The daughter of 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend A Buck was saved this summer from the slaughterhouse by eight horse lovers who each committed $1 per day to help the imperiled Thoroughbred.
Dubbing themselves “Team Flossie,” the group of horsemen joined Linda Passaretti and Anne Tucker of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in an effort Passaretti describes as “syndicaring” (her word for syndicating a rescue horse), sharing the costs of caring and saving the doomed mare, Thrilled Flossie.
Sire: Spend A Buck
Dam: Thrilled, by To The Quick
Foal date: 1999“I was initially contacted by Hank DeLeo to ask if the TRF could take Flossie,” Passaretti said. “We have nearly 900 horses—we’re at capacity. But I was told that if we could fund her (yearly costs), and could get the horse hauled from Lebanon, Pa., to our facility in Wallkill, N.Y., that we could do it.”
Fueled by her own fire—she was “sad and mad at the same time” — Passaretti quickly reached out to friends and horsemen she has met while fundraising for the TRF, and by Aug. 2, the date Flossie was due to ship to slaughter, the once luckless Thoroughbred suddenly had eight friends who’d agreed to pay the annual $2,500 cost to sponsor a retired racehorse at the TRF.
“Saving this horse has been the most amazing experience,” Passaretti said. “We created this group and shared in the experience to make sure that this horse would live. Normally I have the 40,000-foot-view of (the issue of horse slaughter). I’ve understood the realities of what happens to these horses, but I’d never been actively involved before.
“But when I saw Flossie’s window was closing, and here was this beautiful mare who never even ran a race—I don’t know what she’s done for 16 years, where she came from or how she got there— and she’s just a sweet, unassuming mare who wound up standing in that kill pen. It must have been awful for her.”
And just like that, the game changed for Thrilled Flossie. Instead of shipping from Lebanon, Pa. to slaughter, she was instead whisked away to live in upstate New York at the TRF’s Wallkill facility.
On a crisp day in early October, Passaretti and Tucker joined the other members of Team Flossie to check on their new charge. Fat and happy, she resides in a field of geldings under the supervision of longtime TRF horseman Jim Tremper.
As they walked toward the beautiful mare, who was led by Tremper, Passaretti was struck by how good it felt to see an innocent animal, happy in retirement, and knowing she had a role in it.
“When you turn on the news and see people being gunned down, it’s a real antidote to find people with love and compassion, who are willing to band together as a group to do something like this,” she said.
Each Team Flossie member agreed to donate $365/year to make sure Flossie never has to stand in another kill pen. In addition to Passaretti and Tucker, other members are: TRF donors Hank DeLeo and Alice Fulton, who originally alerted Passaretti to Flossie’s predicament, and Regina Schneller, Brenda Waters, Sally and Leon Lieberman, and an anonymous friend. And, Bettyann Pasinella paid for Flossie’s shipping.
The team, she said, took the impossible and made it possible.
“I don’t think people really understand the costs associated with taking a horse,” Passaretti said. “People assume the TRF can rescue all of them. But we have close to 900 horses, and each requires about $2,500 annually for food and care.
“I know that as soon as one horse is rescued, another one slides in to take that horse’s place” in the slaughter pipeline. “I’ve found I need to find satisfaction and fulfillment saving one horse at a time.”
Visiting Flossie with the rest of Team Flossie in October, the breathtakingly beautiful mare was blossoming in good health. “She’s living in a paddock with five geldings, one of whom is her devoted suitor,” Passaretti said.
Those interested in sponsoring a retired racehorse, in part or in full, are invited to check out the TRF’s sponsorship site: http://www.trfinc.org/you-can-help/sponsorship/