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 horse racing 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 at an auction in Texas

Handsomely was spotted 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 aFacebook 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.

Author’s note—This story was originally published on Sept. 23, 2013.

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

  1. cheri vaughan


  2. Saturday Links from Tipperary | Eventing Nation - Three-Day Eventing News, Results, Videos, and Commentary

    […] Check out a great story about a racehorse who returned to his former jockey. […]

  3. Wendy Sibley

    That was the first time I had been to a horse auction in my adult life when we went to search for and find Handsomely. To see those slaughter buyers with their big rigs waiting to bid on these beautiful horses was horrible to say the least. Donna Keen made it happen once again!

  4. sue

    You can see how happy Handsomely is by the look on his face. He knows where he is going and who the person is that cares enough to take him to a better place. Bless you Donna and Cassandra for this kind act of love. May people see this so more horses will get adopted. Wish the Race Track would set up a fund for these retired horses so they would be cared for before they could be adopted. The West Ark Greyhound Race Track gives the retired Greyhounds to the Adoption Center so they can get the dogs ready for adoption. We got our 3 Greyhounds from them. Glad Handsomely Ever Afer will have another “jockey” to teach the ropes to!!!

  5. Sue

    Terrific that these connections stepped up for Handsomely. The TBs whose connections don’t care are the ones that worry me. Then “the public” needs to step up!

  6. Kelly Bennett

    What a happy and deserving “finish” for this boy!! My hubby and I live near Fort Erie and have taken in/rehabbed/rehomed over 150 ottbs and have saved several from the meat auction in Kitchener Ontario..they are the most willing, beautiful, athletic and deserving creatures! I applaud any rescues that pull these horses from what would be a horrible fate!! They deserve so much better for everything they give..thank you!!!

  7. penny zielstorf

    I am crying for joy, this is how it should always end. Not one of them not even the sick and old should ever end up in a slaughter house.

  8. diane strack

    Thank you Donna and Cassandra for rescuing this very handsome boy! I still don’t understand how a relatively young horse races on 8/31/13 and winds up at a livestock auction on 9/18/13.

  9. Laureen Godin

    Absolutely fantastic!!

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

    So glad Handsomely was rescued and now has a great home. Great job Donna and Remember Me Rescue…

  11. Jeanette Jordan

    So happy that Handsome got the soft landing he deserves. I also have an OTTB that fell through the cracks and ended up in dire circumstances. She makes me happy every day…….

  12. Cindy Crank

    Lovely story..don’t you wish they all had happy endings like this horse!

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