Grand Strand, a 4-year-old Thoroughbred who sold for $300,000 as a yearling, was purchased for $950 two days ago by Thoroughbred activists, bravely outbidding a meat buyer looking to fill up his load of slaughter-bound horses headed to Canada.
“What a fall from grace, eh?” says Mindy Lovell, an Ontario-based horse rescuer and advocate.
Acting on a tip Monday morning from friend and fellow horse advocate Kelly Smith of Omega Horse Rescue of Pa., Lovell, who has rescued many Thoroughbreds and runs Transitions Thoroughbreds in Canada, was able to quickly identify the strikingly pretty Thoroughbred as a top-selling son of Tiznow by verifying his lip tattoo and physical markings, Lovell says.
“After Kelly read the tattoo to me, and I found out who he was, I double checked by having her confirm his physical traits, which are in his Jockey Club records,” Lovell says. “I read down the list, and after each one, she said, ‘Yup, yup, yup.’ ”
Dam: Myrtle Beach, by Kingmambo
Foal date: April 30, 2011
Earnings: $92,509, in 21 startsAs soon as the identification was made, Lovell and Smith bid against the kill buyer, driving the gelding’s price up to $950, says Lovell, noting, “I swear to God, I would have moved heaven and earth to get him out of there.”
The pair bought Grand Strand his freedom without raising funds on social media; a deliberate decision to avoid making the plight public, and possibly risking the safety of the horse, she says, explaining that she was concerned undo publicity could jeopardize the animal’s safety. Lovell explains that it is not uncommon that attempted horse rescues are hindered by undo social media attention and outrage.
So she waited until after the horse was safe to release his name yesterday.
As Grand Strand awaits a ride to her Ontario facility, Lovell has been fielding phone calls and inquiries about the horse. Grand Strand’s former trainer Ramone Preciado reached out yesterday and offered to cover the cost of the rescue, including the $950 as well as shipping and quarantine, Lovell says.
Preciado, reached by email, says he was very upset when he heard the news.
“We offered to take him home to retire him,” Preciado says. “But, Mindy decided to take him and I said I would cover his costs. I was heartbroken, but I am so happy now to know that he is safe with Mindy.”
The distraught trainer thought the gelding had placed with a hunter/jumper facility, Lovell says, noting that Preciado says he retained a bill of sale after visiting the facility, she says. “I told them that we see situations like this often enough, and that there are some people out there who are very good at duping trainers and horse owners into believing” their horses are going to a good home.
“This is not the first $300,000 yearling I’ve pulled from a kill pen,” she says. “I’ve got some of the best, by Silver Charm, Dixie Union, you name it. But he is my first by Tiznow.”
Grand Strand will now reside with Lovell, and possibly train for a hunter/jumper career if his condition allows. And when he joins the others in her herd of thrown-away Thoroughbreds, he will join a distinct group who were once priced so high they seemed destined for greatness, and not the insult and outrage of the auction pen.
“The whole point of this, and why I did say something, is be because what is highly disturbing to me is this is not the first horse I have pulled out of a slaughter situation who has impeccable breeding. Nor will he be the last,” Lovell says. “This tells me that no matter what their breeding, so many of them are at great risk for shipping to slaughter.”