The Tragedy of Broodmares
An Animal Rights Article from

December 2020

Where do all the broodmares go when their productive days are over? To bucolic pastures in the Kentucky Bluegrass? Don’t bet on it.

Broodmare Juel
Juel, tagged for slaughter

Where do all the broodmares go when their productive days are over? To bucolic pastures in the Kentucky Bluegrass? Don’t bet on it. We often hear the word “aftercare” emanating from the mouths of the racing apologists as they try to peddle the belief that the industry cares about its horses and will provide for them at the end of their “careers.” Of course, those of us who have been in the trenches know that this is just a fallacy propagated by a gambling industry based on the exploitation of the Thoroughbred racehorse. Day after day, week after week, and month after month, we see the TBs who are crammed into kill pens begging for their lives, their bodies battered and bruised. Truth is, the horses who are visible are actually the lucky ones, because most go direct to kill, quietly disappearing into the underground slaughter pipeline...never to be seen or heard from again.

For the last year or so, I have been contemplating writing a Shedrow Secrets story about a particular group of vulnerable horses who, once “retired” from the track, are relegated to the dark, shadowy corners of the sinister world of horseracing – the broodmares. Here are the stories of four.

OUR MIMS – Our Mims is a mare who is well known to those familiar with racing. She was foaled 3/8/74 at Calumet Farm and was a multiple-graded-stakes winner who “earned” over $368,000, a remarkable sum for the 1970s. In August ’78, OM fractured her RF cannon bone and was retired to the broodmare band at Calumet, where she produced eleven foals over the years. When Calumet went into bankruptcy, she was sold through a dispersal sale at Keeneland in November ’90. Years later, OM was discovered abandoned and forgotten in a cattle field by Jeanne Mirabito. Ms. Mirabito, who had fallen in love with Our Mims as a teenager, went on to provide her with a wonderful home until Our Mims’ death in 2003.

JUEL DELITE – Juel Delite was foaled in Canada on 4/15/10. She never raced, but instead was relegated to the breeding shed, producing three foals by the age of seven. When Juel was deemed barren in March ’18, her owners dumped her at a local riding camp and within a month of her post-pregnancy check, she moved through Unadilla – a NY auction – and eventually landed in the most notorious horsemeat holding hub in the northeast – Bruce Rotz’s Pennsylvania Kill Pen. When Juel was discovered on April 15 (her eighth birthday), she was guarding what was left of her wasted body…trapped in a kill pen, thick with overcrowding.

As Juel’s deadline to ship to slaughter loomed, Susan Kayne, who runs a rescue in upstate NY, requested and received funds from her supporters. In a twist of fate, Juel was stabled across the street from Bill Barone’s Sunny Crest Farm, the same farm where she raised two of her three foals. As she looked out from her stall window, one wonders what memories of those vanished days lived in her mind.

Horses Juel
Juel, after being saved

It is unclear if Barone, owner of Sunny Crest, donated toward Juel’s “save.” At one point he agreed to chip in $100, but it is unclear if he ended up doing so. He told Ms. Kayne he had spent $4,000 trying to get Juel in foal and when he couldn’t, he gave her away. The systemic apathy is astounding but not surprising, as this same scenario plays out regularly. Juel was eventually rehabbed, her dignity was restored, and she was adopted and is doing remarkably well. She is now awakening to the grace of a new life and is loved for who she is…not for what profits she can generate.

SINGASONG – The story of Singasong is extremely hard for me to write and her saga still brings tears to my eyes. SAS was foaled at Marablue Farm in Ocala, Florida, on 2/4/03 and was sold for $60,000 through Keeneland as a yearling. Her sire was Songandaprayer, winner of almost $400,000, and her dam was Ribbony (more about her later). Her grandsire was Unbridled’s Song who won the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 1995. SAS raced at five different tracks for various owners and trainers, winning a paltry $20,000 before being “retired” and sent to the breeding shed.

SAS produced nine foals that we know of, including a 2020 filly born on March 10 for her last owner, James Canada…the SAME owner for whom she produced four other foals and the SAME owner who allowed her to walk her sick, skinny body into the livestock auction in Cleburne, Texas, where Canada KNEW she would most likely be purchased by a kill buyer and sold for meat. Remember, too, that she had just had a foal weaned from her a month or so prior. Although funds were raised for her “save” (by Susan Kayne and her supporters), no one could protect her from the sickness she contracted while in the slaughter pipeline.

