Author’s note: This week, I am re-running some earlier stories, which were favorites among readers. Off-TrackThoroughbreds will resume its regular publication cycle on Monday, Sept. 24, 2012.
After nine years of searching for the special race mare who could always be counted on to win for her, Anne Buxton found Sarah Says Go at the end of the line: the Camelot feedlot in New Jersey.
Over the summer, Buxton stumbled across some information on Camelot’s website indicating a horse by the same name had been there, but had been purchased by a new owner.
But any relief she felt was short lived. As she did more research, eventually tracking down the new owner online, it was unclear whether the chestnut with big, white blaze had survived at all.
“Over the years I’d made inquiries, but nobody knew anything about Sarah, and I finally figured she was dead,” Buxton says. “Then fast-forward to this summer. I was messing around online, punching in names to Equibase, a pedigree query, and her name turned up!”
With a hammering heart, Buxton started to delve further, tracking down the name of the new owner via the Internet, only to discover that the young lady who took the horse had indicated on her Facebook page that the mare was put down.
Name: Sarah Says Go
Sire: Beau Genius
Dam: Sarah Says So
Foal date: 1997“I almost fell over,” Buxton says. “I looked for this horse for nine years, and it appeared that I found her the day after she was put down. I was devastated.”
Information was confusing, and thinking the horse had already been humanely euthanized because of illness, Buxton wrote anyway to the new owner. This is when she learned the horse still lived.
“I was told Sarah was still alive, but was scheduled to be euthanized the next day!” Buxton recalls. “The owner told me the mare had been dropping weight, and that a veterinarian recommended she be put down.”
Immediately, memories of her special race mare, who won for her when she needed it most, came flooding back. She decided she owed the old girl something.
“I never felt good about our decision to sell her. She put food on the table and made it possible for us to pay our bills,” Buxton says. “But, when we sold her as a four-year-old, she was the most valuable horse we had, and we really needed the money.
“I always wanted to get her back.”
Still somewhat strapped for money, Buxton’s friends, along with horse-welfare nonprofit The Second Race contributed toward the $500 cost to ship Sarah from Virginia to Ocala, Fla., where she and her husband live.
The young lady who purchased Sarah from Camelot personally drove the mare roughly 80 miles to meet a professional horse-shipping company, and transfer the horse for the long haul.
“They met at a rest stop and the horse was taken off the van and put on a truck,” Buxton says, noting that Sarah was the type of Thoroughbred who proved again and again she was “tough as nails.”
One time, she was knocked down in a race. The type of accident that often mars a racehorse, the incident seemed to have no effect on Sarah’s spirit. “She continued racing and seemed unfazed by it.”
After Sarah left Buxton in 2001, she completed 49 starts and earned over $100,000 before her career ended in low-level claimers. After that, she became a brood mare, and eventually wound up at the feedlot.
It appears to Buxton that Sarah had quite a difficult life before she found her again. The horse was skittish and had to be tranquilized shortly after she arrived in Florida.
And adding to her heightened anxiety was a recently diagnosed thyroid condition, which is steadily improving with correct medication.
Now safe in her barn, Sarah is putting on weight and her happy personality is returning, Buxton says.
She once again wears the halter with brass nameplate that she had back then, a piece of tack that Buxton held on to all these years.
Although the horse has seen a lot of hardship in the intervening years, the familiar piece of leather is a reminder that she is again home.
“She recognized us immediately when she arrived Nov. 10. And I’m just so happy to have her back,” Buxton says. “I always wanted to get her back. Sarah was the kind of horse who always took care of us. She made us money when we were completely broke.”
After nine years of searching for the horse she thought was dead, Buxton is working to make sure Sarah gets her chance to rewrite the story. So that it ends differently, and where a little care and a lot of love is her lasting reward.