When Hotstufanthensome limped off the van at New Vocations, his legs were “a mess.”
“He could barely walk,” recalls former New Vocations trainer Lisa Molloy. “We had him X-rayed and we found factures in his front leg and a big hole in his suspensory branch.”
But what no amount of medical testing could show that day, two years ago, or during his subsequent four months of stall rest and six months of rehab at New Vocations, was how the pint-sized racehorse would eventually charm people into looking out for his welfare, even after it first appeared he had no hope.
Initially, nobody stepped forward to help, Molloy recalls.
“As soon as people realized he couldn’t be a riding horse” due to injuries “nobody wanted him. Nobody was interested in taking him,” she says.
But Hot Stuff, as he is nicknamed, had generated a lot of Internet buzz; he’d won more than $700,000 on the track, hitting the board 25 times in 45 starts, and Thoroughbred advocates jammed Molloy’s phone lines, making inquiries about the horse.
“Before I got him, there was gossip on the Internet that maybe he’d gone to slaughter,” Molloy says. “People were in a frenzy to find him, and I started getting these phone calls from people asking me, ‘Where’s the horse?’
Race name: Hotstufanthensome
Sire: Awesome Again
Dam: Don’t Read My Lips
Foal date: Jan. 30, 2000
Earnings: $756,743“A lot of people made a big fuss about him, but when push came to shove, nobody wanted him.”
That’s when Erin Chase Pfister, manager at Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue in New York, stepped forward.
Although her Thoroughbred facility had no connection to Hot Stuff, or any in his lineage, the organization’s founder, John Hettinger, was a deeply principled horse owner who generously made room for unwanted ex-racehorses on his 1,000-acre farm. Before his death, he worked tirelessly to end horse slaughter, and fulfill Akindale’s mission as a “safe haven” for horses.
So, when Pfister learned that Hot Stuff needed a soft landing, she did what Hettinger would have wanted: she took the horse, and offered to keep him in comfort for as long as necessary.
“We promised them he could stay here forever,” Pfister says. “We got him in February, about a year-and-a-half ago.”
Soon after he arrived, a person stepped forward to offer full sponsorship of the horse. A woman (not identified for this article) generously offered to pay the racehorse’s annual expenses, Pfister says.
“It’s rare that someone offers full sponsorship,” says Pfister, noting that this month, another person who followed Hot Stuff’s career, is visiting the facility to take a look at the horse, and she hopes, make a small contribution toward his care.
When Pfister describes Hot Stuff, she has to laugh: He’s a feisty package.
“He’s Mr. Personality, and he’s so pretty, and he’s the smallest thing,” she says. “He would race today if his body would let him.”
Not forgotten after all, Hot Stuff contents himself to roaming the rolling green fields of Akindale, and playfully “terrorizing” other horses.
Says Pfister, “He’ll never be adopted.”