Cathy Hartsock rushed into Barn 4 at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s James River location, found the right stall, and threw her arms around the neck of the copper chestnut gelding she’d been worrying about for years. She began to cry.
“I felt like I was seeing one of my children,” says Cathy Hartsock, who along with her husband Bob Hartsock had always wondered what happened to the off-track Thoroughbred Oligopolist. “He was the best horse we ever bred,” adds Bob Hartsock.
The Maryland couple, who bred four horses in their lifetime, sold Oligopolist as a 2-year-old and avidly followed his racing career. They phoned his trainer, rejoiced at his victories —he earned more than $100,000 in 43 starts—until they lost track of his whereabouts after his race career ended in 2009.
Dam: Corporate Takeover, by Corporate Report
Foal date: March 24, 2003
Earnings: $110,182, 43 starts“From age 6 to 13, we had no idea where he ended up,” Bob Hartsock says. His wife adds, “We would plug his name into a Google search, but never found him until earlier this year when we plugged his name in, and up popped your story (in Off-Track Thoroughbreds.com) about how he was rescued by the TRF.”
The couple read with sadness that Ollie had been among 80+ horses rescued from Peaceable Farms in Orange, Va., a facility where horses died, or were near death, when authorities raided it in October 2015. But a foster farm had rescued Ollie and another OTTB, before the TRF offered a retirement home for the pair at James River Work Center in Virginia.
“Just knowing he was safe made us so happy,” Cathy Hartsock says, her husband adding, “He looked great.”
The couple was the first to arrive and the last to leave at the Sept. 18 Open Barn at the TRF’s Barn 4, says Anne Tucker, co-founder of the program. “They stayed for four hours, and showed everyone Ollie’s baby pictures,” Tucker says. “Cathy told me about Ollie’s history and his half-sister and said they planned to be in touch, and come back to visit.”
The Hartsocks had a very small breeding operation at the time they brought Ollie into the world. They bred his mother Corporate Takeover, whose bloodlines were exciting because they were void of Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector — a rarity in Thoroughbreds.
“We bought the broodmare as a weanling at Fasig-Tipton, and were excited by her unique bloodlines,” Cathy Hartsock says. “She wasn’t much of a racehorse, so we decided to breed her in Kentucky. We bred her twice to Mutakddim, and we got Ollie and a half sister, Rose to Riches.”
The mother was eventually euthanized for medical reasons, but they still own Rose, and board her at a facility where Cathy Hartsock rides her. Explaining that they don’t have a farm of their own in which to offer Ollie a home, the couple says they are over-the-moon that Ollie is safe.
“We didn’t want to leave him, so, at the end of the day, we followed the inmate who takes care of him and Ollie back out to the field,” she says, her husband adding, “We wanted to see him gallop. He looked good. Cathy cried knowing he’s safe.”— This blog is supported by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF, Inc.). The TRF protects and cares for over 800 off-track Thoroughbreds around the country. Please consider making a small donation today: https://trf20546.thankyou4caring.org/Make-A-Gift