Rescued racehorse goes to jock who loved him

Handsomely in his race days. Photo courtesy Cassandra Buckley

Handsomely in his race days. Photo courtesy Cassandra Buckley

No sooner had the dusty black Thoroughbred landed at the Texas livestock auction Sept. 18, his old friends came running to help.

Within 24-hours, Handsomely was identified by his lip tattoo, and rescued with the help of a jockey who won her first race on the good-looking fella, and a past trainer who once pinned his hopes and aspirations on the fine figure of a horse.

“In no time, I had enough money to buy him, pay for his quarantine and his feed,” says Donna Keen, of Remember Me Rescue of Texas. She notes that she was once again touched by the speed with which good people in the horseracing world circled the wagons for one of their own.

“When we find a horse like that in trouble, thank God we have this really great support system,” Keen adds.

When Jockey Cassandra Buckley Naupac saw Keen’s Facebook notification that an OTTB named Handsomely had turned up at a livestock auction, her heart jumped into her throat. “I got a hold of Donna and asked if this was the Handsomely, and told her if he was, that he was the horse I won my first race on.”

New name: Handsomely Ever After
Sire: Mayakovsky
Dam: Raging Dancer
Foal date: May 22, 2005
Quickly reaching out to the horse’s past connections, she was first in line to offer to adopt the horse who brought her the victory she remembers like it was yesterday.

“I remember every detail of that day,” Naupac says. “We were at Louisiana Downs, and it was the 4th of July 2010. Handsomely was my third racehorse.

“He was going really well, but by the 1/8th pole I thought I’m going to run second. There was a horse on my outside, and I didn’t want to go to the crop because I was afraid I was going to drop it, so I just yelled, ‘Come on Handsomely, come on!’ They could probably hear me in the stands.”

It was victory by a nose!

And last week, Naupac triumphed again. Keen, who facilitated Handsomely’s rescue to her Texas racehorse haven, gave Naupac the good news over the weekend: her adoption request had been approved, and the horse would be Naupac’s.

“I truly think it was fate!” Naupac says. “I think certain situations for me didn’t pan out this summer in order for me to be available to take him.”

Handsomely was spotted last week at an auction in Texas

Handsomely was spotted last week at an auction in Texas

She adds that Handsomely is “incredibly lucky” he was discovered: “I feel like it’s a blessing, and that we were meant to find each other again!”

As she arranges transport from Texas to a barn outside of Louisville, Ky., Naupac has created a blog and a Facebook page in honor of the horse she will rename Handsomely Ever After.

Although Keen was never short on offers—the horse’s breeder also offered to adopt him, and approximately 20 horsemen donated funds to rescue and care for the animal —Keen says it seems fitting to send the horse back to a jockey who remembers him so well.

“Cassandra recently had a son in January, and she was thinking that it would be nice to give him riding lessons on the horse she won her first race on,” Keen says, noting that Handsomely and the 25-year-old rider’s life seemed to have come full circle.

20 responses to “Rescued racehorse goes to jock who loved him”

  1. Salky Pool

    This sick kill buyer business has to be stopped.
    Horses are not humanly treated and the pregnant mares in the hands of these monsters is the saddest thing to see.

  2. Holly McCullars

    Looks like the sale barn in Cleburne. Lots of good horses going through there weekly. While I do believe in horse slaughter because in some cases it is more humane than leaving horses to slowly starve to death because owners no longer want them or can no longer afford them it’s nice to hear of a very happy ending for Handsomely.

  3. Kitty

    I’m so glad this awesome horse was saved. It breaks my heart to think of all the ones who weren’t saved and were cruelly and inhumanely slaughtered. Please everybody, fight for the SAFE act to prevent horse slaughter and transport to Canada and Mexico (or any country) for slaughter.

  4. Jon

    Some people do not understand the love of Thoroughbreds that those of us who are around them have. There is always the favorites and those you never forget. Cassandra remembered the horse that did something fantastic for her. She in turn did something fantastic for him. Some will never understand our love for horses. Well done Cassandra.

  5. Otherlyn

    Wouldn’t it be great, if EVERY Thoroughbred ever born…or at leat ever registered, would be responsively offored to all of the people who have been graced by them?…If, the Jockey Club would mandate that the last owner, HAS to find and offer ownership to the breeder, the jockeys, and any previous owners, before putting them in a feed lot. Better yet…There should be a mandated scenario of ALL Jockey Club registered Throughbreds to receive an updatable micro-chip (with the breeder, and owner’s contact information); to receive an initial dose of BUTE; and to get a universally recognized freeze brand on the right shoulder(perhaps it could be a capilol “B” inside of a heart). The microchip would also have a record of a pre-poaid vetenarian-administered euthanasia. The cost, would be covered by an additional fee for registering the horse. Half of the fee would be paid by the breeder/seller, and half by the owner/purchaser. Then, at every subsequent buy/sell exchange of the horse, the new owner’s information would be added, making the last owner, responsible for the horse. The breeder, would, as well always share responsibility for taking the horse (that THEY bred), to a gentle, and peaceful end. The cost of this exchange would also be covered, half-and-half, by the seller and the buyer. That will ensure that the new owner’s information DOES get transferred to the tracable chip.

