As the South Florida SPCA continues to restore the health of five Thoroughbred broodmares rescued in a sweep by the Miami Dade Agricultural patrol earlier this month, progress is being made toward determining identities of the starving animals.
Mare Maggie’s Shamrock was identified via her perfectly clear lip tattoo, in combination with her bodily markings. However, the remaining four mares, all described as “plain bay” and devoid of markings, have proven more difficult, says Laurie Waggoner, director of ranch operations for South Florida SPCA.
Only tentative identifications have been made of the other mares, but hope is high that confirmation of their Jockey Club names will be made through the use of technology, and even possibly DNA matching, says Waggoner.
The Jockey Club has been in contact with the South Florida SPCA, confirms Rick Bailey, registrar of the Lexington office. “We’re aware of the case, and have had phone calls back and forth,” he says, noting that DNA matching has a high degree of success in horses born in year 2001 or later.
“We have the DNA type of every Thoroughbred born in those years on file,” he says, noting that if the broodmares gave birth to registered Thoroughbred babies, those records would also be searchable via DNA from a broodmare’s hair sample.
Before the “rare” effort to DNA match is further considered, the South Florida SPCA will first try to use a black light to try to illuminate the unreadable letters and numbers, Waggoner says. The U-VA light is arriving this week, and volunteers will try once again to get a clearer identification.
Meantime, the four mares have been tentatively identified as El Belajo, Victory Snit, The Graceful Saint and Raise Fee.
A sixth mare, who did not have a tattoo, but was identified by experts as a Thoroughbred, was euthanized shortly after she arrived at the rescue farm. Found lying down, the emaciated animal was unable to get to her feet, even after IV drugs were administered to boost her system, Waggoner says.
“The vet didn’t believe she had colic. She had normal gut sounds and was still passing manure,” she says. “We suspect she may have fallen in her stall and hit her head. And when it became clear to us that there was no way she would be getting up, we made the decision to humanely euthanize her.”
Though the rest of the band is slowly returning to health, it will be some weeks before slow and steady weight gain brings back a healthy appearance, Waggoner says.
“They’re all doing well,” she adds. “They holler for their food and they’re eating every bit of it. Personality wise, they are the nicest, friendliest horses.”
The cost of returning the mares to health is high, especially in the first critical month.