By rights, both Grand Strand and Morning Herald should have been included in their respective Thoroughbred retirement programs at the tracks where they raced. Instead both horses ended up in different livestock auctions, where kill buyers purchase the great majority of “sale” horses for slaughter. The fate of both horses seemed obvious. Yet in the case of Grand Strand and Morning Herald, destiny was kind. Much-needed help arrived for the two Thoroughbred horses literally in the nick of time. Liz O’Connell of Huffington Post ran the story on Sept.24. Now both horses’ luck is changing.
Grand Strand’s story
Grand Strand’s rescue played out on social media because he was spotted at the New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania on the last day of August. Omega Horse Rescue had sent a representative to the auction to locate former racehorses for rescue from slaughter. This alert person notified Mindy Lovell of Transitions Thoroughbreds who was able to identify Grand Strand from his lip tattoo. In addition, Lovell committed the funds to buy the horse from the auction.
When it was time to bid on Grand Strand, the kill buyers did their best to drive up the price of the horse well above slaughter prices to show their outrage that an interloper was challenging them. Still the Omega Horse Rescue spotter stayed in the bidding until the final bid. The hammer went down on Grand Strand at $950, more than double the highest slaughter price.
Grand Strand was foaled in April 2011, sired by the famed Tiznow, and was raised in Kentucky. As a yearling, Grand Strand sold at the influential Fasiq-Tipton Sale of yearlings, carrying hip 39. He sold for $300,000. Most of his racing was at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga where he won a couple of lower level claiming races, which also brought him to different owners from Centennial Farms to David Jacobson to Nicholaos Panapoulos. Grand Strand ran his last race in New York on May 3 of this year, coming in fifth in a claiming race at Belmont Park. The claiming price was $14,000. He then moved to Parx Racing in Bensalem, PA, where he ran his last four races in close sequence. He placed fourth on July 12, 2015, earning $1,080. This was Grand Strand’s last ever racing start for which he received the comments “wide, stalked, gamely.” Grand Strand’s overall racing record stands at 21 races, with 2 wins, 3 seconds and 3 thirds. He earned a total of $92,509.
How Grand Strand finally ended up at New Holland is unclear, and those who know more are not talking. What is known is that trainer Ramon Preciado sold Grand Strand for $1 to car dealer Salvador Dip. After this “token transfer,” Grand Strand’s whereabouts disappear.
According to Dip [named as buyer on a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission Bill of Sale], he sold Grand Strand as a riding horse to an unnamed woman [he claims he has a bill of sale]. Nothing more has flushed out between July 20 and August 31 at New Holland. What is obvious is that Grand Strand was covered in scratches and scrapes, had a swollen hind leg, and was getting thin enough to count his ribs. Certainly, he had been neglected by end-August when he reappeared at New Holland.
After Lovell successfully bid on Grand Strand, he was transferred to quarantine for 30 days in order to be certain he had not contracted any contagious diseases at the New Holland Auction. At the quarantine facility, he will be vetted, evaluated and his rehabilitation and treatment will begin. After the end of quarantine, Grand Strand will relocate to Lovell’s farm and begin his career as a riding horse.
Of note is the reaction of Grand Strand’s trainer Ramon Preciado when he found out about the horse’s plight. Preciado reimbursed Lovell for Grand Strand’s auction purchase price as well as all quarantine costs. Ironically, years ago another of his horses ended up at New Holland and was also rescued. That horse’s almost-kill sale caused an uproar and set in motion the racehorse retirement and rehoming program now located on the grounds of Parx.
Morning Herald’s story
The Thoroughbred ex-racehorse Morning Herald found himself tied up at the D.R. Chambers & Sons Auction in Unadilla, NY, on Sept. 4. When he spotted a kind looking 15-year-old teenager, he whinnied to her. The girl had come to the auction with her mother to spend her birthday money to purchase tack, not a horse. But when she saw Morning Herald, heard him whinny to her, she just knew they were bringing the horse home.
Morning Herald had a lip tattoo but they were unable to make out the number prior to the sale. Only kill buyers and the mother-daughter bid on the horse. The bidding was finally ended by the auctioneer at $460 which was twice the going rate for the meat horses that night. Once the fees for the Coggins test and auction fees were added to their bill, they owed $537.40 plus $80 shipping and numerous vet bills to come.
A kind person who learned about Morning Herald’s near fate from social media sources jumped in to help with vetting expenses for the horse.
Morning Herald was bred by Stonegate Stables, Saratoga Springs, and is the 2008 son of racehorse Say Florida Sandy who earned several millions. Morning Herald raced 49 times at Finger Lakes Race Track in Farmington, NY, winning $96,887 for Everett Estabrooks’ Whitestone Farm. His final race occurred Dec. 1, 2014, and he placed fifth, winning $315.
He was a barn favorite at the Finger Lakes barn, but it simply is unknown how he ended up at the Unadilla Auction.
Through the kindness of a shipper, friends and the guidance of Lynn Cross from Little Brook Farm Horse Rescue, the teenager and her mother brought Morning Herald home to East Chatham, NY, and are taking care of his quarantine. His veterinary evaluations show a recent substantial wound, a slight soreness in his hind end and overall neglect.
Morning Herald’s former owner Everett Estabrooks could not remember “to whom he gave the horse.” All he knew is that from the time Morning Herald was given away, and he was found at Unadilla Auction, the horse had bounced around three times.
Morning Herald is also under quarantine where he will get care and attention so he can regain his health. Already, Morning Herald is losing much of his nervous nature and responds brightly with interest when a good treat is offered. Long-term plans for Morning Herald are to locate a permanent, well-screened home for him as a riding horse.
Obviously Grand Strand and Morning Herald are not old, decrepit, feeble horses. They are two young registered Thoroughbreds, former racehorses, who were sent away when they did not deliver expected winnings. Both horses were eligible for aftercare Thoroughbred racehorse programs, and both “fell through the cracks” through no fault of their own. They suffered neglect in a very short amount of time, but are young, sound, healthy, good tempered, and have a lot of life left to live.
What possesses people to send them to auction? They’re not old or unhealthy! Why would such lovely horses find themselves with kill buyers? Should these horses be given a new life, away from the track? You judge – How many of our wonderful, promising American horses are cruelly treated and find a hellish fate, turned into slabs of meat for foreign appetites?