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.
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.
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.
“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.”