Old photo is puzzle piece in mystery mare saga

This win photo shows an OTTB who went on to have five foals before she was rescued two years ago in a sweep by South Florida law enforcement.

This win photo shows an OTTB who went on to have five foals before she was rescued two years ago in a sweep by South Florida law enforcement. Photo courtesy Susie Martell

A 20-year-old rescue mare who once had nothing—not a name, not papers, not enough food to sustain her bedraggled frame—has had everything returned, even a relic of her past glory.

This month, an old win photo arrived.

It showed the horse once known as “No Name” to her rescuers crossing the finish line at Thistledown.

Crowning Glory, a granddaughter of Affirmed who was rescued by Miami-Dade authorities in South Florida two years ago, looked resplendent after a win.

For owner and caretaker Susie Martell, the photo was another piece of a puzzle in the life of the racemare she adopted shortly after the OTTB was rescued in a raid done in conjunction with the South Florida SPCA.

Crowning Glory
Sire: Caller I.D.
Dam: Crown and Scepter, by Affirmed
Foal date: March 5, 1996
The gentle mare was skin and bones when she was pulled from a farm with starvation conditions so grim that another horse died shortly after rescue. Surviving Thoroughbreds were deemed by a veterinarian to have a body condition score of between 1 and 2. And, the Miami-Dade Agricultural Patrol arrested property owner Nivardo Beaton. (Please read the original story here: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2014/06/03/6-starving-t-bred-mares-saved-in-fla-sweep/.

Martell was volunteering with the SPCA at the time, and while taking photographs of the emaciated Thoroughbreds, the gentle bay approached and nuzzled her. From that point on, Martell and the then-unnamed mare bonded in a new life together.

Martell adopted the bay when she was well into her recovery, and embarked on solving the mystery of the horse’s identity. The racemare’s old lip tattoo was too faded to read, and after many failed attempts, she ran DNA testing. Please read about that here: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2015/03/30/dna-test-reveals-id-of-seized-mystery-mare.

Susie Martell had come to photograph mares rescued by the South Florida SPCA when she met and eventually adopted a mystery mare later identified as Crowning Glory.

Susie Martell had come to photograph mares rescued by the South Florida SPCA when she met and eventually adopted a mystery mare later identified as Crowning Glory.

After testing revealed the true identity of the mare she’d named Hope was in fact Crowning Glory, and that she was a granddaughter of the fabled Triple Crown winner Affirmed, Martell sought to learn more. But the age of her horse, who turned 20 this month, stymied her efforts to track down anyone who remembered her mare.

Until earlier this month, when one of Martell’s good friends and fellow equestrian tracked down a win photo and presented it to Martell as an early birthday present. The photograph, which was taken on July 26, 1999, was obtained from a kindly woman at Pin Oak Stables in Kentucky, who rummaged through old files and discovered the artifact.

Seeing a photograph of her mare, who has blossomed under her care, somehow cemented more than words that her mellow, borderline fat mare was really, in fact, the horse revealed in the DNA test. For she would recognize that face anywhere, even in a photo taken so long ago on a cloudy day at Thistledown.

“When my friend Carolin Phillips presented me with this picture, I just burst into tears,” Martell says. “To see her as a three-year old was something I never thought I’d be able to do. I never could picture her running on the racetrack or winning a race. So when I saw it, after all this time, I just cried.”

She adds, “She only raced 13 times before having five foals. The gap between her time as a broodmare and ending up in a place where she almost starved to death is a mystery that makes me sick. But now I have the vision and memory of how she was before all this. It’s an amazing birthday gift! I can’t wait to frame it!”

17 responses to “Old photo is puzzle piece in mystery mare saga”

  1. Debra

    Susan is my niece and I am so thrilled that this beautiful mare has come into her life. After the death of her horse Chancy many years ago I have been hoping she would overcome her long period of grief to be able to love another horse. Hope is a dream come true.

    1. Susie

      Thank you so much Aunt Deb! You more than anyone knows how distraught I was after losing my beloved Chancey! Both the SFSPCA and Hope ended years of grieving. Beyond thrilled to have found this beautiful girl. She has enriched my life in so many ways. Chancey and Hope occupy a very special place in my heart! So happy you have met her and your support and love is appreciated.

  2. Janey Ragan Poteet Boyd

    Priceless for all!!

    1. Susie

      Thank-you! I am beyond grateful to have this sweet, beautiful girl in my life!

  3. lexi63

    her jockey in this picture , Michael Rowland was a friend of mine , he died in a racing accident in 2004 a few years after he won on this sweet girl ::::: knowing Michael & how he loved the horses he rode , he would have been heartbroken to see what happened to her, he kept films of every race he won , he probably had the film of this girls race too, http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/02/10/loc_loc4a.html

    1. Lunette Gascoigne

      I was going to say the same thing about Mikie Row!!! Great jock and wonderful person!! So sad he’s gone.

