As the racehorse trembled with colic so severe it seemed he would die, his suffering would actually herald one of his luckiest days. Not because he was in such pain, but because a woman once dubbed the “Angel of Suffolk Downs” would appear and notice his plight.
Suffolk Downs trainer Lorita Lindemann saw the sick horse last year while visiting her own Thoroughbreds in the same barn; and she decided on the spot to do what she could for Legends Way.
For weeks she assisted in the care of the Thoroughbred, helping to administer medication and spending time with him in his stall. And the more time she spent the more impressed she became.
“He’s a very sweet horse and he really stood out to me,” says Lorita Lindemann, Suffolk Downs trainer and horse-welfare advocate. “I didn’t think he was going to make it. But he did. And he proved how good he was when he went back into training and picked up right where he left off.”
Lindemann kept tabs on him as he returned to racing, noticing when he ran and how he did.
New name: Rhys
Dam: Not Bashful
Foal date: Feb. 6, 2004
Career earnings: $64,885But Legends just didn’t have the speed he once did.
It was another fortunate day for the former Calder Race Track racer when he was entered in a low-level claiming race at Suffolk Downs. It was the opportunity Lindemann had hoped for to claim him, and retire him.
First, she called Legends’ former owner Maggi Moss. She asked the local trainer to claim him back in a race, and she did. “She’s a well-respected owner who is very much in favor of doing the right thing for a horse,” Lindemann notes.
Next, she contacted friend and fellow horse advocate Barbi Moline of Florida TRAC (Thoroughbred Retirement & Adoptive Care Program) to find a foster stall for Legends. Since he had previously raced in Florida, he was eligible for assistance from the nonprofit that serves Florida horses.
Once the new home was secured, she contacted Lorraine Horse Transportation to ask if they had room for one more on their truck.
Not only did they find room, they donated the shipping service, saving Lindemann and friends $850.
“That was a big deal for them to donate a long trip like that,” she says. “It was a lot of money.”
Over the winter, Legends Way, the descendent of Bold Ruler, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat, settled into his new home at the Hidden Acres Equestrian Center in Coco, Fla.
And this is where a math major at a local university discovered him, and a little horse-love chemistry ensued.
Lifelong equestrian Roxanne Moore had herself gone through a rough patch when she arrived at the farm. She’d been laid off from a position as a data analyst when she picked up work at the farm teaching riding lessons and schooling ex-racehorses.
A few weeks ago, Legends Way turned up on her roster of horses to ride, and as she climbed on his back she thought, “This is not going to end well.” Meaning, she knew she wanted to buy the horse.
“He was an angel, right from the beginning,” Moore says. “He was so easy and willing to try to learn what I was asking of him.”
And Moore was intent on buying him, even with her budgetary constraints.
She was calculating how she could “readdress the budget” to squeeze in the 15.2 chestnut when, two weeks ago, she got a new job.
She immediately purchased Legends. “Everything just fell into place two weeks ago!”
Not the type to gush over a horse, this time she simply could not contain her enthusiasm. She owned several horses and different breeds in the past, but this is her favorite.
“Every ride, even our bad rides, have been awesome,” she says. “He is so mellow and cooperative that this past Sunday I took him on a cross-country course for schooling.
“He was the most level-headed horse there. We trotted and cantered on a loose rein across 300 acres.”
He is progressing so well at dressage schooling that Legends, now named Rhys, will compete in his first show tomorrow at a nearby Florida farm.
Up north in Boston, the woman the Boston Globe once called an “angel” for her horse advocacy work, readies for the start of the new racing season.
At the same time, she is rooting for the low-level claimer who won her heart during his struggle for health.
“Oh God, I was so happy when I heard that Roxanne was interested in him,” Lindemann says. “He’s a great horse!”