A racehorse showcasing impressive bloodlines and a nose-to-the-grindstone work history was plucked last month from an uncertain fate in Puerto Rico and returned to his original breeder, who offered him a lifetime home.
After a 5th-place finish at Camareo racetrack on July 31, New York-bred Swinging At Siro’s concluded his career spanning 87 races and earning over $170,000 with a big question mark dangling over his future. Until that is, his connections there and in the states pulled together to deliver him home.
According to Lucinda Finely of nonprofit charity Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds, and Shelley Blodgett, a Thoroughbred advocate, racehorses in Puerto Rico are routinely euthanized after their racing days end due to a lack of farmland and facilities. But the pair, along with race connections, fans and friends donated a combined $5,500 to transport the dark plain bay back to his breeder, Dr. Douglas Koch of Berkshire Stud, in New York.
Swinging At Siro’s
Sire: Malibu Moon
Dam: Silence Please, by Quiet American
Foal date: Feb. 25, 2007
Results: $177,614 in 87 starts“Someone asked me, ‘Why this horse?’ And my answer was why not this horse? This one had the rare opportunity of surviving racing in Puerto Rico, and had a home waiting for him. Many horses get put down after they’re done racing because they don’t have the land or the resources to take care of them in Puerto Rico,” Finley says.
When Finley was contacted by Thoroughbred advocate Shelley Blodgett about Siro’s need for a soft landing back in the States, Finley got immediately on board. “I said we’d do whatever we can. Swinging At Siro’s started out at NYRA tracks, was very well bred, and a beautiful horse. He’s been a good, consistent, hard-knocking racehorse who fell down the claiming ranks and raced most of his races at Finger Lakes before he wound up in Puerto Rico.”
Working with Blodgett, who had overseen the rescue of several other OTTBs from Puerto Rico, and with Kelley Stobie of Save the Horses in Puerto Rico, Finley spearheaded a fundraiser that netted $5,500 in 10 days. Donors large and small came out of the woodwork offering what they could to bring the one-time barn favorite home.
“Former grooms and trainers would slip me some money and say, ‘Use it for Siro’s,’ and right at the end, when we were near our goal, a former trainer asked how close we were. When I told him we were literally $300 shy, he said, ‘Done!’ ”
Two anonymous donors, including a Thoroughbred charity, also contributed to the fundraising, she added.
But the biggest piece of the puzzle fell into place when Blodgett reached out to Siro’s original breeder and within three hours of sending an email, had a message back promising a lifetime home for Siro’s, where his mother Silence Please still lives at Berkshire Stud.
“I was a little shocked when I reached out to Dr. Douglas Koch and got a message back saying he has a home here,” Blodgett says. “I’d reached out to a lot of people in the process, we cast a super-wide net, but I couldn’t believe it when he got back in touch so fast, with such a resounding answer.”
Swinging At Siro’s recently made the trip to his permanent retirement home at Berkshire Stud, and is in the care of his breeder, who is also a veterinarian.
Says Finley, “Dr. Koch at Berkshire Stud is the real hero here. For a breeder to step up and say I’ll give this horse a forever home, alongside the dam, is just wonderful. And because Dr. Koch is a vet, we know Swinging At Siro’s will get the best care in the world.”
—This blog is sponsored by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, the country’s oldest and largest Thoroughbred charity. Please check out the ways you can help: http://www.trfinc.org/you-can-help/