    2. Susie

      Thank you so much for sharing about the jockey! He sounds like a wonderful person and I am very happy to know that such a loving man was the first to ride my girl and win! Yes, he would have been heartbroken to have seen her in the condition she was in when rescued. I have no idea how or why she was found where she was. I am just happy that Crowning Glory and I found each other. She is living a happy, healthy life now and I love her beyond words. I would love to find video of her. Thanks again for sharing and for your kind words.

      1. lexi63

        Michael was so proud of every horse he rode , he was a special guy, ( as a retired jockey myself I am well aware of the special relationships we have for these great warriors that win for us because we ask them to) , its like riding the wind , with such power & heart they give so much of themselves to us just because we ask them to , They together for a win did it for each other on that day , there special relationship brought about momentary glory for each of them, together, for that moment in time.
        For people to then take these special creatures for granted and allow these terrible things to happen to them is a crime, I am so glad she is in such good hands now and until 4-ever, she will be cared for & loved , so many , more then anyone knows slip threw the cracks and the suffering they endure is disgusting and unforgivable, she is one of the lucky ones, she found her person who will protect her from the evil in this world ,Horses have long memories , i just hope the love & care you have brought her has made her forget the suffering she endured after giving so much of herself for the people she once trusted. These horses are such special beings. The cruelty much stop , thankfully for people like yourself who save them & for Susan who brings these stories to light , more will find peace and be saved from the nightmares they must live through. I am glad to have made a connection for you that your precious girl shared with an old friend of mine, i was so happy to see the picture and my old friend Michael smiling , thats how iil always remember him .
        As far as finding a video of the race you can try calling the track But, i don;t know how far back they keep & archive their films. Just call thistledowns.- here is the number —- ( ask for the filming room) , you have the date & her name, thats all you need, https://www.jackentertainment.com/thistledown/racing/

        1. Susie

          Dear lexi63… I read your last response over dinner with 2 friends that have also adopted rescue horses. They are not OTB’s but amazing horses given a 2nd chance at life like my Hope. I read your beautiful words aloud and began to cry. I had to hand my phone to one of my friends to read. The other is the one who tracked down the pic of Crowning Glory(Hope) with your friend Michael aboard. Your words touched me deeply and my friends too ! I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to write those heartfelt words. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. He sounded like a wonderful man and jockey. Again, to know that he rode Crowning Glory with love and respect means the world to me! There are major gaps in her life that I cannot account for but her first born was rescued with her. Not sure how they were still together or how they ended up in a barren field eating garbage from a dumpster. But to have these few pieces of the puzzle of her life means the world to me. She has definitely been through a lot and thank goodness she was a fighter. She was barely a 1 on the system that rates the body weight of horses with 1 being in extremely severe condition! It was love at first sight for us & I was willing to do whatever it took to return her to good health even before I knew anything about her. The look in her eyes and sweetness in her let me know there was something quite special about her. It took a full year to rehab her and she is just amazing. I love her more than words can say and am so grateful she was rescued. She would not have lasted much longer had she not been found. I have been a rescue volunteer for 4 years and have seen many OTB’s come through. I have seen many other horses as well. Most of the time we never know anything about their history. Just that we want them to be loved and to know that they have found their way in to safe hands and will never be mistreated again. Such is the case of my girl. I hope the love has erased past suffering. She is a kind and trusting girl and will be taken care of and loved for the rest of her days ! Your words meant so much to me and to all who have given a rescue a 2nd chance at life. I tear up as I write this. Thank you!!! I will try and track down a video of your dear friend Michael riding her. If you should happen to track anything down let me know as well. You sound just as wonderful as your friend. I am deeply touched by your words and your friendship with Michael. I am also extremely grateful to Susan for her interest in the journey of Crowning Glory and myself and for all the wonderful success stories she shares.

  4. Rebecca Hill

    I’m happy this mare was found in the SPCA sweep to save the mares, and very glad there was a Susie who responded with an adoption of the mare! Also, glad there was a friend & another lady who rummaged thru files to find a win photo of the mare; what a ‘crowning glory’ this has all been…sending much love & “positive energy” to Susie and her beautiful ottb!!

    1. Susie

      Thank you so much Rebecca for your kind words and positive energy! This sweet, beautiful mate truly is a Crowning Glory and very loved!

  5. Mary McLeod

    Talk about a simple twist of fate!! Thanks to Carolin for the photo and to Susan for writing another installment in this touching story. Much love and happiness to Susie and Hope!!! xoxo to ALL, Mary in Boone

    1. Susie

      Thank you so much for your kind words Mary! I am truly blessed with great friends and an amazing horse. Hope( Crowning Glory) brings great joy to my life and is very happy, healthy and loved not only by me but by her extended family as well. I greatly appreciate the stories that Susan Salk has taken the time to write about our journey. Susan is awesome!! Thanks again Mary

  6. Susan

    Another great and heartwarming story! Love it!!!

    1. Susie

      Thank you Susan!

  7. Kathy

    Wow — I got chills reading the article, That win photo was taken on my birthday.

    1. Susie

      Thank you for your comment Kathy! It has been quite a journey! Very cool that Crowning Glory’s maiden victory was the same day as your birthday!

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