Wearing battle scars sustained far from the glow of horse-racing’s limelight, an older gelding was saved last week from slaughter by the director of racing for a Pennsylvania racetrack, with key assistance from Thoroughbred advocates, who all mobilized to find a soft landing for the forgotten racehorse.
Suffering an ulcerated eye and missing some flesh on the bone, chestnut ex-racehorse Archie’s Echo, 26, a one-time New England racer at the now-defunct Rockingham Park and Suffolk Downs, was saved from the New Holland kill pen by Sam Elliott of Parx Racing, who pulled out his credit card before he even saw the gelding’s photo.
Sire: Palace Music
Dam: Chic Star
Foal date: May 8, 1989Handing the card to Danielle Montgomery of the Parx retirement charity Turning for Home, he said simply, “Pull him.”
And with that directive, and the final go-ahead from her superior, Michael Ballezzi, Montgomery set about saving the old timer from a fate no horse deserves, and securing a layup facility where the T’bred could receive medical attention to address his eye, weight loss, and any other ailments. “His eye is ulcerated and he is blind from some sort of former trauma,” Montgomery says, noting that he was referred to as the “one-eyed horse” when she went to pull him.
As the transaction was completed, and Archie’s Echo was put on a path to freedom, Elliott and some old friends from the New England racing circuit pulled together for the old horse.
Lorita Lindemann, a longtime race trainer and Thoroughbred advocate who, back in the day, worked closely with Elliott on Suffolk Downs’s zero-slaughter racetrack policy, took one look at the old chestnut and immediately recognized one of the first horses she ever groomed when she was just a kid herself, working her first racetrack job at Rockingham Park.
“After Danielle texted me Archie’s picture and I saw the chestnut with white blaze, I remembered him right away, and got goosebumps all up and down my arms,” Lindemann says. “I told her, ‘I used to rub that horse!’ He was one of the first horses I ever rubbed, when I was first starting out at Rockingham. Whether you’re grooming or training, you never forget a horse, and when I saw a picture of him at New Holland, I told her to walk into Sam Elliott’s office and show him.
“I’ve known Sam since I was 10 years old. I knew he’d pull the horse.”
And after the first steps of the effort to save Archie was underway, Lindemann and Elliott turned to a third New England connection, a man who turned his passion for horses into the world-renowned Thoroughbred charity: Old Friends.
Michael Blowen, upon hearing the sad story told by his longtime friends, readily agreed to give a permanent retirement home to the old gentleman.
After Archie’s Echo clears quarantine at a New Jersey layup farm and is deemed fit to travel, he will be loaded into a trailer and taken to his new home to live alongside horseracing greats Game On Dude, winner of 14 graded stakes, and Silver Charm, winner of the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Both superstars were retired to Old Friends by Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert. After Baffert-trained racehorse American Pharoah won the crown jewels of racing in the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes June 6, he donated $50,000 to Old Friends. That funding, says Blowen, made it possible to give a home to Archie’s Echo.
“We just got our check from Mr. Baffert, so we have a little breathing room,” Blowen says. “So when Lorita called to tell me about Archie’s Echo, and though I didn’t remember what he looked like, I remembered his name, and that he used to run night races at Rockingham Park. I said we would take him as soon as he’s fit to travel.”
So instead of taking the long ride to the slaughterhouse, Archie’s Echo, now a little careworn and missing an eye, will live with Game On Dude and Silver Charm. All thanks to some old friends from the New England circuit.
33 responses to “One-eyed T’bred rescued by Parx VP and friends”
So good to hear a long time racer was saved. Their are so really good people left who do this, we praise and bless them for their kindness. Lucky horse
What about the rest?
Kelsey,thanks for your info. Called Old Friends this morning,told maybe a month before Archie gets there.
Thank you to ALL that saved this magnificent horse! this story made me cry… I just sent a donation to Old Friends. (I only wish it could be $50K like the Baffert’s but I know every cent helps!)
Each horse deserves a happy, safe and healthy retirement/life! It is time to end places like New Holland and stop the slaughter pipeline.
I just wrote to my Congressman & Senator a few days ago to vote yes to pass the U.S. H.R. 1942; S. 1214—The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2015.
We love our horse racing and need to protect our horses in all cases!
High hooves and 3 whinnies for Michael and his EXCELLENT team at Old Friends, to Sam, Danielle, Michael, and Lorita, and to Bob, Jill, and Bode Baffert for working together to save Archie’s Echo, who did all he was asked to do and placed his welfare in the hands of his humans. I am visiting Old Friends in October and will look for him. I just bet there will be lots of carrots, love, kisses, and hugs in his future. Love to All,
Mary in Boone
This is a wonderful ending. But it is so sad that he happened to end up at New Holland in any event. Makes me cry. I have had three OTTBs and they were all wonderful.
Judith Ochs, you can bet the people in the picture aren’t the ones who threw him away. At 26, this horse was probably someone’s riding horse……..happens a lot more frequently than people realize.
