TRF takes 6 hungry, abandoned horses into herd

Z Camelot is among six horses accepted into the TRF Blackburn facility on Tuesday.

Z Camelot is among six horses accepted into the TRF Blackburn facility on Tuesday.

Silver Cliff and Z Camelot, two Thoroughbreds discovered in a herd of abandoned horses linked to a Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer, were officially released yesterday to the safety of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF).

Following a decision by Mercer County Kentucky officials, which declared a herd of 43 horses to be legally “abandoned” and available to rescue workers, the TRF arrived and took the two Thoroughbreds, as well as other tattooed, unidentified horses and an unweaned yearling.

Diana Pikulski, TRF director of external affairs, says the two OTTBs were picked up and delivered safely to the TRF’s Blackburn facility in Kentucky at around noon yesterday.

Silver Cliff, a 2002 gelding by Silver Charm, and Z Camelot, who was owned by Triple Crown winning Zayat Stables, were to receive care from inmates at the Blackburn Correctional Complex, where the TRF has a facility. “The inmates will be 100 percent devoted to nursing them back to health,” Pikulski says.

Silver Cliff, gray, and Z Camelot check out a mare and foal after all safely arriving at the TRF.

Silver Cliff, gray, and Z Camelot check out a mare and foal after all safely arriving at the TRF.

Silver Cliff, who was originally retired to TRF Blackburn after his racing career ended in 2006, according to the Paulick Report, was welcomed back with gratitude and relief.

“We’re just really thankful that the story with the Paulick Report seemed to get the facts out there so that” the abandoned horses could be removed from the property, says Pikulski. “Time will tell, and we’ll see how everybody does. The horses will live in a very secure spot and veterinarians from Rood & Riddle will be very involved with their care.”

So far, all horses taken into the TRF herd at Blackburn are doing very well, says TRF herd manager Sara Davenport. Identities of the horses have not yet been determined. However, all have lip tattoos, she notes.

“Aside from being hungry, they’re really friendly, alert, and interested in the world around them,” Davenport says. “When we walk out into the fields to visit them, they pick their heads up and allow us to pet them.”

A hungry mare grazes with her foal. All horses had lip tattoos and will be identified shortly.

A hungry mare grazes with her foal. All horses had lip tattoos and will be identified shortly.

And when a mare and (yearling) from the same herd were delivered to an adjacent paddock later in the day, Silver Cliff gave up his grazing to go pay a visit, she adds. “He hasn’t eaten anything in the last half hour because he’s so infatuated with the mare and her baby. And Z Camelot is just kind of following Silver Cliff around. They’re both aware and still very involved in everything going on around them.”

Though both horses show signs of malnutrition, and Z Camelot’s coat has a few patchy spots where the hair has fallen out, neither show signs of infection, illness or lameness, Davenport adds. “They seem to be in good spirits. They’re not limping. They don’t have snotty noses or runny eyes, and they seem to be fairly perky,” she says.

Davenport confirms that the TRF welcomed a total of six, with the possibility of taking in another mare and foal currently still living at the farm on Martin Lane in Kentucky, which has been at the center of controversy. The mother and foal are not in dire need, and are being cared for by volunteers, says Davenport, noting that the TRF may wind up taking them as well.

Silver Cliff and Z Camelot were the first to arrive at the TRF Tuesday following weeks of press and social media attention shedding light on the conditions they lived in with a herd of 41 other horses.

Silver Cliff and Z Camelot were the first to arrive at the TRF Tuesday following weeks of press and social media attention shedding light on the conditions they lived in with a herd of 41 other horses.

The plan now is to restore the health of the horses, and help them regain weight and body condition under the watchful eye of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. A veterinarian team from the renowned medical facility evaluated all horses yesterday, and will work closely on a regimen with Blackburn farm manager Linda Dyer, Davenport says.

The herd of underweight horses came to the attention of local authorities and horse lovers after the Paulick Report ran a succession of stories detailing their plight. The horses were linked to Breeders’ Cup winning-trainer Maria Borell. She trained 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Runhappy before she was reportedly terminated from the position. The library of Paulick Report stories related to Borell and an ongoing investigation can be found here:

Donations to the TRF may be designated to help the newest additions to the Blackburn facility by clicking the donations link at the end of this sentence, scrolling to the lower left of the page, and clicking the Designations drop-down menu:

13 responses to “TRF takes 6 hungry, abandoned horses into herd”

