California Chrome is poised to make his bid for Triple Crown greatness in less than 48 hours. He may be a trendsetter with his nasal strips, unorthodox trailer exiting strategies, and unique background, but he's not the first blaze-faced chestnut Thoroughbred with an alliterative name to make the news this year.
Zodiac Zar, whose incredible progress at Days End Farm Horse Rescue following a 2010 neglect case was chronicled on this blog (click here to read), moved to his adoptive home in 2012. He lives on a beautiful private farm with Willow and Classy, two mares also adopted from Days End Farm Horse Rescue.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit and photograph Zodiac. His expression is the same as the day I first met him, but he looks like an entirely different horse in every other way. Muscle fills his powerful frame-- he looks taller every time I see him. Gone is the tired, brittle, patchy coat-- he now glows in the sun with an iridescent sheen.
Excellent care, a comfortable environment, companionship, and good food have brought out the best in this horse. He is thriving in every way. Success stories like his are the reason why rescues like Days End work so hard to help thousands of horses in need. Days End Farm Horse Rescue's calendar is full of fundraisers, education series, and volunteer opportunities. If you'd like to get involved, please visit the DEFHR website for more information.
|Zodiac, May 2014|
|Zodiac in September 2010|
|Zodiac in 2014|
|Zodiac in 2010|
|Zodiac in 2014|
|Zodiac with his mare friends, Classy and Williw|
|Synchronized rolling in the pasture|
Days End Farm Horse Rescue is not the only organization with a busy schedule. Every time I check the Retired Racehorse Project's Facebook page, I learn about more events, educational resources, and fantastic Thoroughbreds for adoption/sale. On June 7, an hour or so before California Chrome is saddled for the Belmont, the RRP online auction fundraiser begins. Artwork, services, and unique experiences/opportunities will be auctioned on eBay. Trainer Nuno Santos, pictured below on his super-chromey Thoroughbred dressage superstar Ken's Kitten, donated a lesson package, and it's sure to be a hot item. Bidding ends on June 14 at the Thoroughbreds & Wine For All event at Dodon Farm in Davidsonville, Maryland. Click here for tickets.
The excitement continues on Monday, June 9, when ten trainers, horses, and racing connections will be announced for the "America's Most Wanted" contest this October at the RRP Symposium at Pimlico. Already on the roster are MSW Icabad Crane, Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion, and Olympian Phillip Dutton.
On Kentucky Derby day, Secret Santa and Jeffrey Ayers swept all four TAKE2 hunter classes at the Garden State Horse Show. The duo also cleaned up this spring in TAKE2 hunter classes in Culpeper, VA.
Since its formation in 2012, TAKE2 has worked tirelessly to promote the value of retired racehorses in the sport horse world through its hunter and jumper divisions at top horse shows. The Take the Lead program is a valuable resource for those who are interested in retiring, retraining, rehabbing, placing, or purchasing horses off the track. The TAKE2 Facebook page is a very active showcase of both winners of TAKE2 classes and Take the Lead horses, available through outreach programs such as New Vocations.
You're in excellent company, Mr. Chrome. Best of luck on Saturday.
- Sarah Andrew