    Sush a program would GREATLY reduce the bumber of TBs going to slaughter. The BUTE would make the horse, forever unsutable for meat. The freeze brand would show to ALL that the horse has indeed had BUTE, and is thus worthless to killer buyers who sell to the meat man. Any Thoroughbred wearing the brand would be considered a valued, and prized individual.

    RACING FANS would Love this! The p[rogram could be promoted by the Racing Media, and on all of the Network broadcasted races. It would be a wonderful promo for the Sport.

    The brand would also be a mark of prestige, and soon, the owners of any horse on the who is NOT wearing one would be shunned by the racing community and the FANS.;

    This is a doable dream! All it takes is DOING it! WIN! WIN! FOR THE HORSES.

    1. Mary Beth Weber

      GREAT IDEA!!!!

  6. judye michaels

    We should, all, work together to get the SAFE Act passed so NO horse will face slaughter for human consumption in Europe or Asia!

  7. Jsmith

    So happy for Handsomely and all concerned. Wonderful to know that so many were ready to step up for him. If only this were the case for all. Those who do nothing should be ashamed of themselves.

  8. Kristi

    The program is called Thoroughbred Connect.

    You can enter in horses you own and messages can be forwarded to you from people who are interested in adopting or buying a specific horse. You can also send messages to people who have a horse that you’d like to obtain. The site is very basic and there is a lot of room for improvement, but it is a start nonetheless. For example, I had someone contact me about a horse I own although he’s not for sale. The site needs more info for details, and also more publicity since most TB owners don’t even know it is out there.

  9. Jon

    Maybe because many people do not know about this resource on both sides of the OTTB retirement and re homing issue. I am very involved with OTTB’s and have never heard of it.

  10. Kristi

    Glad he was saved, but I so wish these horses would be intercepted before they end up with the killers.

    A few years ago the jockey club started a database on their website for people to offer a home to specific horses that are retired from racing. It seems like few people use it. Maybe that could be a topic for an upcoming post???

  11. Cynthia Callaway Erke

    What an AMAZING story! God bless everyone involved in getting those two, horse and rider, back together again. Just love “happily ever afters.” I hope that those will continue to happen, and we will see an END to horses showing up in the livestock auctions!

  12. Maureen Davis

    What a great happy ending story this is! I hope Handsomely & Cassandra live happily ever after – they both deserve it!

  13. Linda Pavey

    Great rescue by all the connections and volunteers! Handsomely is indeed a very lucky horse!

  14. Linda Brown

    More of us need to step up when we see a TB in trouble. So many are unwanted and end up at slaughter (70% of racehorses go to slaughter-such a sad statistic). Handsomely was lucky indeed.

    TBs are very versatile. Our TB mare rides trail, the beach, the mountains, and performs in western and traditional dressage shows. Out older TB gelding (Water Czar)is ridden by a 14 year old girl and he is one heck of a good and gentle boy. He found himself on a feedlot outside Del Mar, CA, after his race career ended. No breeder stepped up for him (Harris Farms) but we rescued him even though he had obvious ringbone.

  15. Liza G. Fly

    God Bless Donna and Dallas and Vicki and all the other warriors and angels who show up tho help our beloved Thoroughbreds. What a lovely ending to this story.

  16. NLR

    This was being at the right place at the right time. How do you spot these horses at the auction sites? What makes you zero in on a particular horse?

    1. Kristi

      Thoroughbreds have a distinct look to them, especially when they are in a lot full of other breeds of horses. In particular, they have a look in their eye that shows they are fighters. If in doubt, a quick flip of the lip usually reveals a tattoo. Some things that stand out to me are refined head, prominent withers, racing plates, short thick mane, size and musculature, etc. Of course there are exceptions to the rule…

    2. Vicki Morgan

      We usually have someone there flipping lips. In the case of Handsomely, an out of the blue voice mail on my phone (from the girlfriend of one of the biggest KB’s in the state) which gave a description of the horse down to what pen he could be found in at that auction led us to Handsomely. I will more than likely never receive another phone call from that person, but it was the most important phone call in the world for sweet Handsomely.

  17. Vicki Morgan

    Handsomely left RMR yesterday morning headed to a friends Horse Hilton in Louisiana to finish his quarantine. The first weekend in October, Handsomely’s breeder, Elaine Carroll and Lora Pitre of Peach Lane Farms will deliver Handsomely to his forever home in Kentucky with Cassandra and her family at no charge.

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