Sam probably stepped in because the trainer A. Pascuccci just moved into Parx 2 weeks ago!
Mark: Archie’s Echo is 26 and had not raced since the 90s with him.
Only question is – where are any of those people so happily smiling in the photos??? There for the day – but not for the horse…
um they might be dead by now XD
Funny, but if you read the story you would know that Lorita was his groom, and it was just a crazy coincidence that I had asked her if she knew him or his connections, after we identified him and realized where he had raced all those years ago. Lorita has helped us protect quite a few OTTBs together in the last few years. Sam asked no questions when we told him about the gelding. So it was his previous connections who helped him, and current horsemen who network together through the PTHA’s Turning for Home to protect as many as we can. He had been well cared for off the track for many years, as evidenced by his loving and trusting nature now. With another chapter of his story coming up, having been saved from the barn fire this past weekend at Old Friends with his new friend ALphabet Soup, it would be wonderful if someone who knew his full story and where he was for the missing twenty years, would step up and fill us in. Yes, there is a black spot where someone sold him to slaughter, but I am quite sure there are decades worth of happy pictures and stories of Archie out there.
I am a retired Tb horse trainer. I enjoyed this story very much…thanks for sharing
Thanks to all who saved and found a soft landing for this gelding. Bless them. I hope he enjoys a lovely long retirement. Thanks for posting this happy ending story. It could have gone all wrong for him, but it didn’t. Thanks to everyone!
The new Maiden rule at Parx, should be changed. Very few 6,7,8,9,10,11,12, year old horses will have a career in racing! Let’s stop this non-sense and let these horses have a new job before they are broken for good! I know, i have re[started many horse off the track in new careers! This is a nice story, but let;s try to help them before they are 20 somerthing!
I’ve donated at Old Friends in the past and visit the farm when I’m in Kentucky. Michael is the best. Do you know if Archie has other issues at present besides needing to gain weight,etc ?
From what I saw first hand it seemed like weight, the eye, feet, teeth, etc… mostly just things that went too long ignored, but nothing major. I have not been on the farm with him since Turning For Home picked him up, but am told he is doing well. He was such a good boy to let me identify, just stood there with his head in my hands. When Danielle texted me and told me they got him I was in tears. I’m just so happy we got him out of there.
Very happy he is safe, thank you for doing this , he has a second chance at life.
This needs to be front page news on DRF etc.,positive news from the racetrack!
This is great news! It is heartwarming to hear about the principals of the sport helping to take care of the pensioners in their time of need.
Kudos to Sam Elliott of Parx Racing, Lorita Lindemann and Michael Blowen of Old Friends. Also, thank you to Bob Baffert for making a donation to Old Friends that helped make this happen.
As friends of racing, it is important that we support the tracks that give back to the community and take care of those horses that help to take care of them. A big “thank you” goes out to Parx Racing. Well done!
Sam Elliott is a true advocate for the Horse……He’s brought many, many horses back from a terrible fate……and Michael Blowen is there to catch them. Great story!
so glad to see this warhorse rescued and going to Old Friends–thank you for another happy ending.
What a happy ending for this old gent. So sad to even hear that he was thrown away at such an old age. Thanks to everyone who noticed him and stepped up to help him, including Bob Baffert whose donation is already helping other horses.
Love this story <3 thanks to all involved in giving this old fellow a happy ending.
Thank you so much for rescuing him. GREAT story
Nice to see…acts of kindness deserve special mention!
I was the one who found this horse at New Holland that day. I was an assistant trainer at Parx for two years, and immediately contacted Turning for Home when I found him. The amazing work everyone put in once I was able to get a partial tattoo and photograph him was amazing. Thank you to everyone involved in this effort. I cannot wait to see him beside racing greats at Old Friends.
Kelsey, thank you! I’m sorry I forgot to mention your name among all of those who stepped up to help him. And yes, it’s pretty cool he gets to go live next to Game On Dude and Silver Charm.
It’s not about the credit. I’m just happy to have been there. I haven’t been there in 10 years and that was the day he was there. Fate I guess. People need to see how amazing OTTB’s are so they don’t end up in situations like this. I’m doing the Equine Comeback Challenge this year with an OTTB and I cannot wait to show off what they can do!
Kelsey, you deserve so much of the credit. It takes eyes and ears to the ground and you were there. Fate does come to play, it was just meant to be. Thank you.
Michael and the wonderful folks at Old Friends will know exactly how to care for Archie! They have experience with horses with one eye and will make him comfortable and happy. Thank the good Lord for people who will come to the aid of these veterans. So hopeful for the day that no horse goes to slaughter.
Love, love, love this! Michael is the best! He has been so gracious, including Acacia in many Old Friends fundraisers and Ferdinand’s Ball! Hurray for Archie’s Echo! We just pulled our own rescue from New Holland/ Cranbury Auction. A 15yr old TB, horribly thin, who ran at Penn National until he was 7. Thanks Susan for yet another inspiring story!