Why We Love This Game
Written by Jon K
Compelled to Act
When I set up my Twitter account (@TheDelMarKid), I decided that I wanted it to be mainly based on my hobby – horse racing. As a background, I’ve been a horse racing fan for over 30 years and got my start at Del Mar with my stepdad back in the 80’s. Throughout the years, I’ve worn different hats at the track – handicapper, fan, track ambassador, and now an owner of a retired thoroughbred.
One day as I was spending time on Twitter, I noticed tweets from @NotCloudyAllDay about a horse that wasn’t having much success. Her name was Today Not Tommorow (yes – tomorrow is misspelled). She hadn’t hit the board in 30 starts. Something inside me said maybe she was meant to do something else.
Over the next few months, I kept watching her races at Penn National, and each time she would lose by an average of 20 lengths. I felt bad for her. In my opinion, it wasn’t fair to make this horse continue to go out there and get beat over and over again. I began making phone calls to different horse organizations to learn about thoroughbreds. Thankfully, so many nice people gave me a crash course. I learned that horses are property and that the owners have the control. The only way to get her out of this predicament was to buy her. This would allow me to change her destiny.
After making some calls, I found out that she lived on a farm in Pennsylvania. I began contacting rescue groups in that state. Something not everybody on Twitter might know is that I have been a wheelchair user since the age of three. Flying back to Pennsylvania to look at her for myself was not a possibility. So I had to trust and develop relationships with people close to her. I thought about buying her and moving her to a farm on the East Coast, but every rescue person I spoke with said, “if you care that much about her you need to bring her where you live.”
My next step was finding a place for her near me, and someone who could help retrain her for a second career. I found a video online that Alessandra Deerinck (@Alessandrad13) had made with ex-jockey Julie Krone. As I looked up her resume, she seemed like the perfect fit, and the ranch where she worked was only 30 minutes away. Alessandra then contacted the trainer (he was the main decision maker for the owner) in June of 2015 to see if he was willing to sell her. Sadly, he said no, and I was very disappointed. Then after 37 starts, she suddenly hit the board, finishing third at Mountaineer. At that point, I thought the chances of her being with me in California were over.
I kept my eye on her, and I saw that she raced again in August. This time she lost at Mountaineer by 35 lengths. After that race, things went silent – no works and no races. I was hoping nothing happened to her. Then in October, I got a phone call from Alessandra saying, “You won’t believe who called!” It was the trainer – finally willing to part ways with her.
Over the next month, I built relationships with some truly wonderful people who helped with completing all the necessary paperwork and helped in securing quality transportation to make a journey that far. Then, finally and thankfully, I became an owner of a thoroughbred on November 7th, 2015. After resting on a farm in Pennsylvania for a couple days, Today Not Tommorow then had a layover in Kentucky. It was followed by a one night stop in El Paso before arriving in California.
I had no idea what to expect on that first day. Shockingly, when I drove up in my wheelchair van, she came right up to my window. I then got out and had the chance to feed her a carrot. I couldn’t believe how gentle and friendly she was to everyone (my mom, stepdad and Alessandra).
Because she was starting her second life off the track, I wanted her to have a new name. I had a naming contest for the kids I knew. My niece and my friend’s kids came up with the name Misty, which was a perfect match for her coloring (dapple gray).
Over the last several months, she has been making great progress in her second career training. Thoroughbreds are so useful in ways beyond the track because they are teachable and athletic. Misty wasn’t a winner on the racetrack (38:0-0-1), but I knew that maybe she could do still do other things in her life.
I hope that in the future Misty can work as a therapy horse for kids because of her gentle nature. For now, I visit her as much as I can and bring friends and family to see her. My mom tells everyone that she is her “grandhorse”. I’m so happy that Misty is in my life.
We thank Jon for sharing his story on DanonymousRacing.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheDelMarKid.
If you’ve got a story to share in “Why We Love this Game”, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.