With the words, “That’s it; we’re getting her out!” two well-known philanthropic racing professionals teamed up last week to claim back a startlingly pretty race mare from trainer David Jacobson.
With swiftness and commitment to repay a kindness to race mare Rock N Cozy, New York trainer Carl J. Domino and Texas racehorse owner John Murrell united forces behind the mare, this time not to win races, but to see her through to a much-deserved retirement.
“I was worried about her,” says Murrell, a Texas racehorse owner and philanthropist who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to save Thoroughbreds from the slaughter pipeline.
Rock N Cozy
Sire: Rockport Harbor
Dam: Sari, by Cozzene
Foal date: Feb. 25, 2008
Earnings: $231,242 in 39 startsAlthough trainer Jacobson has been criticized in some horse-welfare circles in the past, and just last year was absolved of wrongdoing in the case of another racehorse, detailed in this story in the Daily Racing Form, it was for the horse herself, and not who the trainer was, that Murrell and Domino made their move.
Rock N Cozy just wasn’t running as well as she once did, says Murrell, who notes that though she won her last race, the victory was due to poor competition more than anything.
“I loved that horse. She’s spectacularly beautiful. You don’t often see white Thoroughbreds, and she’s nearly white. But that’s not why I wanted to claim her. The reason is that I’m a sportsman, and though I want to make money like everybody else, I do care about the racehorses and … I wanted to do the right thing for the horse. She’s been very nice to me; I wanted to do right by her.”
And Domino was right there with him on that. For he had trained Rock N Cozy in partnership with Murrell for many years, and grown attached to the friendly mare who “looked for him” every morning in the shedrow, and who made a particular friend of his wife, Sophia.
“This was one of my wife’s favorite horses,” Domino says. “After we claimed her, she stopped dead in the shedrow as soon as she heard my wife’s voice. She’s such a nice filly to be around and we’re all happy to have her back.”
The reunion occurred on the backside of Belmont Park after Race 3 on May 20.
Before Rock N Cozy “emerged with control” from the starting gate to handily win against lesser rivals, Murrell had quietly wired $14,000 to be used by Domino to drop a claiming tag on her.
And though another person had also dropped a claim on the mare, Domino won the shake (the draw), and seven months after losing Rock N Cozy to Davidson, the mare was again entrusted to his care. “I think it was destiny that we got her back,” Domino says. “I had to out shake another claim” —but they got it done.
Like Murrell, Domino was motivated to get her back because he started to doubt the mare could hold her ground in the higher claimers. “No matter who had her, sometimes horses, when they get older are worth less money,” he says. “I didn’t want to see the mare” drop in class “and (possibly) wind up running races every week.”
Likewise for Murrell, it was when he saw her claiming tag drop from around $40,000 to a poor $14,000 that he started to grow concerned that the mare might not end up in as good a situation as he and Domino could provide.
“She was claimed by Jacobson for $50,000 at one point and then for $35,000 last October,” Murrell says. “And then all of a sudden he put her in for $14,000, and I said, that’s it, we’re taking her out.”
As the two decide on the next steps for Rock N Cozy, both men say they are happy such a beautiful horse has returned to their fold.
Friends and business partners for years, Domino and Murrell both donate generously to horse charities. Domino, who was elected to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) Board of Directors last October, created the Jana Domino Thoroughbred Foundation in memory of his daughter, and uses funds to assist several racing-related charities, including the TRF.
Says Domino, “We got to the point (with Rock N Cozy) where we wanted to just take her now and get her a good home.”