Eight years had passed since Jay Romig stepped into the same racebarn as his white Thoroughbred who had once run his heart out for him at Penn National.
But time disappeared when Victorious Recall, now a 17-year-old careworn gelding, and Romig, 65, saw each other again a few months back, meeting as old friends after years apart.
“I never thought I’d see him again,” Romig says. “I thought he must be dead.”
But as soon as Romig entered the temporary barn, where Victorious Recall had been taken in by some kindhearted women, renewed vigor seemed to pump up the tired old warrior, who pricked his ears in Romig’s direction, and nickered.
“People in the barn couldn’t believe it. Everyone said they could tell he still knew me.”
Victorious Recall had been Romig’s racehorse for 13 months beginning in 2004, when he and other racehorse owners purchased him. “He never ran worse than fourth”, Romig says with pride.
During those years, Romig got to know the animal’s quirks. A veritable overachiever on the track, he ran with a stride so huge that he would kick and bruise himself with his own hooves if he wasn’t very carefully shoed, Romig recalls.
“You had to shoe him perfectly so he wouldn’t hit himself,” he says. “We used to wrap him and put pads on him to make sure he didn’t do too much damage.”
Foal date: May 3, 1997
Earnings: $248,167 in 111 startsAnd he had the heart of a champion, Romig says, noting that when this horse strode onto the track, he could almost feel him thinking: “You guys aren’t going to beat me!”
After 13 fabulous months with Victorious, the hard-trying horse was eventually claimed away in 2005, and from that point on, Romig never stopped worrying.
“I always kept an eye on him. I didn’t always go to Penn National when he ran, but I tried to keep tabs on him, and we did try to claim him back once,” he says. But several other owners successfully claimed the animal.
Fortune turned again however, when in December 2007, says Romig, “I was approached and asked if I wanted to take him back. I didn’t have the room on my property in Halifax, Pa., I had two with me, and boarded two, but I said I’ll take him and board him somewhere.”
Romig did his best to find Victorious a home. For a number of yeas he was comfortably ensconced with neighbors just a half-mile from Romig’s home, so visits were frequent. “It was great. They took excellent care of him,” he says.
But when his neighbors decided they couldn’t keep Victorious anymore, they found another home for him nearly 50 miles away. And for several months he tried calling the new owner, but got no response, not realizing she had become ill.
Out of desperation he drove to the neighborhood where he thought he might find the pretty white gelding, but the search seemed in vain. He even gave out his phone number in the community and asked people to contact him if they heard anything.
More time passed without a word, but then a phone call came.
“A lady said, ‘Were you looking for Recall?’ And I said, ‘Victorious Recall, yeah, I’m looking for him. Is he dead? And she said, ‘No, we have him!’ ”
The ex-racehorse who had successfully waged 111 starts and earned $248,167, had been taken in by a farm after his last owner died, and while Romig had no idea how he could help, he dashed off to the barn to see his old friend.
But he could help and he did. With the assistance of Thoroughbred welfare organization R.A.C.E. Fund, Romig got his old horse placed with The Exceller Fund, and agreed to pay a portion of Victorious Recall’s upkeep through his retirement years.
Recall arrived at the Exceller Fund’s Missouri property on Nov. 15, and now Romig breathes easily knowing his old friend is in good hands.
“I’m going to pay every month for the rest of his life to take care of him,” he says. “I wish more people would pay for their horse’s retirements. You won’t make as much money, but you can still make it work.”
33 responses to “Owner from his past searches, saves old racer”
Well done! Horses bring a lot of joy, but they aren’t machines, and do wear out eventually. I love hearing about stories like this. Especially about racehorse owners who aren’t horse people, per say (ie compitive riders, have tons of horses etc, basically an ordinary Joe) stepping up to do the right thing. Kudos! And happy landings to Recall.
so good to read this story! i too have bee searching for my OTTB for years. Her name is Deaconess Rose. I trusted the wrong person who refuses to let me know where she went! Some people are just slime! she last raced @ Charles Town and search for her everyday! i can only pray that she is ok and that someday we will meet again….
to bad I cannot find my stolen horses – that were supposed to be boarded at a “rescue” that got closed up for selling stolen and donated horses – have all papers & bills of sale – mares supposedly sent to killers – one went to a “retirement home” someplace but don’t know where – NH state Ag & state vet asked for the record but the owner mary terry /chase of Fitzwilliam nh won’t give them to him. Irs was no help as the non profit had less than a 1 million dollar tax liability – local pd is afraid of the guy who took them without a court order – had no bills of sale, no papers, no board billect – they are listed no netposse.com – happened june 2002 but I have never given up hope – got two returned – one was sold to a girls camp in maine – guy a sex offender – she was put down in 2010 due to cushings – other mare is with me – thanks – love your story – susan miller ameherst nh
Well done Jay and good job R.A.C.E. Fund
Going back to the caregiver who passed away, many “Good Samaritans” have no idea of the importance of leaving detailed information on all of their horses, cats, dogs or other animals with their legal papers!
This woman had 2 horses already at home and was dying of cancer, she knew my neighbor was looking for a home for Recall, she literally begged to have him. We were told by her she was in remission so my neighbor believed her and the horror story began. Then we were told she had a woman who would care for them if she passed, all this time I was calling and getting no answer or no return of the messages I was leaving. I knew she had probably passed.Turned out her ex and her son were left to care for them. (edited)The cousin of her (edited) son spilled the beans at this stable 5 miles away where he worked and they intervened, thank God.
