Far Rockaway may not have set the world on fire at the racetrack, but he sure did light up Facebook last year when fans and new friends saw the 4-year-old had dropped like a stone in a year’s time, running at the bottom-of-the barrel.
The grandson of Dynaformer, and progeny of millionaire Macho Uno ran for a $75,000 tag in May 2013, but had fallen so far that he was scrambling in a $2,500 claimer at Los Alamitos Race Course.
“Clearly this horse had no interest in running races anymore,” says Jenny Earhart, owner of Royal Star Ranch in California. Earhart has taken in many ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds over the years, and after being implored by donors and friends, she agreed to make room for one more: a pretty chestnut gelding.
Sire: Macho Uno
Dam: Rock Goddess
Foal date: March 6, 2010“After the Los Alamitos race on Jan. 26, I contacted the trainer and he agreed to take $2,400 for him,” Earhart says. With financial backing from racehorse owner Maggi Moss, an outspoken proponent of Thoroughbred welfare, and other donors, Earhart drove to the racetrack the next day with her trailer, paid cash for the animal, and loaded him up.
A perfect gentleman, he loaded easily and quickly settled in on her farm. Already a favorite among her riding students, Rocky as she calls him for short, appears destined to remain at her stable, potentially becoming a lesson horse.
“I’ve already had several offers from people who want to adopt him, but I think I’ll be keeping him,” she says, noting that the game plan is to give him 30 days to decompress.
She will pay close attention for signs of lameness or other issues during his letdown, and if all goes well, start slowly retraining him.
Ideally, Rocky will be trained for six months under saddle, and if his calm nature continues, she will allow her advanced students to start riding him. “A lot of my students who’ve been with me for several years like to help me retrain Thoroughbreds,” she says. “So training Rocky could be an important next step in their own training process.”
“There was clearly no reason for him to keep running,” she says. “I think he clearly wanted to be doing something other than be a racehorse. And now that we have him, he’s already proven to be a standup guy, and he deserves some time to enjoy his life and just be a horse.”
Chalk up a big win for all involved. — Originally published Feb. 4, 2014.