DNA test reveals ID of seized mystery mare

Hopefully Mine has been identified by Jockey Club DNA testing as Affirmed granddaughter Crowning Glory. She is pictured meeting her new owner, Susie Martell, at the South Florida SPCA last June.

Hopefully Mine has been identified by Jockey Club DNA testing as Affirmed granddaughter Crowning Glory. She is pictured meeting her new owner, Susie Martell, at the South Florida SPCA last June.

A severely emaciated mare seized last June in a sweep by the South Florida SPCA and Miami-Dade Police Department was officially identified through Jockey Club DNA testing last week as Affirmed’s granddaughter, Crowning Glory.

The descendant of the last horse to win the Triple Crown, whose identity had been a mystery up until now, raced 13 times and went on to produce five foals in near succession. Her first foal, Cardiac Output, now a beautiful mare, was discovered starving alongside her mother on the day the police and SPCA swooped in on a property in South Florida.

Crowning Glory
New name: Hopefully Mine
Sire: Caller I.D.
Dam: Crown and Sceptre, by Affirmed
Foal date: March 5, 1996
Police arrested property owner Nivardo Beaton and initially charged him with cruelty to animals, a civil offense. However, criminal charges have also been brought against Beaton, according to Laurie Waggoner, farm manager for the South Florida SPCA.

Bad enough that horses were found in such atrocious condition—a veterinarian rated the herd at between a 1 and 2 on the Henneke Horse Body Score System— but it is even more appalling that a direct descendent to one of racing’s greatest horses should come close to starving to death alongside her first foal, says Susie Martell, an SPCA volunteer who adopted Affirmed’s granddaughter and named her Hopefully Mine.

Martell showers Hope with loving care, promising that the 20-year-old rescue will live out her best days with her.

Martell showers Hope with loving care, promising that the 20-year-old rescue will live out her best days with her.

“When I got the call from Kentucky and learned who she was, and then saw that Affirmed was her grandfather, I said, ‘You have got to be kidding me!’ While I was thrilled to know she had such very good breeding—no wonder she was special, her granddaddy won the last Triple Crown—I don’t understand how this could happen. She was literally starving to death.”

Martell made a connection with the mare right from the beginning, when the skin-and-bones animal walked over to her one day and rested her head against Martell’s chest. After that, the sunburned Thoroughbred made a beeline for Martell every time the elementary school teacher came to the SPCA farm to volunteer.

Shortly after the mare was declared to be on the mend, Martell adopted her. For seven months, the new horse owner had wondered about her mare’s past. Who was she? What was her lineage? Had she ever raced before? Answers finally came when Martell’s friends purchased a DNA kit from the Jockey Club for Martell’s birthday.

Cardiac Output was Hope's first foal, and remains unadopted and available at the South Florida SPCA.

Cardiac Output was Hope’s first foal, and remains unadopted and available at the South Florida SPCA.

Following instructions in the kit, she pulled hair with intact hair follicles from the mare’s mane, neatly affixed them to a special card, and mailed them off to the Jockey Club lab. She also took pictures of her beautiful mare, who has only one small spot of white and a crescent on her forehead.

It took only a few days for the identification to be made. And now that she has the story behind the story, Martell is more determined than ever to make sure the remaining years of this horse’s life are her happiest.

The 20-year-old mare, who Martell guessed to be around 11, is being lightly training in hunt seat.

Martell’s goal is to show her beautiful Thoroughbred in walk/trot classes this summer, and show the world what a sweet horse was plucked from starvation conditions one day last summer.

“She’s such an amazing horse,” Martell says. “It’s just outrageous what happened to her.”

Please see related stories about the seizure of starving Thoroughbreds in South Florida:


30 responses to “DNA test reveals ID of seized mystery mare”

  1. Lois J.Cypert

    Susie Martell,

    There is a place in California called The Gentle Barn, gentlebarn.org is the website address. I wonder if they would give Hope’s mare a home ? The mare would be seen and loved by many that visit there all the time. I understand there is on hands love and care there and just maybe the mare could help a child that is in need of a special mare’s love. The Gentle Barn website would give more info. Just a thought, after seeing the story about The Gentle Barn on TV. Thank you !

    1. Susie

      Thank you so much for the info Lois

  2. Marlaine Meeker

    What happened to the remaining horses and this mare’s daughter? I am just so sick of this happening and change is just not quick enough for so many horses. Much much tougher penalties have to to be enforced.

