A month ago, a woman contacted me – via FTH (For The Horse Equine Rescue) – looking to find a home for her Thoroughbred mare. Thinking the mare might be suitable to breed (I have a friend who would like a baby) I asked for more info, and a photo. I didn’t feel the mare was what my friend was looking for, but as I listened to her story, I thought she would be perfect for the Experiment.
The horse’s name is Southern Sweet Tea and her information is available at Equibase. To summarize she is a Louisiana bred mare foaled in 2006. She has speed. The chart below, where she was in the lead from the start, shows a first quarter in :22 flat. That is blazing. The half went in 44:80 and five furlongs in :58 flat, with the final time for the six furlong being 1:11:80. She won the race by 9 lengths.
In addition she won her first start. This, to me, says “here is a horse with potential.” Sadly, that is not how trainers of “cheap” horses think. This is a perfect example of human psychology at work. This horse was running for $5,000 claiming and yet running faster times than many higher level races run. She was actually entered in the occasional starter allowance, and even though she did well, she went right back to claiming. Why? Because trainers do not want to “waste” a race. It appears that when she was running well and was entered into an allowance race she did well, when she was running badly and was entered in an allowance race (why?) she ran poorly. Duh.
Her most recent good finish was July 20th, 2011 when she ran second. This race was for less money and at a shorter distance. This is the curse of the poor horses who have real speed. They are not given a chance to move on to longer distances so they can use their speed strategically. They are sent to the front and when they cannot win they are moved to shorter races, and again sent to the front. So the poor horse is “balls to the wall” the entire race.
The most amazing part of this story is that Sweet Tea returned lame from her races, and her leg (I forget which one) would blow up. Not after gallops and not after works, only after a race. So this was evidently ignored. It turns out, after several more races, she was scratched in the pre-race check and was taken to Hagyard for radiographs. The x-rays revealed that the poor horse had a chip in her ankle AND a fractured sesamoid. As if that was not bad enough, in the July race where she placed second she also lost a shoe and hit her front heel bulb with her hind foot, cutting herself. Yet she finished second!
This is a horse with speed and heart. She has since had surgery to remove the chip and she needs 6 months to heal the sesamoid.
To make a long story short. I am picking her up Sunday and bringing her to the farm, where she will finish her rehab, and hopefully race next year. Her current owner will remain part owner and she will live the life here that all horses should live.