Broodmare Singasong
Singasong, in the kill pen

James Canada’s response: “She wasn’t producing what I wanted so I took her to the Cleburne auction” – where, I repeat, he KNEW kill buyers would be present. When informed Singasong had been tagged and sorted for slaughter, Canada said, “Well, I’m sorry to hear that.” Canada did not contribute ANY funds to help her, and on the very day she was saved, the Texas Thoroughbred Association was welcoming Canada and his wife, Reeta, back into their ranks with a “special” Facebook post. Beyond repulsive.

Funds were raised and Singasong left Texas and arrived at quarantine on October 14. Within a day or two, her condition worsened and she began bleeding from both nostrils. On October 17, she was sent to NC State for evaluation: “Singasong had evidence of endotoxemia and marked dehydration, secondary to advanced pleuropneumonia. Due to the extensive lung damage detected on ultrasound, signs of sepsis, and a poor prognosis for life, humane euthanasia was elected.”

SAS was euthanized on October 19. The necropsy report says: “Findings revealed severe, subacute, regionally extensive fibrinosuppurative pleuropneumonia with regionally extensive pleural fibrosis, and moderate, multifocal fibrinous pleuritis with moderate serosanguinois effusion. We are sorry for your loss. She was a lovely mare.”

Singasong gave her life to the racing industry…bred, raced and dumped by those who supposedly loved her like “family.” As I’ve said before, when you use an animal FOR profit, you OWE that animal something in return. It has nothing to do with being a hero. It has to do with being a decent human being, something an industry that uses them up and spits them out is sorely lacking.

I think it is important to mention Ribbony, the dam of Singasong. Ribbony is a half sister to four stakes horses, including Risen Star, winner of both the Preakness and Belmont. Ribbony had seven foals and was run through five public auctions. She sold at the Keeneland November ’99 sale for $300,000. In January ’06, she was purchased by Clark Brewster, a “hot shot” attorney who has been mentioned on this site before. Instead of retiring her to his big, green pastures, he sold her at the ’08 Heritage Place sale in Oklahoma, where she fetched $800. She hasn’t been heard from since.

NANNY GOAT – I have a personal interest in discarded broodmares because I have one. Her name is Nanny Goat. In October ’17, a former industry contact reached out to me about a 17-year-old broodmare owned by his father. Nanny could get into foal but couldn’t carry to full term so now it was time to unload her. She had moved through multiple auctions after her brief, unsuccessful racing career. But three years in a row her reserve was not met and she was a three-time “no sale” at the Keeneland January Sale. Finally, at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Sale, she was purchased for $2,000. Her exploitation as a broodmare would continue for another two and a half years.

broodmare Nanny Goat
Nanny Goat, while still in servitude

Nanny had eight foals, the best being Erasmo’s Dream who won $156,000. After being exploited in the breeding shed over many years, she was “done”; used up and unable to carry a foal, it was time to “unload” her. Rose Smith and I worked feverishly to place her, contacting multiple rescues, including Equine Advocates, Lucky Orphans, and Our Mims. All were full with waiting lists, (one was two years out). Finding a horse a safe place to land is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. In December ’17, Rose and I finally found an Ohio rescue that agreed to take Nanny. Within a year and a half, Nanny was once again “at risk” as the rescue was closing and the president suggested Nanny be euthanized because she was losing weight and wasn’t “thriving.” Nanny wasn’t thriving for one simple reason…she wasn’t being adequately fed. In late July ’19, I was fed up with the ineptitude. I stepped up for Nanny and two other underweight horses, and the president signed all three over to me.

Nanny Goat’s days of exploitation are over. She is at peace with me, happy in her little herd where nothing is expected of her and she is no longer being forced into the servitude of the breeding industry. She is almost 21 now and is enjoying the best time of her life. I wish all horses were as fortunate.

Broodmare Nanny Goat
Nanny Goat, safe on my farm

The stories of these broodmares needed to be told. Unfortunately, there are thousands more just like them. Those who do not meet the expectations of owners are the most vulnerable for going to slaughter. No safeguard for their protection is mandated or funded by the racing industry. The Program Director for the largest TB transitioning program in the country once told me that “all horses need a job even if that job is being a low level broodmare.” How prophetic her words were as she capitulates to an industry that breeds, breeds, breeds, then dumps, dumps, dumps.

Over this past weekend, four more mares were spotted in Bruce Rotz’s kill pen: Special Skippy, Doitforbob, Himmah, and Cupola. Funds are being raised (two are safe) but my question is why do they need to be saved by those not involved with racing? Why didn’t their connections provide for them when these mares were brought onto this earth? Why wasn’t a certain amount of money set aside to be used for retirement when their productive days were over? Every single person who profited from their labors is responsible for their long term welfare. EVERY... SINGLE... ONE. 

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