    1. Susie

      Marlaine….of the 6 thoroughbreds rescued, 1 died the next day leaving 5. Another eventually had to be put down due to here severe injuries. I adopted Hope and another horse Maggie’s Shamrock was fostered and adopted. Hope’s daughter and 1 other from that group I believe, are still at the ranch awaiting adoption. They are listed as Angel and Ashley on our website. We recently picked up several more OTTB’s:( It never seems to end! Hopefully we win win the criminal case against the sick man that did this to Hope and her friends!

  3. Susie

    Couldn’t agree more Elaine and thank-you!

  4. Elaine Nash

    Great story with a happy ending!

    No horse that carries such incredible bloodlines should ever have to experience what this mare went through. But- neither should a poorly bred horse with no famous past or potential for the future. Let’s make it a national goal to get every single at-risk equine into a good home. If we can’t do that for the ones now needing our help, what chance will we have of placing 130,000 a year more when the borders close?

  5. Louise Martin

    I have so many feelings but all I am going to say is thank you Susan Martell! Tears are in my eyes and in my heart! Please someone, if you can adopt her foal that is at the Florida SPCA

    As Susan knows I have an OTTB. Got her 29 years ago..she has taught me about love and life. Again, please someone, save Hope’s baby!

    Thank you as always Susan <3

    1. Susie

      Thank you so much for this wonderful comment and interest. Hope’s daughter is a beautiful mare who like all rescues, deserves a wonderful happy forever home. Keeping my fingers crossed this happens for Cardiac Output:-)

  6. Susie Martell

    To Susan Salk ..,.. Thank you so much for doing this follow up article and for keeping up with this amazing journey Hope and I are on. You sharing our story means the world to me. She and I have been through so much together these past 7 months. Although learning her true identity doesn’t change anything, it does give me more info about her life on the track. The 5 or so year gap, from then to her rescue, is a mystery. How she ended up this way alongside her firstborn is so unsettling! A very sad mystery! Not so much because of her lineage and Affirmed, which was bonus info that was very special, but because no animal deserves to be thrown away and left to starve like she and so many others have. For almost 3 years I have worked with rescues and seen such horrific cases of neglect and abuse. I am so grateful to the South Florida SPCA for the rescue and rehab work they do and for in this case, rescuing my Hope. I hope her daughter finds a home as well! To all who liked and commented on our story… Thank you! I love this girl very very much. Her bloodline doesn’t make her anymore special to me than she was the day I laid eyes on her 9 months ago. But it is still quite special and amazing to know what great bloodlines she has. She is beautiful and special and a survivor. She is 20 and acts like she is 10. She is thriving and healthy after 7 long months of rehab. We have an amazing bond and we are very happy together. Thank you all so much for your interest in our story. It is much appreciated! Our journey continues…

  7. Heidi Graham

    You seldom get the full story in this type of case. How did this man get this mare in the first place? Was it a ‘hatdship’ sale? And why didn’t the previous owners do a back ground check on this guy or a welfare check on the horse? These are but a few of the questions I have and will probably never get answers too. The legal system works so slowly when it comes to animal cases. I know from personal experience. I’m glad that it worked in time for her. It could easily have had a sadder ending. Happy for both the horse and her new owner.

  8. Jody Werner

    My horse, also an OTTB rescue, was found in similar condition – he had been left in a field for a year and not fed. He was rescued just in time. And he was also ‘race horse royalty’ – the grandson of Northern Dancer. I do not know what is the matter with people – who could do that to an animal? He was the kindest-hearted, most amazing creature in the world. I was lucky enough to call him my boy for 20 years.

  9. LL

    Look how elegant both mares looks after some TLC. Sure hope they throw the book at Beaton. In fact maybe that’s what he needs , to be “beaten”!

  10. Jean

    Hopefully Mine is beautiful. I am so glad that this story has a happy ending. I hope that her foal will find a loving forever home just like his Mom. He is beautiful as well. Thank you to everyone who helped Hope and her foal.

  11. Jane Johns

    I agree with Susan. These mares fell into bad hands after their racing and breeding careers. Support any sort of well run rehoming barn in your area, and adopt a horse for yourself, or sponsor one in a facility.

  12. Susan Walsh

    Let’s not take this opportunity to make hostile and unverifiable remarks about the Thoroughbred industry; let’s take this opportunity to be grateful that this story has such a happy ending!

    1. LL

      The trainers I have had try to find homes for horses still in their possession. I won’t say that the smaller groups try to follow former horses but the larger outfits try to add to their fees a fund for following and rehoming.

    2. Emma Brady

      Agreed! I spent five months working weekends at Suffolk Downs in 2014, and I saw both sides. I saw the trainers running horses ragged every week. And I met wonderful men and women who treasured the animals in their care and “employ”, and made sure they were at their best.

      My mare came from an 83-year-old man who loved her – even though she made a total of $549 that season – and turned down several offers from breeding farms because he knew that she would be safe and cherished with me for the rest of her life. Not all race owners and trainers are cruel people with “throwaway” mentalities; I would say that the majority are not. These animals are their livelihood, and most of the trainers I met take exceptional care of them. Most of the TBs I’ve seen that need rescuing did not come straight from the track; they came from people who got them off the track from well-meaning trainers, and just didn’t know how to handle them!

      1. Ann Marini

        Approximately 20,000 Thoroughbreds are slaughtered every year.

  13. donna portree

    That is such a sad story but it has a happy ending – I am just reading “Duel for the Crown: Affirmed, Alydar, and Racing’s Greatest Rivalry” by Linda Carrol & David Rosner that I got for Christmas.. Beaton should have treasured that mare instead of letting her almost starve….Donna

  14. Michelle Y.

    Congratulations Susie on finding out who your mystery mare is! What a wonderful surprise to find out her lineage. It is sickening how these majestic horses end up. My rescued OTTB mare has a forever home with me too.

    1. Susie

      Thank you! The years from the track to her rescue are a mystery . But all that matters now is that she is safe, happy and healthy. I wish the same for her daughter. Hope is an amazing horse and I am so happy we found each other

  15. Fern Blair Hart

    I am not surprised at this at all and am happy the mares were taken out of the swamp and given the soft landing they (and all horses) deserve. I am also glad the man who owned the property was arrested for neglect but I am taking it one step backwards. Who were the owners before the neglectful landowner – that is the connection I am interested in. That is where the disconnect happened – from being a broodmare who foaled five foals and being taken care of to being thrown out and landing in the hands of a person who clearly did not care for them. Curious why this was left out.

    Kudos for the adopter – wishing many many years of safe life for both mares.

    1. LL

      I’m with you!!!!!

    2. Heidi Graham

      Hardly ever get the full story in this type of case.
      I’m glad that they were rescued in time. I know how slow the legal system works regarding animals from personal experience. It could easily have had a different ending

  16. Sally Davis

    Until the breeders start voluntary reducing their herds, the problem will continue on a large scale. Most breeders for the Tbred industry are older than 60 (I made up that stat but I would expect that to be confirmed). Do they have estate plans in place on what to do if they get old, sick or with Alzheimer’s? Will it keep going like rescues of late where the family puts the horses in back pastures to starve to death. Keep sending them to Mexico for unsafe/tainted meat slaughter from wormers?

    No one cares about a solution.

  17. mich

    No,welcome to the world of neglectful and ignorant people who think they can meet the needs of a Thoroughbred

    1. Beverly

      Mich, that’s it in a nutshell. This mare was not starved on the track … she was starved by some twit named Nivardo Beaton – who actually has a ‘ranch’ in Miami Dade that’s still operating … however, justice takes it’s time … and so does karma … https://www.facebook.com/nbeaton777/posts/1086471171368190?pnref=story

      1. Jeanne

        No she was not starved on the track but when she was not useful to the owner she was sold and wasn’t even bothered to make sure she went to a good home. Only thing that matters to racing people is money. Using a animal to make a living is not illegal but is so morally wrong. It being legal dose not make it right to do.

    2. Cathy

      Jeanne,,you don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about,,,My husband was a TB racehorse trainer and the horses on and off the track lived better than a lot of people do,,,They run because that is what horses do,,,they run in herds in the wild also,,each one wanting to take the lead,,,99.9% of retired racehorses never end up in hands like this mare did,,,we had a child found in peoples apartment in the same shape as this horse,,,no more babies allowed?

  18. dina

    Welcome to the world of Thoroughbred racing!

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