|Thoroughbred Times - August 28, 2010|
THOROUGHBRED TIMES August 28, 2010
More retired racehorses finding homes at Akindale
By Teresa Genaro
Akindale Farm, a breeding and racing operation for more than 35 years, is perhaps best known for a horse that never ran a step in its colors.
Located in Pawling, New York, the farm began breeding and racing in 1973 when John Hettinger began running it. Following Hettinger’s death in 2008, the farm is still home to about 18 broodmares an approximately a dozen homebred foals, who will be raised, broken, and trained at the farm utilizing its turf and woodchip tracks.
Its most famous residents, however, are often the retirees, and there is none at the farm more famous than Evening Attire, a Grade 1 winner who raced nine seasons through age ten and earned $2,977,130. The Black Tie Affair (Ire) gelding arrived courtesy of owners-breeders Joe and Mary Grant and Thomas Kelly following a career in which he won 15 of 69 races.
A steadfast animal welfare activist, Hettinger founded Blue Horse Charities in 2001 to help ensure that Thoroughbreds who can no longer race or breed have safe, comfortable lives. Five years later, Akindale began rescuing horses that could no longer make it on the track. Some of the rescued horses are re-trained and adopted; others live in the farm’s paddocks. The farm is home to approximately 130 rescued or retired racehorses.
Erin Pfister, who runs the farm’s rescue division, said that Evening Attire took about a year to adjust to life off the racetrack. His friend at the farm is Remington, who shares a paddock with him and lives in a nearby stall; when Remington leaves his stall, Evening Attire neighs imperiously, envious of the attention Remington is getting, or annoyed that his pal is no longer in sight.
Evening Attire may be joined soon by a half sibling not as celebrated on the track as he was. Tacticianor, a six-year-old Tactical Cat gelding, was recently discovered at the Sugarcreek Livestock Auction in Ohio, rescued from a likely trip o the slaughterhouse. Pfister said the gelding was shipped to Ohio State University to be treated for significant injuries and maladies.
“He’ll come to Akindale if he can get well enough to travel,” Pfister said. The most recent prognosis was cautiously optimistic.
Tacticianor had raced for Paul and/or Patricia Mann since April 1, 2009, making his final career start on March 1, 2010, when fifth in a $3,500 claiming race at Beulah Park. He lost his first 26 career starts but finished in a dead heat for first in his five-year-old debut in a $4,000 maiden claiming race on January 10, 2009, at Beulah.
Hettinger’s farms carry on his legacy. The breeding, racing, and rescue farms are overseen by boards of directors, and according to Pfister, the care of the horse drives all decisions. Two years after Hettinger’s death, Akindale continues to embody its founder’s vision for racing and humane treatment of horses.
As for the horses bred at Akindale, some will race for the operation while others will be sold at auction. Any horse born at Akindale has a home at the farm for life, and it is not uncommon for horses sold as racing prospects to find their way back to Akindale when their careers end.