Most would have given up on Lady MacJazz.
Hers was a hard-luck story right from the beginning.
Born in 2009, she spent so much time in a hospital stall alongside her sickly mother that there was never even time to get a good baby picture of her.
And her mother took a turn later that year and died of colic, leaving Lady MacJazz with the sad distinction of being the last in that line.
So from bad luck to bad luck her journey would unfold. In a series of missteps and accidents, Lady MacJazz was plagued: In 2011, the now 2-year-old broke her front, left tibia in a pasture accident, after somehow tangling with a fence.
She was rushed to the very Toronto clinic where she’d spent her first months of life with her sickly mother, laid up before she even got to the starting gate.
When she turned 3, after a year of care by the kindly Toronto horseman Yvonne Schwabe, the unlucky beauty finally made it to the Woodbine Race Track, where she put in two very unremarkable races, and wound up lame.
Barn name: Freja
Dam: Jazz Lady
Foal date: April 14, 2009“She just wasn’t holding up,” says owner Kyle Rothfus, who purchased the mare last year, becoming the fourth successive owner in a single year to own the accident-prone animal.
Before Rothfus purchased her, the mare passed from her Toronto breeder to a horseman who purchased her for $1,000 at the Keeneland broodmare prospect sale. Then she sold again, three months later, to an Ohio Hanoverian barn, where the owner hoped to breed her. But that didn’t stick either.
“The last person to have her before me, Laurey Raeburn, is a really good horse person, but she fell on some poor health issues herself last spring, and couldn’t keep her,” Rothfus explains. So Rothfus, who had heard about the mare through friends, agreed to purchase her and give her a good home.
But the hits kept on coming.
The mare injured herself on the trailer ride from Raeburn to Rothfus, sustaining a puncture wound in her hind, right fetlock, which missed the critical synovial membrane by a quarter inch. And after she recovered from that, she developed a case of cellulitis on her legs, where scratches made her susceptible to the painful ailment.
Yet, as pathetic as the mare’s misfortune might sound to some, the silver lining in the story of Lady MacJazz is of the mare’s inexplicable something that somehow draws everyone she meets to her side. Whereas other horses with her health history and penchant for setbacks might drive away the average Joe, the big, beautiful bay had everyone, from her breeder to her successive owners, wrapped around her little hoof.
“This mare is not a sob story case. She’s the Thoroughbred that for some reason, no one gave up on,” he says. “Every person who had this mare really loved her. She was never skinny, her feet were always trimmed … and everywhere this horse goes, people fall in love with her.”
He adds, “So many people would have given up on a horse like this. But nobody did.”
—Kyle Rothfus and Lady MacJazz will compete in the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover in Kentucky later this year.