How a claimer ‘Baby’ inspires OTTB rescue

Angie Francart of Sleeping Fox Farm events Baby, the horse she raised

Angie Francart of Sleeping Fox Farm events Baby, the horse she raised

On the night before Baby’s last race, Angie Francart’s mind did a gallop of its own.

Her mother had already warned her that when they arrived at Charles Town Racetrack they would do their best to get the filly back, but there were “no guarantees.

“It was difficult not to run to the gate and just grab her halter and yank her back,” Francart recalls.

Instead they snuck in.

Francart, her husband Gary, and her mother and father hid in the shadows, surreptitiously waiting their chance to lay a claim on a delicate filly, named Just Telling You, who had been foaled by their family, and for whom Francart “cried like a baby” on the day she left the farm to become a racehorse.

Race name: Just Telling You
Nickname: Baby
Sire: Civilisation
Dam: Felicity Miss
Foal date: April 16, 2004
“My father watched the racing form for several months until he saw her entered in another claiming race,” she says. “When he finally found her, my parents called me and told me they were going to the races the next day. When I asked why, my Dad said, ‘Because I found her.’ ”

Waiting until the last possible second before post time, her father posted the claiming money, and when the dark bay racehorse with white blaze finished a dismal but wonderful 7th, they had the horse they called Baby, back.

“The day she arrived back at our farm, I called my husband at work and said, ‘Guess who just came down the driveway?’ It was so exciting to watch her come off the trailer. I know she knew she was back home. I could see it in her eyes—she remembered.”

Returning to Sleeping Fox Farm in Martinsburg, W. Va., after being away just a few years and with 19 starts under her belt, all could see that Baby, was different. Meanness had set in. Her coat was dull. And she charged at people, mostly men, who tried to approach her stall.

As Francart set about soothing the horse so clearly fried from her years on the track, and attending to her medical treatments for multiple ulcers, the horse lover and equestrian, who by day worked as a surgical nurse, and later, a director at a medical facility in Virginia, started to map out a plan to minister to more horses in need.

Baby is actually finicky about getting herself dirty, but a good romp in the snow is okay!

Baby is actually finicky about getting herself dirty, but a good romp in the snow is okay!

More “Babys” of the racing industry who needed a clear-headed and kind nursemaid to see them into permanent retirement, or new careers.

“When we got Baby back, both my husband and I realized that so many Thoroughbreds have bad experiences, and are not lucky enough to have an entire family looking out for them,” she says. “We knew we could, and had, to make a difference.”

After trying their hand at horse breeding early on at Sleeping Fox Farm, the couple decided after successful pairings between Warmbloods and Thoroughbreds, that they wanted to focus on helping horses who were already here: Horses in need soon started finding their way to their farm, and it wasn’t long before their dark bay poster child had company.

When the couple’s hay supplier discovered two abandoned Thoroughbreds, he called the Francarts, and the couple took them in. When word got out around Charles Town Racetrack, more calls came in, and with them, more horses.

Today, with 19 Thoroughbreds in the herd, Francart and her husband are establishing the farm as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, which will provide sanctuary for the hard-luck horses, and re-training and adoption for the suitable candidates.

Angie, with another farm favorite, says this photo sums up where her heart is

Angie, with another farm favorite, says this photo sums up where her heart is

“Our plan is to try not to be selective about the horses we take in,” she says. “Although we’re full right now, our goal is to help out the OTTB community by providing a sanctuary and re-homing organization.

“We’ve taken in some really sad, sad cases. But, they all need someone.”

As for her special dark bay Thoroughbred with roan flecks of color in her coat, Baby is living the life now.

After regaining her personality and fitness, she evented for a time with Francart, but is mostly the family pet. Little is asked of her, and she returns the favor by following her mistress around the barn, free of a halter or bridle, keeping an eye out for a stray piece of hay.

And Francart is so glad to have Baby back.

