'Exceller' was the only horse in American racing history to defeat two Triple Crown winners. In the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup, 'Exceller' bested both 'Seattle Slew' and 'Affirmed.' Neither 'Ferdinand' nor 'Exceller' had any retirement at all. They were brutally slaughtered at the direction of their owners in Japan and Sweden when they failed to pass their talents to their offspring.
On July 20, 2007, the California Horse Racing Board announced that they will request a paltry 0.3% of a purse be donated to finance retirement homes for horses that race in California. To the state of California's credit, horse slaughter was banned there in 1998. Despite that, progress remains slow for improved welfare of retired Thoroughbred racehorses. Of course, this very promising idea originated with author Bill Heller as he established the 'Ferdinand Fee.' There is an 'out' clause regarding these small fees; they are voluntary! This is like loose change!! The fees should be absolutely mandatory.
Every horse owner must have a retirement plan in place whether or not the horse is a tremendous athlete such as 'Ferdinand' and 'Exceller' were, or a service horse such as a Mounted Police horse (many MPUs including Lexington, Kentucky do not have a retirement plan for their equine officers), or a beloved companion. Michael Blowen of Old Friends recovers as many studs standing overseas as he can, however, he cannot take them all, even if it were possible to buy all the studs and bring them home. The famous horses are not the only horses deserving of a safe retirement. The Thoroughbred industry is making a positive move, albeit a very weak one. They must do better. We all must do better.
Please note: There are links to pedigrees and racing videos in the content of this blog.
Manes and Tails Organization