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Mar 29, 2012 - NTRA
Gray Mare by Cloud’s Forty Four out of Mutter by Drone
Foaled: April 9, 2001
Race Record: 31 starts, 3 wins, 3 seconds, 3 thirds, $84,300
The website of Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, Inc. features a beautiful gray mare throughout its pages. While she is a gorgeous example of the Thoroughbred, there is much more to her status on the website than that. Cloud's Honor earned $85,000 before she retired from racing, completely sound, at the age of 6. She raced 31 times and tried her best each and every time. When Cloud’s Honor got through her conditions and it became necessary to drop her in for a tag, Kim Clark retired her to her farm rather than risk losing her through a claim. During her career, much of her earnings went to supporting and financing the creation and growth of Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, as it quickly expanded to place an average of 150 racehorses per year--most of them from Maryland tracks.
Here is the story of “Graycie”, as told by Kim Clark, President, Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, Inc.
"Graycie" as we call her, was rescued as a weanling by Lisa Amarino, my mentor. She is the person who made me aware of the problems facing retiring racehorses. It seems unbelievable, but the entire time I galloped, owned and trained Thoroughbreds, I thought everyone did what I did--find the horses a good home when they retired from the track. It was when I got Graycie and connected with Lisa that I became aware that all too often these noble spirits are simply discarded.
Lisa had tirelessly networked for years to find homes for Thoroughbreds who were in trouble. One day on her way to lunch with her children, Lisa passed a farm where a thin, forlorn yearling filly stood alone in a field. It was obvious to Lisa that this little girl was in big trouble. Her kids told her to stop, but she kept driving. On the way home, she could not resist the temptation to stop in. The farm owner told her that if she wanted the filly she better act quickly. Monday, the filly and some others were to go to auction. Lisa went home and scraped up the money to buy Graycie, saving her life in the process.
Lisa Amarino spent many hours with the filly, nursing her back to health and loving her. I believe this is the reason she likes humans so very much. Graycie has never had much use for other horses, but she loves people. If you walk down the shedrow at Leighton Farm, her head will appear out of the stall and she just knows you have come to see her.
Originally Lisa planned to keep Graycie for herself, but she later decided to take her to the Fasig-Tipton auction in Timonium, Maryland when she was a yearling. The filly had become so strong. This made Lisa think she wanted to be a racehorse. When the hammer dropped, Lisa cried. People at the auction told her not to worry, that Kim Clark had bought the horse. I was known for the love of my horses.
About a year later, Graycie/Cloud's Honor was entered at Philadelphia Park. She had already begun her racing career with some success. It was just me and my girl Graycie, as usual. I did everything but ride her in races. I broke her, trained her, galloped her, groomed and ran her. As I sat in front of the filly's stall in the receiving barn, my cell phone rang. It was Lisa Amarino, the person I considered to be Graycie's mother. We had a great talk about "our girl". Graycie reciprocated by winning that day.
Eventually, I found myself in a predicament as a race trainer. For various reasons, I had a total of five retiring racehorses that needed to be rehomed. In the past I had always been able to find homes for my horses, but this was a lot of horses. I decided to put them on a page on my website. I took nice pictures and included video links to YouTube, but was not prepared for the response I received. All five horses moved in 8 days to great homes. They sold for $1,000 to $2,500. It was astounding. I had always believed that not many people outside of racing wanted our retiring Thoroughbreds.
I arrived at Bowie the next day and asked a couple friends if they had any horses they wanted to retire/sell. The news spread by word of mouth and the placement of retiring racehorses slowly started to take over my life. Lisa counseled me as the work expanded. She educated me about what happened to horses that didn't have the option of a new home. This work grew until it was necessary to create Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, Inc.
For the remainder of her racing career, Graycie's winnings supported TPR so it could serve retiring racehorses. Without this wonderful mare coming into my life, TPR would never have been created and could not have grown. After her retirement, TPR has had a very tough time finding financial support to continue to serve Maryland racehorses, but we are still doing as much as we can.
Since retiring permanently from racing, Graycie took enough time off to have a baby: Magnificent Mr. Z. She was a wonderful mother, but now has begun a third career as a dressage horse. Graycie and my training is overseen by Grand Prix Dressage coach and judge Elizabeth Madlener. Elizabeth is well known for her work in both dressage and with Thoroughbreds. In July, Graycie competed in her first PVDA schooling show and won both classes with scores of 70% and 71%.
Introducing Graycie to show riding was an experience in itself. Normally the horse changes hands and begins a new discipline. Instead, she remained with the person who trained and rode her as a racehorse - me. Graycie had trained at Leighton Farm as well as Bowie Training Center and Pimlico Racecourse. I had always been her exercise rider both at the track and on the farm. Now she was back at Leighton Farm, but not as a racehorse. For Graycie, it was literally as if, one day, I came down to the barn and lost my mind. Instead of gallops and long jogs, she was doing 20 metre circles and spending time on the longe line. She was not happy in be beginning and even now she complains about some of the requirements of being a show horse. Graycie is a wonderful athlete and offers superior movement for dressage, but she loved being a racehorse; it is still in her soul today.
When it came time to take her to her first show, I hoped she would like it. We prepped her with a trip to Barbara Weinbrecht's farm to work with Grand Prix Dressage rider and coach, Silva Martin. Graycie was a dream and we knew it was time to take the plunge and enter in a show.
Madlener and I knew it was either going to be really great or something people talked about for a very long time. When Graycie likes something her athleticism is spectacular. When she does not, her athletic prowess is equally impressive, just not in the way one would like. Fortunately, Graycie is a consummate professional and upon arriving at the Chesapeake Dressage Institute in Annapolis, Maryland, she stepped off the trailer and was pleased to be the center of attention. Finally, she was able to show off her new talents. Graycie knew all eyes would be on her. She competed in her first PVDA schooling show and won both classes with scores of 70% and 71%. She was easier to ride at the show than at home.
Cloud's Honor/Graycie did more than reveal to me the problems facing racehorses when they retire. She inspired and financed a retirement program for her peers. She continues to be a viable competitor in a new sport and will be a fine representative of what a retired Thoroughbred racehorse can accomplish when given the opportunity.
For more information about Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, Inc. go to www.goodhorse.org or call 301-579-6898.
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