“After she settled into the farm, I felt like she gave me a look that said, ‘What the hell did you guys do to me?’ ” Francart says. “She’s the reason we got started in this. Every Thoroughbred we help is another horse that has gotten a second chance like Baby got.”

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15 responses to “How a claimer ‘Baby’ inspires OTTB rescue”

  1. Angie Francart

    Thank you again everyone for your kind words and support. We are so happy to be able to do the work we do. Please learn more about us by visiting our website and liking us on Facebook.

    Thanks again Susan.

    Angie Francart

  2. Pam

    Made me cry! God bless you.

  3. Jan

    How fortunate that your Father cared so much about you, that he found your ” long lost” Baby. The photo of you romping through the snow is heartwarming to say the least.
    To those of us who work so hard to get these horses off thd track safe and sound, a big thank you for saving him and giving him his heart back.

  4. Leslie DeMerville

    Sleeping Fox Farm continues their tireless, albeit outstanding rescue/rehab efforts for Off-The-Track-Thoroughbred horses. I personally applaud Angie Francart, their Founder and her entire team for their continued dedication and hard work. Keep up the good work; our OTTB’s need all of you at Sleeping Fox Farm.

    I highly encourage and personally recommend Sleeping Fox Farm to any Equestrian who is looking for a TB horse whether it’s for: jumping, equitation, fox hunting, cross-country, hunter division, or trail riding. Call Angie today; her TB’s are typey, scopey, and several are 10+ movers~

    Leslie DeMerville
    CT State Equestrian Champion

  5. Annette Murphy

    We have been breeding TB’s for several years but are very careful whom we sell them to and talk to them about their after racing careers.
    We keep up with most of our homebreds.

  6. Lisa Melone

    What a wonderful story–so happy for Baby and her family. Wish all stories could end like this for all OTTB’s. This makes me want to go hug my horses.

  7. Carla

    Bless you, bless you!

  8. Susan Crane-Sundell

    Thank you for sharing this story. It was such a monumental occasion that Baby was able to be claimed back. It was her very lucky day to finish lucky 7th. I’m sure she is queen of the farm and sets the tone for all the other fortunate residents.

    Thank you Sleeping Fox Farm for doing right by your horses and saving so many other OTTBs that need a great home!

  9. Angie

    Thank you Susan and everyone for the continued inspirations and support for the work we do. Baby (Just Telling You) started this whole process and we are glad she did – she really opened our eyes. She is a bit spoiled now but that’s ok with us. We are so happy to be able to do the work we do and we hope our non-profit status will help us continue. Thank you everyone for your kind words and thank you Susan for the wonderful story about me, Baby, and our farm.

    Sincerely, Sleeping Fox Farm Thoroughbred Rescue 🙂

  10. NLR

    I understand what you mean about affecting a horse’s personality by what is done to the horse at the track. I remember walking the barn one morning and another trainer’s helpers were in the back of the stall with their horse and I could just see that the horse was very uncomfortable with what was being done to him. The help thought it was very amusing. That picture has stayed with me for years.

  11. Delrene

    What a happy ending and great story about Baby and the other fortunate horses who have found their way to this farm.
    Thank you for what you do.

  12. Cynthia

    I love your story. Thank you so much for doing what you do!

  13. Kristi

    Love this! Love to hear stories like this of people helping OTTB’s 🙂

  14. R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc.

    So glad Just Telling You aka Baby was able to be brought back to where she was born and was never forgotten by her original connections. So many thoroughbreds never get that chance. She is one of the lucky ones. Love and compassion can work miracles.

  15. TBDancer

    So right about some horses not having the “fire in the belly” for racing but who are mistreated by those who want to spend as little TIME as possible while earning as much MONEY as necessary. Rushing, pushing, prodding, poking and HURRYING horses that really want to do nothing but PLEASE their peeps … but who aren’t sure exactly of what is being asked of them. I got one like that, and he’s a treasure. Had him 15 years now and everyone who works with or around him compliments me on what a good fellow he is. We need more places to nurture and rehab gentle souls like Baby. Another good story, Susan.

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