In just a few short hours during the annual CANTER New England Suffolk Showcase yesterday, roughly 10 ex-racehorses found new homes, while others moved into strong contention for purchase over the coming days.
Yet, approximately 70 Thoroughbreds still need new homes, and now it’s crunch time.
With the Suffolk Downs racing season ending next month, trainers moving on to warmer-weather tracks cannot afford to take horses who are either underperforming, or cannot run well on other tracks, says Ellen O’Brien, executive of CANTER New England.
She explains: “It costs about $700 to transport a horse to Florida. And many tracks have turf that horses doing well here might not adapt to.
“For example, the Tampa track is hard and cuppy. And the horses there are much more competitive.”
As she talks Sunday morning, she eyes the line of horses dancing in the chilly air at the end of their lead ropes. Passing a somewhat smaller crowd than the 65 in attendance last year, Thoroughbreds walk and trot— some throw in a buck for good measure, while onlookers run a practiced eye over every one.
“I’m here to buy,” says Denise Goyeau. “There are a few horses here I’m interested in, and the this (Showcase) is just a great way to look at a lot of horses all at once.”
Asked what she was looking for, she adds, “A kind eye and a good brain and movement.”
Friend and top eventer Stephie Baer, of Chase Farm, Orange, Mass., also had her eye out. “I bought Frostburg last year, and I renamed him Allied Irish. He’s doing really well,” Baer says.
The beauty of the Showcase, O’Brien says, is that it provides buyers with the opportunity to see many prospects at once. And not only did attendees get a chance to see the horses up
close and personal, but they also listened in as Jessica Paquette, event emcee, asked questions of trainers, and offered personal insights about each prospect. Paquette is the Suffolk Downs publicist and racing analyst.
A photograph and brief history of each horse was compiled in a lengthy information packet by CANTER board member Jennifer Montfort, who also directed the Showcase.
In her blog, http://www.jenmontfort.com, she says the long hours compiling listings and orchestrating the event were well worth it. “The reward will most certainly be in the growing list of horses who find good homes,” she states in her blog.