounting medical issues.

Valerie Ashker, the mother of four-star rider Lainey Ashker, sustained a broken clavicle and elbow in a fall last week, an accident occurring just weeks after a horse-kick fractured two or more of her ribs.

And in a worrisome turn of events, doctors discovered a marble-sized “spot” on her lung during a routine, follow-up x-ray, and suggested the daredevil rider take time out to visit an oncologist in Provo yesterday morning. With great relief Ashker announced that the spot was suspected to be caused by an earlier fall, and that though the doctor would follow its progression, he was “not worried” that it was cancerous.

Ashker announced her medical situation on her Facebook page 2nd Makes Thru Starting Gates, to explain to fans and followers that the journey she started to raise awareness about Thoroughbred sport horses had met with some untimely delays.

Solar and Primitivo have been cooling their jets waiting to get back out on their 3,500-mile trail ride.

Solar and Primitivo have been cooling their jets waiting to get back out on their 3,500-mile trail ride.

In an interview yesterday morning en route to the doctor, Ashker said she plans to finish her trek with OTTBs Primitivo and Solar Express no matter what the results of her test showed.

“I’m not backing down,” Ashker says. “The only option is forward and go!”

Noting that the ride is not about her, but about helping to raise awareness about the worth and talent of off-track Thoroughbreds, Ashker notes with some pride that though she has suffered the rigors of the trek that began in early May in California, her horses are fit, sound, and eager to keep going. “They’ve come so far,” she says. “And they’re both opposite ends of the Thoroughbred spectrum. One is a classical Thoroughbred, but the other is a chunky monkey with a thick neck. And yet, they’re both doing fantastically well with this and they’re chomping at the bit to get out of here.”

The plan is to resume the ride midweek with the goal of making it to Holden, Utah. “The horses have been banging their buckets every morning because they want to get out of Dodge. We’re all champing at the bit to keep moving and get to Virginia!”

$100K OTTB makeover project gains key sponsor

Clovis Crane and daughter Dalia ride Yo Koffy in a Thoroughbred Makeover demonstration last year. Photo by Sue Smith

Clovis Crane and daughter Dalia ride Yo Koffy in a Thoroughbred Makeover demonstration last year. Photo by Sue Smith

The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) and Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) jointly announced last week that TCA will be the title sponsor of the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, which will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. on October 27-30.

The TCA Thoroughbred Makeover features 478 trainers from across North America who are working throughout the year to prepare recently retired Thoroughbred racehorses to compete for more than $100,000 in ten equestrian disciplines.

“The Thoroughbred Makeover is an important part of aftercare as it works to create a demand for Thoroughbreds in various disciplines,” said TCA president elect Michael McMahon. “With a demand and market for Thoroughbreds, more of them are being placed in new homes and in second careers once their days on the track are over. We are pleased to be able to support the efforts of the Retired Racehorse Project and the Thoroughbred Makeover.”

Retired Racehorse Project President Steuart Pittman lauded the decision.

“There is probably no group of people on earth more committed to the welfare of Thoroughbred horses than the board of TCA,” Pittman said. “Their support and guidance have made it possible for RRP to move forward, and without it there would be no Thoroughbred Makeover. Together we will show the world that an off-track Thoroughbred is an asset, not a burden.”

The Thoroughbred Makeover includes trainers and horses from 45 states, three Canadian provinces, and Great Britain.  Each will perform in one or two disciplines and be scored on performance.  Barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, Eventing, field hunter, freestyle, polo, show hunter, show jumper, and working ranch will be featured. Top scorers will compete in a Saturday finale, and an overall champion will be crowned America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.

The weekend includes training clinics by top names in each of the ten disciplines, a full schedule of seminars, a sponsor fair to include both organizations and vendors, and special demonstrations.  Many of the horses will be available for sale by their owners at the end of the weekend. Horse shoppers are encouraged to attend and to take time on Sunday for trial rides and veterinary pre-purchase exams. For more information, please visit www.retiredracehorseproject.org.