Friday, September 30, 2016

‘Rescued’ Rachel’s Girl Making 105th Start

A happy retirement is in store for Rachel’s Girl, a thoroughbred who early this summer was on the verge of being homeless.

The Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Ky., has agreed to take in the eight-year-old mare this fall.

That arrangement was made by David Ludwig, who took over the ownership of Rachel’s Girl in late June.

But before Rachel’s Girl is vanned to Kentucky, Ludwig and trainer Doug Potter will run her in Friday’s second race at Gulfstream Park.

It will be the 105th career start for Rachel’s Girl.  It also will probably be her last race, Ludwig said.

To The Rescue
Immediate prospects were not bright for Rachel’s Girl in mid-June, when owner Spencer McDonald decided he could no longer afford to keep racing her or paying for her care in Potter’s barn at Gulfstream.

Potter kept the abandoned mare in his barn.  But he realized that it would be difficult to find someone to buy her and keep paying bills to take care of her.

Consider that Rachel’s Girl then had just two wins, six second place finishes and three third place finishes in 99 starts.

Ludwig, who has owned several horses trained by Potter, then stepped in and paid Gulfstream the required $1 to become at least temporarily the owner of Rachel’s Girl.

“Her fate was hanging by a thread,” Ludwig said. “Who knows what would have happened?”

Unfortunately, some thoroughbreds that can no longer race and do not have breeding value are given away or otherwise wind up with owners who mistreat them. Slaughter is sometimes the end result.

“As a horseman, I felt that I had to do something (for Rachel’s Girl),” Ludwig said. “It is important to step up to the plate for these horses.”

Ludwig is a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.  He is among the numerous Florida professionals and business people for whom thoroughbred ownership is a side business or a hobby—and who are a lifeblood for the sport.

His list of horses includes Bob’s Jawbreaker, winner of the 2009 Runaway Marcie Stakes at Calder.  He owned that horse in a partnership with Desirae Potter, whose father Doug Potter was the trainer.

 Back to the Races
After a veterinarian examined Rachel’s Girl and determined that she is still fit for racing, Ludwig decided to keep running her—while seeking to find her a permanent home at a farm in Florida or Kentucky.

Part of the goal was to get her 100th career start.  That is a rare milestone for 21st century thoroughbreds.

Ludwig has started Rachel’s  Girl five  times, all at Gulfstream, with no finishes better than fifth.

But he said she seems happy and  has no leg problems. Thus, he
decided to keep  racing her.

Friday’s second race has a scheduled post of  1:46 p.m.  It is seven furlongs on dirt for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up. It has a $15,000 purse with a $6,250 claiming price.

Manny Aguilar will ride Rachel’s Girl, who is 30-1 in the morning line in a seven-horse field. It should be noted that on Sept. 26  at Gulfstream she had  a bullet three furlong workout of 36.0 seconds.

Some History
Rachel’s Girl is an example of how numerous well-bred thoroughbreds wind up with careers on the bottom levels of claiming ranks.

Her sire is First Samurai, whose sire is Giant’s Causeway. Her maternal grandfather is City Zip.  All three were graded stakes winners.  She was bred in Kentucky by Lansdon Robbins and Kevin Callahan.

Despite her pedigree that is impressive, although several notches below regal, she was sold for just $1,700 at an Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. sale in April 2010.

The buyer Marcelo Cuito raced her for two years until 2012, when a series of claims began.

Rachel’s Girl has not won a  race since 2013 as she continued a career of basically helping to fill race fields.

In 2015, she raced 16 times with one second place and 15 off-the-board finishes. She raced for three owners, including McDonald, and three trainers, not including Potter, during the year.   
She has not hit the board in seven starts this year.
It will be a surprise if Rachel’s  Girl wins on Friday. But Ludwig and Potter have acted to assure that she will at least end her career and head into a new stage of life with dignity.

Old Friends has two farms in Kentucky and one in New York State.  The farms have about 1,600 retired thoroughbreds, ranging from graded stakes winners to so-called blue collar horses such as Rachel’s Girl.

Old Friends receives financial support from donations and from visitors who pay for tours.
-- Jim Freer

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