‘We’ll do whatever they need’ for 100 Suffolk TBs

License to Cary was one of many very nice horses to sell at the Suffolk Showcase Sept. 7. There are 100 others who need homes.

License to Cary was one of many very nice horses to sell at the Suffolk Showcase Sept. 7. There are 100 others who need homes.

Struggling East Boston racetrack Suffolk Downs, which announced Tuesday it would shutter its doors forever after losing its bid for a business-sustaining casino license, has offered to assist horse charity CANTER New England members with “whatever they need” to help 100 Thoroughbreds find new homes.

This includes opening up the backside Sept. 27 so that CANTER may hold an Open House for prospective horse buyers, helping to make it “as easy as possible” for people to leave with a horse, says CANTER board member Dawn Carey Kirlin. (More information on the Open House is expected to be released later today).

Meantime, both Kirlin and Rigolini, expressed deep regret that Suffolk Downs lost its bid for a casino license, and will close after more than 70 years. Both acknowledged the years of successful work re-homing Thoroughbreds would not have been possible without the track’s support of CANTER. “They were the first track in the country to have a no-slaughter policy,” Kirlin says, noting that the track was a pioneer in making that decision.

And that commitment did not end  in the face of the dire news this week.

Suffolk Downs Vice President of Racing Sam Elliott pledged to Kim Rigolini of CANTER New England Tuesday night that finding homes or good situations for the horses would be a priority for the track, Rigolini says.

“Sam Elliott is on board to do whatever it is we need to do to make sure the horses end up in the right place,” Rigolini says. And, fellow CANTER board member Dawn Carey Kirlin echoed her statement.

Says Kirlin, “This is not a panic situation. The horses are not all of a sudden going to get dumped somewhere. These trainers are good trainers.”

Though there is no need to panic, the permanent closure of the historic sports venue does add intensity to the efforts to find new homes and foster barns, says Rigolini.

David Smith demonstrates how cool, calm and collected Uncle Eli is. The T-bred sold at Suffolk Showcase.

David Smith demonstrates how cool, calm and collected Uncle Eli is. The T-bred sold at Suffolk Showcase.

The full board of CANTER New England held a conference call last night to discuss options, and brainstorm. The date for the second Open House was established on Sept. 27 and other incentives to horse buyers, and plans were also made, Kirlin says.

“Our goal right now is to find a home for every single one of these horses on the backside,” Rigolini says. “And I have to add that in all the years I’ve been doing this, the listings I’ve taken are the best we’ve ever taken. We have some really good, quality Thoroughbreds for sale who just didn’t want to be racehorses.”

Dover Saddlery quickly stepped up and is putting together gift kits for people who purchase a horse from Suffolk Downs, she says, adding that support of this nature is greatly appreciated.

Sales stemming from the Sept. 7 Suffolk Showcase, which offered 58 ex-racehorses, have been good, Kirlin says. Horses who found new homes right away include License to Cary, Yankee Swap, Bugsy Lotsy, Think Tank, Everyotherdayhero, Johnny Fields, Uncle Eli and Last Lord. Rigolini adds that some 60 horses have sold, but that 100 others are offered on the CANTER New England Trainer Listing Site.

Bugsy makes a grand entrance at the Suffolk Showcase before selling to a good home.

Bugsy Lotsy makes a grand entrance at the Suffolk Showcase before selling to a good home.

“That number could change by the week. Because of the decision to close, local trainers may want to cut strings” from a horse they would normally layup in the wintertime in preparation for spring racing, she says.

Lorita Lindeman, a longtime trainer and Thoroughbred advocate, adds that Michael Blowen of Old Friends Kentucky has already worked out an agreement with one trainer to make room for horses needing retirement, and is “doing as much as he can” to help.

Lindeman began working at Suffolk Downs after high school. Though she has worked in recent years at Belmont Park, she says Suffolk is home to many horsemen who have brought up their families in Massachusetts, and tended their horse farms here.

“Some of them own homes and don’t have the option to pick up and move,” she says.

