Many hands helped Coaltown Legend home

Coaltown Legend is hugged by his original breeder and first race owner, Kate Feron.

Coaltown Legend is hugged by his original breeder and first race owner, Kate Feron.

The coal-dark Thoroughbred who had run so many miles and whose body had shrunk around protruding ribs, did not “die in the dirt” as some had feared.

Hope and change prevailed last week instead.

Instead of breaking down in his last race, as was predicted in conversations on social media, 9-year-old Coaltown Legend, an animal whose beauty still shone after years of dogfights and 64 starts, made it home to retire on the New York farm of his birth.

The turning point was a spontaneous appeal by Thoroughbred lover Deb Jones, urging people to pay attention and keep tabs on the horse, schedule soon to run at Penn National. Jones’ plea was first met with a murmur that led to a rumble and eventually grew into a movement to bring the horse off the track and back home to NY.

“(News of Coaltown) was posted on Facebook and Akindale reached out. By Wednesday it was settled and Thursday he was home,” says Akindale Rescue Manager Erin Chase Pfister, who credits the yeoman efforts of the gelding’s past owner Angelo DeFillipis, who worked in tandem with Brooklyn Backstretch writer Teresa Genero to negotiate for the horse’s retirement to Akindale, and to Pennsylvania shipper Althea Roy, who volunteered her time and costs to transport the horse, and to the animal’s original breeder, Akindale trainer Kate Feron.

Coaltown Legend
Sire: Jump Start
Dam: Avril a Portugal
Foal date: May 11, 2005
Earnings: $328, 084, 64 starts
“There were a lot of people involved in this,” adds Pfister, who acknowledged the good that Deb Jones’ Facebook post did to illuminate a situation in which many had privately tried to help, but that only changed when horse lovers on social media began to rally round the striking, dark horse. Coaltown Legend finished fifth at Penn National July 19 after a slow start, and retirement was soon his.

There were many relieved past connections, and tears of joy when tired and weary Coaltown rolled into Akindale on Thursday.

Feron bred Coaltown Legend and named him in honor of her father, a non-horsey accountant who had a funny kind of fixation on the great Hall of Fame horse, Coaltown. She raced Coaltown Legend successfully until he was claimed away from her in 2010. After that, she frequently put out the word that that she would take the horse back to Akindale, no questions asked.

But Coaltown Legend passed from owner to owner, racing his heart out until last week, when he put in a poor run at Penn National. Though the horse was destined to be given to someone else, Coaltown Legend was turned over to representatives after past owner DeFillipis and writer Genero prevailed upon those involved with the horse to allow him to come home.

Coaltown Legend arrives at Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue last Thursday. His breeder and first owner weeps as she takes the lead rope.

Coaltown Legend arrives at Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue last Thursday. His breeder and first owner weeps as she takes the lead rope.

DeFillipis explains: “I told everyone involved that this is a pretty well-known NY bred, that people loved him, and that he needs to be retired. I was pretty thrilled to get the horse released to me.”

And he was also relieved. DeFillipis, who owned the horse at one point, but was forced to sell him during hard financial times, says he kept tabs on Coaltown Legend, and spent a few sleepless nights worrying.

When the underweight racehorse arrived Thursday, Pfister says Coaltown was on edge. “It was as if he was thinking, ‘Now where am I?” she says. But overnight, his attitude changed.

“I think he remembers his home. By morning he was a different horse. It’s like he’s figured out that there’s cookies and hay and he’s going to be fed—he’s in really good spirits.”

As he reached his regal, dark head over the door of his new stall, playing with admirers, he accepted a knowing hug from Feron, who cried when he arrived. “To see him again, I can’t express what it was like,” Feron says. “He always had a special place in my heart. This was my special horse.” ♥

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27 responses to “Many hands helped Coaltown Legend home”

  1. Another Country 2

    Susan, I see the “Grand Standers” should have done more research before making their accusations. Now they are back peddling and quite possibly putting “Tight control on opinions expressed” on this issue in their blog..

  2. Tove Reece

    When will people realize that the fate of most horses forced to race will not have such a happy ending. Horse racing is exploitation pure and simple.

  3. Leslie

    Too bad so few racehorses – standardbreds and thoroughbreds – have angels like the ones that saved Coal…

  4. Patty Hamilton

    This horse is so lucky that he is back where he belongs. Thank you to all that made this happen. Coaltown knows who truly loves him.

  5. Patrick J Battuello

    I see that you tightly control opinions expressed on your site. So be it – I will write my own piece on this feel-good story.

  6. julia

    such a beautiful, regal horse.. may he spend all his days as they should be..

  7. cheri vaughan

    Sweet relief for Coaltown Legend and his loving connections!! YAY!!

  8. Mary-Joe Figueira

    So glad she is home. You wish there could be more of these happy endings.

  9. Terri Griffith

    So happy to see Coaltown Legend is home! Thanks to all who worked tirelessly to make this happen!

  10. Victoria Racimo

    I, too, followed Coaltown Legend’s story – was on pins and needles and big silent hurrahs went up from inside my heart when I read this article. So nice to start the week with a happy ending to a deserving horse — wait a minute, ALL horses are deserving of a good life. Thank you to all who helped orchestrate this boy coming home – all hands on deck were needed and all
    came thru.

  11. LindaVA

    Another great story! Kudos to all involved for getting him retired to a great place.

  12. Angelo DeFilippis

    Laureen they ment claimed not passed along. Glad hes home where he belongs

  13. Jon

    He is very regal. What other things could this horse have done if he was cared for properly and retired to another career at a younger age? But enough of that….he has landed softly at the home of an old friend. They should all be this lucky!

  14. Delrene from Carlsbad, Ca

    Well Done Coaltown Legend. and all those who helped you retire. You are free of the track and now entitled to cookies, lots of spoiling and rest. Wonderful happy ending.

  15. Lisa Melone

    So glad to see Coaltown Legend made it home–tears came to my eyes!

  16. Michelle Y.

    To echo what another poster said, “another good ending for a horse that needed to get off the track and be with his person.” This makes me very happy!!

  17. Anne Streeter

    Beautiful creature!! Wonderful ending to a sad story.

  18. Laureen

    How absolutely ridiculous the life he has lead, passed from owner to owner. What is up with that?? This is disgusting, he was treated like some piece of equipment or thing. I am glad that at least he will be properly looked after now, and has ONE guardian.

  19. Flaco

    Eeeeeeee coaltown is home I send u a big kiss and hug from u ex rider u in a better place now buddy

  20. Gaye Goodwin

    Yes, they are used up by racing! Kudos to the folks who agreed to the terms to let him retire. A lot of hard noses in the business will not do that out of stubborn spite against “do gooders”.

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

    So glad Coaltown Legend is finally home. Bravo!

  22. patricia bewley

    so glad to read this , my brother a ex jockey has said that horseracing is like sending them to war. it is true, they are used up by racing.

  23. edna

    another good ending for a horse that needed to get off the track and be with his person.

  24. Greg Jones

    Bravo to all that got Coaltown Legend home! Yes, it sure does take a village! Also, a investigation should take place into how and why Coaltown Legend was allowed to race in his emaciated condition. Penn National, owner Milton Rodriguez, and trainer Bryan George LET Coaltown Legend race in this condition, both sad and shameful.

  25. jay a romig

    things are as they should be now ,great job all, live long , prosper and enjoy Coaltown Legend

  26. TBDancer

    I followed this story on Facebook. So glad Coaltown Legend is home!!

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