An outpouring of help from horsemen, volunteers and businesses has coalesced into “a remarkable hands on effort” to help ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds in the somber waning days of the Suffolk Downs racetrack.
So says Dawn Carey Kirlin, CANTER New England board member, who along with Kim Rigolini and many other CANTER volunteers, is working hard to make sure racehorses have some place to go when the track closes Oct. 4.
An Open House set for Saturday, Sept. 27 has attracted the support of businesses such as Dover Saddlery and Poulin Grain of Vermont, as well horse shippers, who will stand at the ready to help transport the lucky animals.
“Basically, everybody is trying to do everything they can to help,” Kirlin says.
Since the closure of the 79-year-old struggling racetrack was announced a week ago, the number of horses listed for sale has continued to grow, Kirlin says. Though horses are selling to new homes at a brisk pace, new horses are being added on almost as quickly as others are being sold, she explains.
“We still have over 100 horses listed for sale,” she says. “But, we’re also selling quickly. Last weekend we sold 20.”
Because of the heightened activity, it has been a challenge to update the CANTER New England Trainer Listings page, she says, noting that a horse may sell before that information is updated on the horse’s advertisement on the sale page.
As news has spread about the track’s imminent closure, other Thoroughbred organizations have reached out to help.
Molloy explains, “I had a gentleman looking for a very specific type of horse, and I contacted Lorita to see if there was such a horse at Suffolk. I happened to mention to her that due to the high number of adoptions we’ve had lately, I’d be willing to take a horse or two. That’s when she told me about Rich Hero, and that he was in dire need of a home. I agreed to take him, and then we adopted another horse, so I called her and told her we had another stall open up, so to put someone on the van with Rich Hero. And that’s how we got Soccer Goalie.”
Lorita notes that another Thoroughbred is en route to a good home in New Hampshire, to live with a family involved with 4H.
As incentives to prospective buyers, both Dover Saddlery and Poulin Grain have sweetened the pot. Dover Saddlery has donated “starter kits,” which include items such as lead ropes, halters and other goodies to be given to new owners. And Poulin Grain is giving out valuable grain coupons to new owners.
As efforts to re-home horses move into high gear, Kirlin notes the track has been very supportive, opening up its backside, and allowing free access for CANTER volunteers to take new horse listings. “We have someone out there now taking a listing for a horse who lost an eye in a race,” she says.
While some horses are being moved back to their New England farms, because local stallion farms have seen their business prospects evaporate with the loss of Suffolk Downs —there’s no further need for Mass bred horses, Kirlin explains. Those breeders and owners will likely have to recalculate their future plans for the horses they own.
For more information about available horses, please visit CANTER New England’s Trainer Listings, or this CANTER file of horses and Open House information, and consider attending the Open House at Suffolk Downs this Saturday. ♥