A severely emaciated mare seized last June in a sweep by the South Florida SPCA and Miami-Dade Police Department was officially identified through Jockey Club DNA testing last week as Affirmed’s granddaughter, Crowning Glory.
The descendant of the last horse to win the Triple Crown, whose identity had been a mystery up until now, raced 13 times and went on to produce five foals in near succession. Her first foal, Cardiac Output, now a beautiful mare, was discovered starving alongside her mother on the day the police and SPCA swooped in on a property in South Florida.
New name: Hopefully Mine
Sire: Caller I.D.
Dam: Crown and Sceptre, by Affirmed
Foal date: March 5, 1996Police arrested property owner Nivardo Beaton and initially charged him with cruelty to animals, a civil offense. However, criminal charges have also been brought against Beaton, according to Laurie Waggoner, farm manager for the South Florida SPCA.
Bad enough that horses were found in such atrocious condition—a veterinarian rated the herd at between a 1 and 2 on the Henneke Horse Body Score System— but it is even more appalling that a direct descendent to one of racing’s greatest horses should come close to starving to death alongside her first foal, says Susie Martell, an SPCA volunteer who adopted Affirmed’s granddaughter and named her Hopefully Mine.
“When I got the call from Kentucky and learned who she was, and then saw that Affirmed was her grandfather, I said, ‘You have got to be kidding me!’ While I was thrilled to know she had such very good breeding—no wonder she was special, her granddaddy won the last Triple Crown—I don’t understand how this could happen. She was literally starving to death.”
Martell made a connection with the mare right from the beginning, when the skin-and-bones animal walked over to her one day and rested her head against Martell’s chest. After that, the sunburned Thoroughbred made a beeline for Martell every time the elementary school teacher came to the SPCA farm to volunteer.
Shortly after the mare was declared to be on the mend, Martell adopted her. For seven months, the new horse owner had wondered about her mare’s past. Who was she? What was her lineage? Had she ever raced before? Answers finally came when Martell’s friends purchased a DNA kit from the Jockey Club for Martell’s birthday.
Following instructions in the kit, she pulled hair with intact hair follicles from the mare’s mane, neatly affixed them to a special card, and mailed them off to the Jockey Club lab. She also took pictures of her beautiful mare, who has only one small spot of white and a crescent on her forehead.
It took only a few days for the identification to be made. And now that she has the story behind the story, Martell is more determined than ever to make sure the remaining years of this horse’s life are her happiest.
The 20-year-old mare, who Martell guessed to be around 11, is being lightly training in hunt seat.
Martell’s goal is to show her beautiful Thoroughbred in walk/trot classes this summer, and show the world what a sweet horse was plucked from starvation conditions one day last summer.
“She’s such an amazing horse,” Martell says. “It’s just outrageous what happened to her.”
Please see related stories about the seizure of starving Thoroughbreds in South Florida: