All hands on deck to help Suffolk T-breds

Golden Heartland is among the hunky T-breds listed for sale at Suffolk Downs. All sale horses may be seen on CANTER New England's Trainer Listings.

Golden Heartland is among the hunky T-breds listed for sale at Suffolk Downs. All sale horses may be seen on CANTER New England’s Trainer Listings.

An outpouring of help from horsemen, volunteers and businesses has coalesced into “a remarkable hands on effort” to help ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds in the somber waning days of the Suffolk Downs racetrack.

So says Dawn Carey Kirlin, CANTER New England board member, who along with Kim Rigolini and many other CANTER volunteers, is working hard to make sure racehorses have some place to go when the track closes Oct. 4.

An Open House set for Saturday, Sept. 27 has attracted the support of businesses such as Dover Saddlery and Poulin Grain of Vermont, as well horse shippers, who will stand at the ready to help transport the lucky animals.

“Basically, everybody is trying to do everything they can to help,” Kirlin says.

Since the closure of the 79-year-old struggling racetrack was announced a week ago, the number of horses listed for sale has continued to grow, Kirlin says. Though horses are selling to new homes at a brisk pace, new horses are being added on almost as quickly as others are being sold, she explains.

“We still have over 100 horses listed for sale,” she says. “But, we’re also selling quickly. Last weekend we sold 20.”

Rich Hero, pictured, and Soccer Goalie will travel together this week to ReRun, Inc., in Virginia where Lisa Molloy has welcomed them into her re-training program.

Rich Hero, pictured, and Soccer Goalie will travel together this week to ReRun, Inc., in Virginia where Lisa Molloy has welcomed them into her re-training program.

Because of the heightened activity, it has been a challenge to update the CANTER New England Trainer Listings page, she says, noting that a horse may sell before that information is updated on the horse’s advertisement on the sale page.

As news has spread about the track’s imminent closure, other Thoroughbred organizations have reached out to help.

Lisa Molloy of ReRun, Inc., of Virginia, contacted Thoroughbred advocate Lorita Lindemann and agreed to take two horses: Rich Hero, who has earned $250,000 in lifetime starts, and Soccer Goalie.

Molloy explains, “I had a gentleman looking for a very specific type of horse, and I contacted Lorita to see if there was such a horse at Suffolk. I happened to mention to her that due to the high number of adoptions we’ve had lately, I’d be willing to take a horse or two. That’s when she told me about Rich Hero, and that he was in dire need of a home. I agreed to take him, and then we adopted another horse, so I called her and told her we had another stall open up, so to put someone on the van with Rich Hero. And that’s how we got Soccer Goalie.”

Lorita notes that another Thoroughbred is en route to a good home in New Hampshire, to live with a family involved with 4H.

Mrsmargie is a 5-year-old, 16.1-hand mare currently looking for a new owner at Suffolk Downs.

Mrsmargie is a 5-year-old, 16.1-hand mare who has just found a new home.

As incentives to prospective buyers, both Dover Saddlery and Poulin Grain have sweetened the pot. Dover Saddlery has donated “starter kits,” which include items such as lead ropes, halters and other goodies to be given to new owners. And Poulin Grain is giving out valuable grain coupons to new owners.

As efforts to re-home horses move into high gear, Kirlin notes the track has been very supportive, opening up its backside, and allowing free access for CANTER volunteers to take new horse listings. “We have someone out there now taking a listing for a horse who lost an eye in a race,” she says.

While some horses are being moved back to their New England farms, because local stallion farms have seen their business prospects evaporate with the loss of Suffolk Downs —there’s no further need for Mass bred horses, Kirlin explains. Those breeders and owners will likely have to recalculate their future plans for the horses they own.

For more information about available horses, please visit CANTER New England’s Trainer Listings, or this CANTER file of horses and Open House information, and consider attending the Open House at Suffolk Downs this Saturday. ♥

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13 responses to “All hands on deck to help Suffolk T-breds”

  1. Delrene Sims from Carlsbad, Ca

    I live in California and have bought a few items through Dover Saddlery. What great people… Poulin Grain too, offering these incentives. . Good luck with all these horses. It is always so sad to see a racetrack close. When I was at Hollywood Park on the 2nd to last day, I really cried my eyes out. Just such a shame.
    I hope they all go to great homes. Sounds like it has been really positive so far.

  2. Jon

    If I was not 6 hours away from Suffolk I would help ship horses to their new homes. I wish I could help, but distance makes it very hard to do.

  3. Lisa Melone

    I have no money to donate, but would love to help out in some manner. I hope all find homes soon–I’ll miss not looking at CANTER NE’s trainer listings every year… a sad day for Massachusetts, as I wrote in my blog. 🙁

  4. Canter Michigan

    We can help these horses even if we can’t adopt one. To make it easy to donate to CANTER New England and help them in their work to find homes for all these Thoroughbreds, you can go to and click on the Donate Button. Follow the prompts to make your donation.

  5. Emma Brady

    I’m wondering if Dover’s offer extends to horses bought from Suffolk trainers unrelated to CANTER. Should I contact them directly about that? I’m picking up my little mare tomorrow.

  6. edna

    Wish I could get another horse, but I have two already. A thoroughbred gelding, Elliott, living and working at a therapy program called Lifestriders in Waukesha, WI and a Hanoverian mare, Freda, that I show in hunters and hunter derbies.
    Elliott is totally loved at Lifestriders and with his gentle personality, quickly became one of the favorites.

  7. KWebers

    I hope this is the right listing page. Susan, if it isn’t, it would be great if you could post the correct site address here. Thanks.

  8. KWebers

    Is this the “CANTER file” that you referenced in your blog today, Susan?

    For those who can’t take in one of these Thoroughbreds, CANTER New England (equine rescue) would make good use of any and all donations to them. I believe that CANTER NE is a 501c3 non-profit, so donations will assist them in their work for horse welfare, AND your contribution should be tax-deductible on your 2014 federal income taxes.

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