So now horsemen will concentrate on helping their horses move on to a better situation. Says Kirlin,”We have a solid plan in place to continue to work to help these trainers transition their horses as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Please check these links to find an available horse: CANTER New England Trainer Listings and CANTER New England Facebook. ♦

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18 responses to “‘We’ll do whatever they need’ for 100 Suffolk TBs”

  1. Emily

    Maybe the race industry should be required to make provisions for these horses they overbreed, abuse, then throw away. How about something as simple as a surcharge at the winners window that provides for the retirement, rehab, and rehoming of these hard keepers who are bred for only one reason…making money. This industry is exploitation of an animal at its max!

  2. Karen

    Will the horses be listed on the CANTER New England website? Keeping my eyes out for a young eventing prospect. My daughter purchased her last one as a not-quite 3 year old from the CANTER KY site. He is amazing doing prelim right now and will do his first 1* in October at the KY Horse Park. OTTBs are the best!

  3. Kim obrienakim

    I see my brother OB in a photo who has been a devoted horse walker, stable boy and many other things. His devotion to Suffolk downs is and was his life for nearly 50 years. Sincerely little OB

  4. Rhonda Lane

    I’ve been absolutely blown away about how fast all this is going down. I’ve been sharing this article on Facebook and Twitter. A Wynn is a Loss.

  5. Ellen O'Brien

    As the founder of CANTER New England I have to say that I have wondered if this day would come…it is sad for those horsemen who will simply not be involved in horse racing going forward.

    That said, there are many, many people mobilizing to help ensure a safe landing for all of these horses-both those connected with the track and those who simply love Thoroughbreds. Many thanks to all of those who have expressed a willingness to help!

    I also wanted to echo the appreciation for Dover’s contribution. License to Cary (pictured in this post,) was actually purchased by someone connected to Dover and over the years they have contributed funds, support and exposure in support of these horses. Steve Day, who runs Dover is a great OTTB enthusiast who has always been a strong advocate for second careers for retiring racers. Personally, I am proud to support a business that makes such a positive contribution to horse welfare!

    As Susan notes, we will have more details on the Open House–and expect to have some fun incentives for those coming out to look for their next prospect. We’ll also be putting out updates about volunteer availability, as we expect that CANTER volunteers will be putting in extra shifts at the track and may be available to help buyers navigate the backside. We’ll also be looking to line up transportation and vetting options for those who are looking to buy so that it is as easy as possible to take one home.

    I’d also love to challenge all of the OTTB lovers out there: will everyone commit to sharing the news about the Suffolk horses with at least 5 fellow horse lovers in the next week? The more word of mouth, the more horses helped!

    1. Ron Logan

      Sincere congrats re. the founding of such a worthy organization, and all your ongoing work on behalf of these wonderful animals.
      Simply hoping they all end up in a caring environment with good people.
      Thank you!!

  6. Meg Kutcher

    Hello, I am interested in contact information for horses that are available.

  7. Lisa Melone

    Gosh, I wish I had the money to take a few more, or at least provide a temporary place for them to stay until permanent buyers are found. So many great horses still available. I’ll miss perusing the Trainer Listings next year–always a fun way to add more horses to my “virtual stable”. A sad day for Massachusetts.

  8. Jon

    Too bad my barn is full. Looks like some very nice horses ready to go onto other careers.

  9. Diane

    I am interested in more info on seeing and possibly getting a few horses. How doin get in direct contact with someone?

  10. Laureen

    These horses are absolutely stunning! God forbid they end up in bad places. Please do everything you can to help all of them!!!

  11. Canter Michigan

    Spread the word. The more people who are aware, the more opportunities to find homes for all these horses! check out Trainer Listings on http://www.canterusa.org/New England.

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

    Suffolk Downs Vice President of Racing Sam Elliot has always been an advocate for the horses at Suffolk Downs and has stepped up many times when horses needed help. He helped a few years ago when our organization discovered a horse that use to race at Suffolk Downs named Hot Shot Brown who was in the hands of a killer buyer. We were able to rescue the horse and eventually adopt him out and he is in a wonderful loving home and even jumping at local horse shows.

  13. Dawn Kirlin

    Thank you Susan as always!

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