Two-time Breeders’ Cup participant Cease was suddenly retired after 43 starts and $700,000 in earnings by a determined woman who used the power of social media to plunge into a quest to pluck the horse from a recent downward spiral in the claimers.
Dreux Flaherty of Dallas says she sent out 20 emails and texts a day on behalf of the 17-hand, 9-year-old son of War Chant. Through a “flurry” of notes, she enlisted the aid of Thoroughbred advocates and professionals in a months long effort to end the proud race career of a multiple graded stakes placed horse she says was “just tumbling down the ranks” of claiming races.
Sire: War Chant
Dam: Limit, by Cox’s Ridge
Foal date: March 13, 2007
Earnings: $714,937 in 43 starts“I first learned about Cease through a Facebook message posted by a lady named Lois Brooks. Every day she posted his picture and asked if someone could help retire the horse, and give him some dignity,” Flaherty says. “That’s when I became involved. I started researching him, saw his incredible (race record), and started trying to figure out how to get ahold of his trainer. I sent 273 emails and instant messages through Facebook, talking to stables, rescue groups, and anyone I thought could help.”
In a matter of weeks, Flaherty had enlisted an online posse.
Saratoga-based horseman and outrider John Cosentino got the ball rolling.
He reached out to Flaherty and offered to get a phone number for Cease’s trainer, Eddie Barker. For several weeks, Flaherty peppered Barker and Cosentino with calls and emails until the good word came in January: “Eddie Barker called me then and said his owner thought it was time to retire Cease, and that they wanted to make sure he got a good home,” she says.
By this point, Flaherty had also enlisted the aid of Texas racehorse owners Dallas and Donna Keen, who operate Remember Me Rescue as well. The Keens stepped up to re-train Cease in preparation for becoming Flaherty’s future trail-riding horse.
Flaherty paid to send Cease to the Keen’s Texas facility in style, funding his 3-day ride in a roomy box stall. And, she admits, she called the driver a few times to ensure the retiring racehorse was well hydrated and cared for on his journey.
He arrived at the Keen’s facility on Feb. 12 looking resplendent.
Long-legged and regal, the beautiful bay weathered his travels very well, and quickly made friends at the new barn. “Donna Keen’s barn manager says he is one of the sweetest, kindest horses she’s ever been around,” Flaherty says. “He has no vices, and he comes trotting up when you call to him by name.”
Flaherty and her husband Mark Shapiro have visited nearly every weekend to get to know their new horse, and Dallas Keen has begun training him as a trail horse for the couple. “Dallas rode him in a wind storm on their second ride, and he was so calm” he didn’t turn a hair, she says. “He carries himself like he knows he’s special.”
Beyond the Thoroughbred’s beauty and grace, the animal has brought a new purpose and passion to Flaherty’s life. As well as some new friends.
“John (Cosentino) is flying out in April to come see him, and Lois and I have become dear friends. And Eddie Barker checks on him constantly,” she says, noting, that she is amazed at how the power of social media drew people to her new horse, who was “tumbling down the ranks” just a few months ago.