Thank you Mr. Romig and Exceller Fund (who is an excellent organization) for being their for “Recall”. Wish All horse people were as responsible and honorable and ALL horses were as fortunate!
It is difficult but incredibly rewarding to be honorable toward the horses (no matter who they are). They all have so much joy to give!
What a Beautiful story
Lots of goodness involved for Victorious Recall to have been safe from claiming to claiming and then the Exceller Fund. Mr. Romig is a prince for continuing his search and providing for his old friend. Though we hear about the dark side too often, it is heartening to hear stories like this and know that there are good people who love their horses and honor that friendship.
Reading everyone’s comments about my father and Recall has brought tears to my eyes, here at work. It’s so heartwarming to see so many people share the same beliefs and have the same convictions. These horses serve man, and in turn deserve our respect and care when they can no longer perform their duties. My father is my hero, and it’s amazing to see the love you have given with your comments. Thank you, dearly.
Thank you Mr. Romig for doing a great thing for your friend. Another happy ending always brings tears to my eyes.
I consider horse owners so lucky. I only wish I had my own horse. That is why it is so hard for me to understand how easily a horse gets away from an owner. Anyway, it is always great to read these inspiring articles! Viva Victorious Recall!!
Viva Victorious Recall!. Like it.
Loyalty, a heart and sense of duty of what great things that Recall did for Jay. Jay has done the right thing in making sure his old friend has landed softly after so many years apart. Well done!
Thank you for your comment, and I agree that Jay did the right thing. Though he can ill afford to cover 100 percent of this horse’s expenses, he is doing his very best, and throughout the life of this horse, he tried very hard to keep an eye out and make sure the horse had a good home. It’s very sad the horse was given to a lady who passed on, leaving the horse. But he did what he could, and in my opinion, that’s a lot.
And that he is willing to have less for himself so that Recall has proper care. For his friend and his own sense of what is right, he never gave up on him. Now he does what he can every month, it is a glimpse of Jay’s charactor.We need more people with convictions like this.
You are an inspiration and thank you for going the extra mile for your horse. My wish is that some of the larger breeder/owners will take a page from your story and begin to feel some responsibility to their own Thoroughbreds. You found “Victory” out of love and caring and tenacity. It’s good to know that neither you nor he will have to worry any more.
I am so very glad that you were able to find placement with the Exceller Fund and R.A.C.E. It’s great that they honor our ‘Old Warriors’ and look out for their welfare.
this is why I’m so glad to get the story out, if it can just inspire or shame, I couldn’t care less which instance, I just want everybody to do right for the horses, they risk their lives for us , so we can watch them race. We owe them, certainly not the reverse!!!
Well said. And I agree with you.
Thank you Mr. Romig for loving and caring enough about Victorious Recall to make sure he lives out his days the way he deserves. Horse racing needs so many people like you. Recall is beautiful.
Thank you Susan for this blog. It put a smile on my face.
I wish I could have as much luck! I’ve been trying to find one of my horses with no luck since 2012. Her name is Stormy Creek by Tricky Creek out of Untarnished (Silver Buck). She was a broodmare in North/South Carolina and then the owner gave her away. I had asked her to contact me if she ever wanted to find Stormy a new home, but she’d lost my contact information. Wish I knew how to find out whether or not our girl was still around. I’d love to either bring her here or pay for her upkeep as long as she’s alive. I know how much solice it must be for this owner.
It looks like the last registered foal for Stormy Creek was in 2001. Can’t the last person that had her give you the name of the person she gave the horse to? What area of the Carolina’s was she in? Hope you can find her.
Unfortunately, she can’t. She was advertised as a “freebee.” I’m afraid she “won’t” tell because she went somewhere bad. That’s what scares me the most. You try to do the right thing, but the people on the other end have to care.
Where was she listed for free at?
She was listed on a now-defunct listserv that was for North and South Carolina. Since reading this story – and hearing from you – I’ve circled back to the lady who once had and cared for Stormy. She was able to give me an email address for the woman who ran the listserv. I’ve sent her an email to see if she can help in any way. Perhaps she has a mailing list of the participants or has another way of helping me track. My fingers are crossed and my heart is hopeful. I actually have a dear friend with horses in South Carolina who could transport her and take care of her as long as required if she is found.
If only they all could be re-united with someone from their past who loved them.
Bravo, Jay for never giving up and going that extra mile to help Victorious Recall. Glad we could assist with placing him in his permanent retirement home. Thank you Robin and Exceller Fund. Victorious Recall is a warrior.
Kudos to Jay Romig for taking responsibility for his race horse. All breeders, trainers and owners must insure the safety of their horses when they leave the track. They work so hard for us and we owe it to insure their care after their race career.
We can easily insure money is allocated for the care of all ex racehorses; i.e., taking a percent of stallion fees, purse earnings, owner’s awards, etc.
Completely agree Lucy. ALL owners of a horse + breeders need to pay for a horses retirement, not just the person who owns the horse when he retires, that person is the least likely to have the $ to fund a 20 year retirement. Well done to Mr Romig.
Many thanks to RACE FUND and most especially to Jay Romig, who proves that there are owners/trainers out there who really do the right thing. Just wish all of them did. Thanks for posting.
Great story…share far and wide.
Mr Romig you are a hero