Six months after Santa Anita head clocker John Malone took pity on a once-great racehorse, who earned a million dollars in his prime before sinking to a 10th place finish in his last race, the humble horseman and the great steed Cost of Freedom live quietly on a California farm where the din of the racetrack is far away.
Now, instead of battling it out for position on the dirt, the dark bay beauty is angling for turf rights on his side of the pasture fence. On the other side is ex-racehorse Judge Gallivan.
“I can’t figure out who the alpha is going to be,” says Malone, chuckling. “Judge Gallivan is a 17.1 hand, large horse. But he used to get pushed around by a 15.1-hand Quarter Horse I used to have. The Quarter Horse just ruled him.”
Now, the statuesque gray challenges Cost of Freedom to regular match races along the 100-foot fence line, but Malone isn’t betting on a winner yet!
Cost of Freedom
Sire: Cee’s Tizzy
Dam: Freedom Dance
Foal date: Feb. 24, 2003
Earnings: $1,018,799“Judge is acting like he’s trying to be the alpha. I think they’ll sort it out soon,” he says.
It’s nice to focus on the daily quirks of an animal who was the center of a social media controversy last December. Before Cost of Freedom ran his last race at Betfair Hollywood Park, finishing 10th in a claimer, horse advocates and turf writers speculated that it was “just sad” that an animal who had won more than $1 million on the track was still slogging it out after 47 starts.
At the time, Malone remembers feeling the same way when he saw the gentle gelding’s name come up again on his race reports. “I just felt bad,” Malone told Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com in an interview at the time. “He ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (in 2009) and won over a million dollars. All I could think was, ‘Why is he still here? Hasn’t he done enough?’ ”
And then he decided to dip into his own pocket and pay $8,600 to claim the horse for himself. It was not easy coming up with such a large sum. But a fundraiser was soon started on social media, and Malone eventually recouped most of the cost, he says.
And now Cost of Freedom is on easy street.
He is still trying to shed the thick coat he grew this past winter, and is enjoying hand walks with Malone down a nearby road.
Cost of Freedom enjoys leaning in for a head rub, and explores his new terrain calmly and with smarts, reports Malone. The only fly in the ointment, he says, is that Cost of Freedom’s coat is a little dull, and he has a mild cough, promising that he plans to have him scoped and some blood work done to make sure everything’s right.
“He was a bad bleeder on the track, and I suspect he has some scar tissue there, which causes a cough after some exertion,” he says, adding that he is eating well, and displays a great temperament.
“He’s just a real sweet horse. He follows me around like a dog,” Malone says. “When people come out to see him, they can’t believe that he ever was a racehorse.”