They went through wars to collect nearly $700,000 between them, only to reap their biggest payoff in retirement— the sweet grass of their own modest, two-acre paddock in Michigan.
It might not look like much to the untrained eye, but the small, fenced-in yard where Ident and Man of Danger now call home might as well be a sprawling estate for all the good it has done the pair.
Both horses, who forged a fast friendship in the tranquility of the paddock, slogged it out on racetracks, earning big money before they met.
Today, as the cherished pets of Jeannie Peroglio and her husband, they reap love and tenderness as their winnings, and best of all, a chance to do something more than race.
“Both of these horses earned a really great retirement,” says Gail Hirt, founder of federal nonprofit Beyond the Roses Equine Rescue. Hirt’s nonprofit facility was the first stop for both horses after their race careers ended.
“Ident last ran at River Downs and then was taken to Beulah Park in Ohio. He was such a sweet horse that his owner at the time, Dan Etheridge, used to ride him around bareback on the backside,” Hirt explains.
“So, when Ident was 14-years-old, Dan called us and said he really wanted to find him a home.”
Originally, Ident was destined to retire at Old Friends Kentucky, but a lack of space delayed that move. Instead, Hirt agreed to Race name: Ident
Sire: Mt Livermore
Dam: Allen’s Dancer
Foal date: March 28, 1996
Race name: Man of Danger
Sire: Tiger Ridge
Dam: Cope Lady
Foal date: April 17, 2002
Winnings: $564,487foster Ident until he could be moved, and cared for him for nearly 10 months, nursing him through a life-threatening bout of colic.
When Hirt bumped into Peroglio at the local feed store, Ident’s fate was quickly sealed. Instead of waiting for an opening at the burgeoning Old Friends, Peroglino would take him home with her.
Peroglino says the chance meeting with Hirt led her to one of her best horse-related decisions.
“I was buying feed for my older Thoroughbred, Tuck, who was 31 at the time, when I mentioned to Gail Hirt, who was at the feed store, that I was looking for a companion horse for him,” Peroglio says. “We started talking, and she told me how sweet Ident was, and I assured her that my horses are pets; I don’t sell them, and I don’t make money from them.”
When she went to meet Ident, and learned he had just come through a severe bout of colic, Peroglio admired the stoic animal for being a true “survivor.”
After all, he had 107 starts, mostly claiming level, and retired at the ripe, old age of 14 with more than $200,000 in winnings to his name. He was in fine form, and also possessed a good personality.
“I knew I wanted him,” Peroglio says. “He had such a tremendous desire to live, and yet, he was quiet.”
Quiet doesn’t mean Ident wasn’t a little naughty at the beginning. But a stern warning from her soon corrected his nippy ways.
“There was one day when he pinned his ears and came at me with his teeth, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re going to Old Friends!’ But, after I yelled at him, he never did it again!”
He settled in nicely, in fact. He was a comforting companion to her old horse Tuck, who eventually died after suffering congestive heart failure.
“After I had to have Tuck put down, about two months ago, I found myself again with one horse. I wanted a couple months to recover from losing Tuck, and I decided I wouldn’t look for a companion horse for Ident for a while.”
But, then the phone rang. It was Gail Hirt with news of another deserving ex-racehorse.
Man of Danger had been a Grade 2 and Grade 3 stakes winner, and had run at Belmont and Aqueduct before dropping down to run at Beulah. He was claimed and wound up at Hirt’s facility to await a new owner.
“As I listened to her tell me about the horse, and she told me he was real sweet, and that he wouldn’t bite me, I started to take notes about Man of Danger,” Peroglio says.
And soon after that, the strikingly handsome Man of Danger arrived to keep Ident company.
“They bonded really quickly,” she says. “At one point, they ate out of the same hay bin; they became inseparable.”
Although she plans to put some training into Man of Danger and start riding him, for now, it is reward enough to see her small pasture filled up with the presence of two great racehorses.
“I don’t follow racing, but for some reason, I’ve always been partial to Thoroughbreds,” Peroglio says. “I think it’s their spirit that I love so much.”
And now, Ident and Man of Danger are spectacular additions to a family that will dote on them until the end of their days.