A gala and show to benefit Texas OTTBs

Donna Keen and Early Engagement

Donna Keen and Early Engagement

At an upcoming gala fundraiser and horse show to benefit Texas-based nonprofit charity Remember Me Rescue, racing and horse-rescue personnel have banded together to raise funds and awareness for their good work during a two-day event in Texas this spring.

On April 26, Lone Star Park will host some of racing’s biggest celebrities, including Julie Krone, Jack Van Berg and Maggi Moss, at a fundraiser to benefit a charity that has been at the center of high-profile horse rescues.

Last year, Remember Me Rescue stepped up to help 10 mares belonging to the famous Asmussen racing family. The mares were saved from a livestock auction frequented by kill buyers.

The humane work done by Donna Keen, president of the hardworking Texas rescue, and that of her partners in the racing world, will be on display during an exciting horse show the day after the gala.

Beginning at 8 a.m., the All Thoroughbred Horse Show & Battle of the X’s OTTB Trainer’s Challenge will pit top OTTBs against one another in a variety of classes, including a unique Companion Horse challenge.

Ellen Doughty and Conqueror's Luge

Ellen Doughty and Conqueror’s Luge

Ten OTTBs competing at show are residents of Keen’s rescue, and are prepping now for their big reveal in three months.

“I just say, ‘Wow!’ everyday now. There’s so much good going on,” Keen says.  Her two famous rescue horses —Cactus Cafe & Canuki — will participate in the show to demonstrate their newfound skills in the show ring, while horses with injuries, those who are candidates to be companion horses only, will also be shown in a class.

“The companion horse class, for me, is the highlight of our show,” Keen says. “Every handicap they have will be overlooked. Instead, they’ll be judged for their personality and ground manners.

“We don’t have the prize yet for this class, but I am planning to do something really special, because it’s the people who take care of OTTBs that can’t be ridden who really need to be recognized.”

The show, which takes place at Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, will feature a total of 10 ex-racehorses from Remember Me Rescue; OTTBs who have undergone months of retraining by trainers who will also ride the mounts in the competition.

Julie Krone, Maggi Moss, Mary Cage and Carol Dean-Porter will judge the performances of Keen’s horses, as well as others entered in the show.

Canuki relaxes between training sessions

Canuki relaxes between training sessions

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in the trainer’s challenge will receive $5,000, $3000, and $2,000, respectively.

Long before the show has taken place, Keen already feels like a winner.

The fact that so many people are there for support, both in and out of the Thoroughbred industry, demonstrates the abundance of goodwill people feel for the majestic animal.

“It just blows my mind how willing people are to help,” she says. “As soon as we came up with the idea for the trainer’s challenge and fundraiser, we made a few phone calls, and we were just inundated with people asking what they could do to help.”

She adds, “We have so many great people who love Thoroughbred racing and the Thoroughbred ex-racehorse that without me having to ask for anything, they offer to help.”

And many who step forward to offer help, step up with the tools to get the job done.

Richard and Karen Papiese, of Midwest Thoroughbreds, recently offered to build Keen a 20-horse barn for her rescue.

Luge focusing in training

Luge focusing in training

“After Rich read something I wrote about the Asmussen mares, he sent us a check for $10,000 to help our program,” she says. “I was blown away, and I called him to thank him for his generosity.

“I told him that we would use the money to finish the little barn we were building.  That’s when he said he’d build me a barn.”

Construction is due to begin this week.

Between the construction project, the re-training challenge, and the forthcoming gala and horse show, Keen feels blessed with friends and supporters.

“There’s no way to express how grateful I am for the things unfolding in front of us,” she says. “My whole business is supported by owners and trainers, and by the good people in the Thoroughbred industry.”

6 responses to “A gala and show to benefit Texas OTTBs”

  1. Sally

    This is SO great, Sue, such wonderful people doing GREAT things for these horses. Thank you always for sharing these inspiring stories, and I wish them all the best with the gala fundraiser & horse show!! :)

  2. Cynthia Minchillo

    Hi Sue,
    What a great story and how excited am I to attend! I have read about your shows up north, and now finally, there is going to be something here. Thanks again for bringing all these great stories.

    Cynthia

  3. Jo-Anne Ward

    No kidding Sally. It is inspiring & so great to read Susan’s
    writings like this. I also think the ‘Companion Horse Class’is special, as it adds even more meaning to REMEMBER ME RESCUE.
    Here in Toronto, I’m sure everybody knew of Steve Asmussen’s string of horses at Woodbine in past, some of which owned by Maggi Moss. I can just imagine her possibily saying or at least thinking awhile back,”why sure Keith, I believe ya,how could you
    possibly know any horses ending up at slaughter?” Oh God. But hay,it is a little bit funny that Cash Asmussen may not receive bunch more cheques from the many respectable owners who don’t want to just dump young or retired race horses where ever.Cool pic of now 4 yo filly Early Engagement.Racing really needs many more of these great after track life articles. It gives renewed hope for the Thoroughbred Industry.Thank goodness for the awesome trainers and owners who care. We just need more of them, like Midwest.Be fun to watch those 10 OTTB’s this spring before Derby Day.Maybe some of that purse money could go to continued efforts of Remember Me Rescue.

  4. Fran

    Hooray for Donna, an amazing and inspiring role model for anyone who wants to effect change in the horse world — it can be done, she’s doing it!

  5. Vicki Morgan

    Sue, Thanks so much for the lovely article about Donna & RMR and what we’re trying to do here in Texas. You nailed the essence of Donna and what Remember Me is all about! Wish you could join us on 4-26 & 4-27 to see all this come together. When I think back about how all this started on a trip to save 9 TB geldings from a camp in Central Texas in October, it is mind-boggling!

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