Thursday, August 5, 2010

Emaciated thoroughbred with illustrious pedigree saved from certain slaughter

My dream is to have a horse rescue one day. So many horses are bound for slaughterhouses, neglected or mistreated. Luckily there are many rescues out there, but just not enough.

So glad Tacticianor is safe now. Unfortunately so many are not.

August 4, 11:53 PM - Equine Advocacy Examiner - Maureen Harmonay

When the story of Tacticianor is written, it won't be about his rather pedestrian record on the racetrack, or even about his rather illustrious pedigree and family connections, as a grandson of the great Storm Cat and a half-brother to the much-heralded and fabulously successful runner, Evening Attire.

No, Tacticianor's claim to fame will spring from the fact that as he stood forlorn in a notorious Ohio kill pen--an anonymous, emaciated, and broken down horse whose days were numbered to the amount of time it would take for him to travel to a slaughterhouse in Mexico--some good-hearted people stepped forth to save him, not knowing who they'd found.

When they spotted him on Friday, July 30th, as he awaited his fate at the Sugarcreek Auction, rescuers had no idea who Tacticianor was. Some speculated that because of his grey color, he was part Arab, and most assumed that because of the tired look in his eye, he was quite old. And even when someone flipped up his lip to determine if he had ever been tattooed, she was able only to confirm that he was a thoroughbred who had spent some time on the racetrack. No one knew where, no one knew when.

That's when they called Deborah (Deb) Jones, a passionate thoroughbred advocate who has made it her life's mission to identify and protect thoroughbreds destined for slaughter, and intervene before they are loaded on to a one-way trip to hell. It was Deb who researched Tacticianor's tattoo, and learned his true identity, but that information was put on the back burner because Sugarcreek's owner, Leroy Baker, had already booked the six-year-old gelding on the truck to Mexico. It was leaving on Sunday, August 1st, so there wasn't much time.

Deb quickly contacted Mandae Lewis at nearby Greener Pastures Equine Rescue, who agreed to take the horse on short notice. She and Lori Armstrong essentially dropped everything to arrange to get Tacticianor out of Sugarcreek with the help of Rena' Martin of Drafty Barn Equine Rescue, while Deb wired the $75 that Baker said he wanted for the horse. By the end of the day on Sunday, he was safe.

Plagued with assorted aches and pains, a shoulder injury of indeterminate origin, and ribs sticking out so far you can count them, Tacticianor may be out of harm's way, but he's facing a long rehabilitation. He's currently receiving loving care and medical attention under the supervision of Amy McLeod, who runs a quarantine barn for Greener Pastures. The question is: how did Tacticianor, who finished off the board in his last race--a bottom-level $3500 claimer at Beulah Park on March 10th--fall so far, so fast?

Here's what we know. It was with high hopes that Tacticianor's racing career began, in the fall of 2006, when he competed against two-year-old Maiden Special Weight foes for his owner/breeders TJ Kelly and Joseph Grant. The extreme success of the horse's older half-brother, Evening Attire, had led them to dream that Tacticianor might be as good. But he finished 24 lengths back, and in his next start, was eased. Tacticianor's original connections tried everything: they ran him long and short, on dirt and on turf, but the results were always the same: Tacticianor seemed to run out of gas and finish up many lengths behind the competition.

The good-looking grey was sent to Suffolk Downs in the summer of 2007, where he raced without distinction, but managed to hit the board in lower-level claiming races, while never making it to the winner's circle. By October of that year, Mr. Grant apparently realized that Tacticianor just wasn't cut out to be a runner, and in good faith, he gave him to someone who promised to provide the gelding with a good home.

But four months later, Tacticianor was back in the starting gate again, this time at Turfway Park, where he ran twice and finished unplaced. Over the course of the next two years, Tacticianor made 26 more starts, managing to break his maiden for a $4000 tag, and win two other bottom-level claiming races. He made his last start over a sloppy track at Beulah Park on March 10th of this year, and ended his career with total earnings of just under $16,000.

By April, Tacticianor was listed for sale for $750 on the CANTER Ohio website, with photographs indicating that he appeared to be happy, healthy, and well-fed, stabled in Barn 17 at Beulah under the care of his last trainer, Kristi Van Meter. The CANTER site describes the 16h grey as "sound on an old, set osselot," with "no stall vices." Whatever happened in his last race, though, it appears that Ms. Van Meter had determined that Tacticianor needed to be retired for good this time, because his CANTER writeup further says, "He's decided he's done racing and can get cranky at the track but is a 'perfect angel' at the farm--when he came out of his stall to get his picture taken he was relaxed and a perfect gentleman. He'll make someone a great horse--maybe a beginner hunter."

It's not clear how long Tacticianor remained with trainer Van Meter, but by early June, he had been transferred to Angela Perry, who runs Bluestone Farm, a sales and breeding facility in southern Ohio. She advertised him for sale at $850 on the Horsetopia website on or about June 13th. According to a story in the Daily Racing Form, Ms. Perry said she sold Tacticianor about a month ago, but could not--or perhaps would not--identify who bought him.

We don't know how the lanky grey gelding ended up at Sugarcreek, but an agent form the Meigs County Humane Society is conducting an investigation, and intends to find out.

As for Tacticianor, his future now looks very bright indeed. As soon as breeder Joseph Grant learned of his plight, he immediately stepped up to contribute to his old colorbearer's expenses, and also put in a good word for him at Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue, the retirement home of Tacticianor's celebrated half-brother, the $2.9 million dollar earner, Evening Attire.

Once Tacticianor has put on some much-needed weight and recovered from his injuries, he'll be heading to Pawling, New York, to live out the rest of his life with his look-alike relative at Akindale, where they'll both be treated like royalty, without regard to how they got there.


Yankecwgrl said...

WOw. What a STORY! I recently got back a TB that I owned years ago.
He was given to a 'rescue' and then passed from person to person for the last 7 or so years who starved him to near death more than once. He made a trip from Florida to Texas last month on a big rig and is now gaining weight in my pasture.
TB's have so much heart and so much to offer.....their fates are sometimes so sad.

allhorsestuff said...

Great ending for a fabulous horse!
So happy to read this many of them get discarded. I am pleased for the rescue forces that are rising save them and investigate/prosecute those whom discard and harm them!

You would be an excellent advocate..and such a noble desire!

Anonymous said...

The Green Pastures Equine Rescue site reports that Tacticianor developed neurological symptoms and is undergoing tests at Ohio State University Veterinary College.

Mikey said...

What an amazing story. I sincerely hope he has run his last race and finds a nice little girl to love him and ride him bareback in a pasture. That horse deserves a great retirement. What a sad, but great story.

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