  1. Deborah K

    So what can we do including the racing community to make the abuse laws tougher? 43 2nd degree counts of animal cruelty is ONLY a misdeamenor in the state of KY. If they hadnt declared it abandonment there is absolutely NOTHING in Ky law that demands the animals be taken away. We here in mercer county had 2 horse abuse cases last year in our court. First one the owner chose a month of jail time rather than give up the horses that she had abused & was found guilty. The group Im in with got involved with 3 abused stallions last fall. That owner gave up oenership rather than take jail time if found guilty. She hadnt paid a cent toward ALL the vet bills we had for the 3 months of care they required before she gave up ownership. She basically got off scott free with that abuse. What is wrong with us here in KY. we get up in arms about the abuse when it happens like this but as soon as it becomes old news we go back to our status Quo without making changes that could toughen up the laws & maybe discourage some of the abuse BEFORE it happens rather thsn swooping in after as heros caring for them AFTER they have already been hurt & abused. We want to make chsnges but seem to be met with block walls every direction we turn. These wonderful x race horses have the backing of the racing community to care for them…how about the thousands of others that dont. Can we take some of thst support & band together to get laws in place to help stop the abuse before it happens by making it a costly crime rather than a slap on the wrist if even that much or at least if they still choose to abuse that it will definitely COST them for doing it.
    After many gave our lives to save the 3 stallions last year & investigating the laws, it was appaling. WE need to do something PROACTIVE to stop this kind of abuse to our equines & all domestic animals in this state. We should be ashamed to call this the horse capital of the world when we have ABSOLUTELY NO laws on the books ptotecting them from this kind of abuse

  2. Mary McLeod

    Thank you to ALL of my species who worked together to save these equines from a deplorable and dispeakable state, and thank you Susan to adding your voice!!! High hooves and three whinnies for big hearts and kind spirits!!!!!! I am so happy Silver Cliff and Z Camelot were the first to go to a healing and caring home, for they appeared to be the most desperate. Rescues such as this are the true value of social media. May God hold all these dear people and horses in the palm of His hand, Mary in Boone

  3. Judy Farrell

    Hooray for this, and the efforts of my good friend Carrie Gibert for getting help for these horses.

  4. Terri Griffith

    Susan, thank you for providing the story and update. This is a very sad and dire situation. It’s good to see TRF and others stepping in to help. Unfortunately, not all situations like this get the same help or publicity. Hopefully, it will raise awareness over all which seems to be happening across the Industry. Many thanks to you as your wonderful success stories that highlight all of the good things happening in the world of retired racehorses, and the incredible people involved, play a large part in this renaissance.

    I also wanted to mention that I believe credit is due to Margaret Ransom of US Racing for being one of the first to shed light on this story. The Paulick Report may link to her article. Thanks again Susan!

  5. colmel

    Thank you, Susan, for continuing to get the word out. I applaud the authorities for jumping in as soon as they legally could. I really applaud all the volunteers and rescue organizations who have mobilized to help get these wonderful horses out of such deplorable conditions. The more light that shines on this kind of abuse, the better because it will help bring about necessary change. Keep it up, Susan! As much as we love reading the wonderful success stories, we need to know when humans are failing so we can help pick up the slack!

  6. Valerie

    So glad to see them doing well. Now for the rest of the herd. I’ve been following Fox Hill Farm. They went over there to make sure the horses were getting help. I believe they said that the foal was actually a yearling who had never been weaned. He was of good weight but his mama struggled to walk up the lane from the barn to the trailer. She was in poor condition. I saw the video. Thanks for the update on the ones rescued!

  7. Karen Kusey

    In my eyes, he is still her foal, even if he is a yearling,

  8. Cheri

    I hope the Zayat’s continue their class act and extend assistance to Z Camelot. I bet they would of they were made aware.

    1. Zig Pope

      They are aware, as Justin Zayat was Tweeting about it before the horses were finally released.

      1. Christa

        Tweeting is not stepping up and providing assistance. Has Zayat honored his pledge to the Turf Writers yet?

  9. Fran

    Just a correction – it was not a foal that went to TRF. It was a yearling that had never been weaned from its mother. Great to see Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) and TRF taking the lead in this tragic situation. Sadly we are seeing way too many cases like this. Legalities by state prohibit help from getting there quickly. We need to change the laws to provide immediate care for these animals, don’t you think? #prayforthehorses

    1. Susan Salk

      Fran, I’ll look into that. But, as of last night the little sweetie was being called a foal not a weanling. But I will double check. Thanks for reading and commenting and praying.

    2. Susan Salk

      Hey Fran, I double checked, and in the commotion of taking in the horses and answering press calls, the detail of foal/unweaned yearling was stated as foal. Thanks for checking in and letting me know. 🙂

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