Call Me Larry, the racehorse who grabbed international headlines five years ago by racing to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, continues to make strides for the cure.
Now retired from racing, Call Me Larry is making the rounds on the show jumping circuit under owner and rider Shaina Humprey of Massachusetts. And like his previous owner, Suzie O’Cain, who founded Find A Cure Stables, his new owner has agreed to donate part of her winnings in the show ring to the breast cancer foundation.
As part of the formal sales agreement struck between the two horsemen, a portion of Call Me Larry’s winnings will be earmarked for a cause that has been at the heart of his race career, and his original owner’s personal quest to raise funds and hopes for a cure.
Said O’Cain, “I hated the idea of selling Larry,” after he retired. “But, if he had stayed with me, he wouldn’t have had this opportunity (as a show horse), and it meant more to me that he could continue to raise money for breast cancer research.”
Call Me Larry
Dam: Flying Cross
Foal date: April 7, 2003
Earnings: $82,815And when she saw Larry step into the show ring at the Thoroughbred Renaissance Show Sept. 29, O’Brien knew she had done the right thing in selling the beautiful horse she bred herself, and reared on High Cliff Farm in New york.
With the bearing of a noble gentleman, Larry cantered his jumps course in his naturally beautiful frame; head tucked just a little, powerful body held in check before easily skipping over small jumps.
Even before the strikingly beautiful, 17.2-hand bay entered the show ring, the judges gasped when they saw him, says his new owner.
“When we walked him up to the ring for his first class, as we passed the judges, they both said, ‘Oh my God! That horse is stunning!” Humprey says, noting that other competitors seemed a little psyched out when they learned they were up against Larry.
“Jaws drop when they see this horse,” she adds. “Everyone knew he was a winner. You look at him and you just see it.”
Larry was always something of a dazzler too, as both women had fallen quickly under his spell.
“He is just the kind of horse who draws people to him,” Humprey says, noting that the first time she saw him walking toward her at Highcliff Farm, where she’d stopped to check out two other sales prospects, there was just something irresistible about him.
“The very instant I saw him I told Suzie’s husband Doc to put him directly on my trailer,” she says. But O’Cain wasn’t so quick to let him go. They’d had a dazzling history together in 2007 and 2008.
It all started years before, when O’Cain, the well-known board member of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the New York Thoroughbred Breeder’s, Inc., met pre-eminent breast cancer researcher Dr. Larry Norton at the annual Saratoga Luncheon.
O’Cain and her husband were showing Dr. Norton and friends around the fabled raceway and out of respect for his esteemed position, O’Cain addressed their guest as Dr. Norton. To which he readily replied, “Call me Larry.”
“By the time the luncheon was over he must have told me 10 times that I should call him Larry, and I finally said to him, ‘I’ve got a two-year-old in Florida and I’m going to name him after you.’ ”
And then the thought occurred that if she was going to name the great horse after the good doctor, she should go a step further.
“The next day I said to my husband that I was going to go all out” to raise money and awareness for breast-cancer research, she says.
Soon after, she founded Find A Cure Stable, their racing silks emblazoned with the breast cancer pink-ribbon logo, and asked Call Me Larry to go out and win, not just for her, but also for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Call Me Larry raced for two years beginning with a Maiden Special Weight at Aqueduct in 2007. He won a total of $82,000, of which approximately $10,000 in race winnings was donated to the research foundation.
“The more money I gave, the faster he ran,” O’Cain says. “I think Larry had a mission.”
Their mission was chronicled in newspaper articles around the world, and O’Cain and Dr. Norton appeared on The Today Show to discuss the cause.
There was a time when it seemed everyone was caught up in what Call Me Larry was doing, O’Cain recalls. Some cancer survivors even saw in him, something of their own struggle, as they watched with inspiration his come-from-behind running style, so typical of this particular American Thoroughbred.
“Survivors would email me, saying things like Larry runs the way they fought their cancer battles,” O’Cain says. “They would tell me that just when you think there’s no way Larry can win, he starts flying.”
And Call Me Larry is still flying today. Just as stately as ever, he now carries a new rider in a new game. But his efforts on behalf of breast cancer research are steadfast.
“This horse was running for a cause, which was so beautiful,” O’Cain says. “And now his new owner Shaina, is giving 25 percent of his winnings to the Breast Cancer Foundation” and still causing people to stop in their tacks as they behold his sheer beauty. “When I saw him at the show I got so choked up I started crying,” O’Cain says.