The disparate elements of the racing world are often accused of not playing nicely with each other. Tracks compete with each other for dates and gambling dollars; what’s good for horsemen isn’t always good for gamblers; what makes fans happy doesn’t always jibe with the decisions made on the backstretch; charitable organizations fight for donation dollars. We bicker, we debate, we squabble.
But every once in a while, cooperation trumps competition, and in the announcement yesterday that Hotstufanthensome would find a permanent home at Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue, we find an example of organizations coming together for a common good.
I met Hotstuf last winter at Gulfstream, when he was 10 years old and in the barn of Teresa Pompay; she had trained him from late January 2008 until September 13 of that year, when he was
claimed from her at Monmouth transferred to trainer Ben Perkins. In six starts with Pompay, he had finished in the money three times: a first, a second, and a third. She was his fifth trainer, and he came back to her after what would be his last start, a sixth place finish at the Meadowlands in October 2009.
Hotstuf was retired before he made another start; he went from Gulfstream’s backside to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, with the goal of his being trained for a second career. Injuries prevented that from happening; while pasture sound, he’s not sturdy/sound enough for more vigorous exercise, so for several months, this son of Awesome Again out of Don’t Read My Lips was in limbo.
Since last summer, a number of people have investigated permanent homes for him: for one reason or another, none worked out…until yesterday, when New Vocations announced that Hotstufanthensome will shortly take up residence at Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue in Pawling, New York.
“We are happy to announce that Hotstufanthensome will be going to Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue in Pawling, New York where he will have a forever home,” said Anna Ford, program director of New Vocations, in an e-mail. “We are thrilled that Akindale stepped up and offered their services to him. In return they will send one of their adoptable horses to New Vocations, which will enter the retraining program and eventually find a new home. This is a perfect example of two programs working together and utilizing their strengths.”
Akindale is the retirement home of Evening Attire and his half-brother Tacticianor; while Evening Attire has become fast friends with his sibling – “The two of them play all day long,” Erin Pfister, who runs the farm’s rescue division, said by phone – one wonders how he’ll feel when a former rival shows up.
On October 30, 2004, Evening Attire and Hotstufanthensome faced off in the Knickerbocker Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct; Evening Attire emerged with bragging rights, finishing second to Hotstuf’s eighth. But Hotstuf’s no slouch in the stakes department, having won the Cliff Hanger (G3) at the Meadowlands in October of 2005 and the Mac Diarmida Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream in January of 2006. At age six in the latter, Hotstuf set a new track record. He also won several ungraded stakes races.
“We’re excited to have him come here,” said Pfister, “and to have New Vocations take one of our adoptable horses. It’s how everybody should work: give a little, take a little. Two horses win in this situation.”
Akindale offers a sponsorship program as well as other ways to contribute and will be looking for ongoing sponsors for Hotstuf, who retired with a record of 13-9-3 from 45 starts, and earnings of $756,743. New Vocations also offers a variety of ways to contribute.
If you’re on Facebook, check out Akindale’s page for updates and photos of Hotstuf (when he gets there), of Evening Attire and Tac, and the dozens of other horses that have found permanent homes there. New Vocations also has a Facebook page, but it’s got too many friends and can’t accept any more. FB members can check out the page for news, though.
Though at times his future was uncertain, Hotstufanthensome is a lucky Thoroughbred: during his career and after, he’s been surrounded by folks who care about his well-being, and he’s found the softest of all possible landings, to live out his days among former racehorses, with vigilant and compassionate caretakers, on a beautiful farm with room to run and play. See what can happen when people play nice?
More on Akindale and Hotstufanthensome: