Shedrow Secrets: Darned Worthy

The following is our latest installment of “Shedrow Secrets” – first-hand accounts from the heroes who work tirelessly to save Racing’s broken bodies.

Shedrow Secrets

Shedrow Secrets

Darned Worthy
by Joy Aten

Over the course of his racing career, the stunning grey Darned Worthy had at least three strikes against him in the “owner department.” Yet two of those three owners would’ve been considered a couple of racing’s “good folks” by racehorse advocates who are supporters of the industry. So how could it be that Darned Worthy found himself running out of time?…and with an owner – his third and final – who boasted he would rather send his spent and injured racehorses to slaughter than give them to a rescue? How did Darned Worthy spiral to racing’s abyss? Why did his “good” owners allow him to get there, and where were they when he needed them?

A 2003 Florida-bred gelding, Darned Worthy was bred, owned and raced by Marilyn McMaster. The big grey beauty had 16 starts for McMaster, running at Tampa Bay and Calder to Keeneland and Churchill Downs. He ran his final race for her at Mountaineer in June of 2007…Darned Worthy was injured with bone chips in his knee. A few months after that race, McMaster contacted CANTER-MI, wanting to donate her injured gelding to the program as her veterinarian advised he should no longer race. McMaster was a “good” owner – she was donating her injured racehorse instead of continuing to race him or sending him off to slaughter. (Yet CANTER would then be responsible for Darned Worthy’s vetting and probable surgery, rehab, and the cost of his daily care until he could be found a suitable home.) “Good folk”?

Shortly before Darned Worthy was scheduled to come into CANTER, an investigative piece on the abuses in horse racing was aired on Channel 7 out of Detroit. The report – “One Race Too Many” – was filmed at Great Lakes Downs in Muskegon, Michigan and I carried the hidden camera that filmed a trainer admitting he ran injured horses. Many Michigan-based racing owners and trainers saw the televised report and were angry that the cruelties of their “sport” were exposed. Marilyn McMaster was one such owner.

She immediately contacted CANTER’s founder via e-mail and the following are her words: “In my opinion, CANTER ambushed and selected the worst to create shock value which I find despictable (sic). Whether you are still involved in the organization or not, tell them to do not ever expect future support from me. I was willing to give them a beautiful, gray TB gelding who, when we discovered a chip, retired him from racing. If we don’t find another home for him, we will put him down rather than give him to CANTER.” In her anger at having her industry exposed, she spitefully took it out on her injured horse. “Good folk”?

August, 2008. Darned Worthy is entered for a new owner and trainer – Emerald Creek Racing and Jennifer Davis – at Pinnacle Race Course in Michigan. I send an e-mail to Commissioner Christine White, inform her of Darned Worthy’s injury and the vet’s recommendation he no longer race, and request the gelding receive a morning pre-race examination and another thorough inspection in the paddock. I do not receive a reply from White. Several days later, I call Emerald Creek Racing (using my maiden name) to inquire about purchasing Darned Worthy…my “story” is I watch racing at Pinnacle and love the greys…but no, this owner LOVES the gelding and is going to run him some more.

Darned Worthy labors in 5 races for Emerald Creek Racing, once with only 6 days between races and another time with just 8 days in between. In his 5th and last race for them, on October 12, 2008, Darned Worthy is “pulled up” and “vanned off.” Another e-mail is sent to the racing commissioner and again, she doesn’t respond. But this time I didn’t need to call Emerald Creek Racing about purchasing their gelding…they called me…and now they were willing to part with him…for “4 or 5 thousand.” I tried to strike a deal for less, but when it was obvious to them I couldn’t pay several thousand dollars, Darned Worthy suddenly became their “favorite,” was “such a nice guy,” and would be retired to their farm. They valued their bank account more than their “favorite” horse. “Good folks”?

June 16, 2009. Trainer Reid Gross runs Darned Worthy at Pinnacle Race Course and the gallant gelding finishes 3rd. Eleven days later Gross races him again. And again, a 3rd place finish. We know the 6-year-old’s days are numbered…Reid Gross’ used-up racehorses disappear… “I would rather send them to slaughter than give them to a rescue.” So when we see Darned Worthy is entered again, this time at River Downs, we feel we cannot wait a minute longer. But we need another story and a racetrack employee willing to act as a buyer…we come up with both. Gross accepts $1500 but warns our buyer “you won’t be able to jump him – he’s got a bum knee.” We had hoped he would take the $1500 and scratch Darned Worthy from the race, but he was determined to run him once more. While we hold our collective breath, the hard-trying gelding runs his last race on July 10, 2009. “Good folk”?…of course not. But he never pretended to be.

We picked up Darned Worthy on July 16. Within days, he received a full lameness evaluation, which included x-rays. Here, that veterinarian’s findings and recommendations: “Significant arthritic changes. Horse approved for light use only. No jumping, endurance, racing, or extended use – the knee would break down.” We then had Dr. John Stick, equine orthopedic surgeon, view the radiographs as well…his advice: “I agree with the future assessment. Flat work only and will need some meds to keep sound.” Darned Worthy was only six-years-old. Not even in his prime. All three of his racing owners made certain he would never be fully sound. Racing’s “good folks”?…not a single one.

(Darned Worthy was adopted by Dawn Mancina within days of his rescue. As one of her beloved equine family members, he spends his days enjoying life in the company of his own herd. He’s done striking out and is finally with really good folks. Darned Worthy has – at last – a family.)

39 Comments

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  1. Joy,

    Thank you so much for telling this story. Are you going to publish a book ? I hope so. Every person that goes to a racetrack and every person that gambles should be reading these stories.

    Speaking of racing, TVG has bought HRTV and quite a few people were fired from HRTV. I do not know what it means in terms of their finances but they used to produce a show about the racehorses called “Inside Information” and I do not know if TVG will continue to produce the show.

    Does anyone know the inside story of what happened.

  2. I can vouch that every word in this story of Darned Worthy is true. I received that email from Marilyn McMaster. To have to go “undercover” to save a horse that should never have been racing AT ALL, not in Michigan nor in any other state, is unconscionable but it is horseracing. Thank you, Joy, for sharing this story and to Dawn and all the others who saved this horse.

    • I am horse lover much as any but the story of above horse shows no abuse horse had artheritic changes i did not see antthing about fractures or multiple chips you came up empty on this one.As usual will leave my email for ant questions papetim@aol.com

      • Mr. Pape, this is what Dr. Stick (equine orthopedic surgeon at Michigan State) said about Darned Worthy…“I agree with the future assessment. Flat work only and will need some meds to keep sound.” Meds to keep him sound? Bum knee? No abuse? You are either incredibly stupid or delusional. This horse was ONLY six years old. A horse is NOT skeletally developed until they are around six years of age so this horse was barely grown but now is limited to flat work only. No wonder racing is in trouble with people like you as supporters. Oh, and while you are at it, learn how to put a sentence together that is grammatically correct.

      • Tim Pape…the gelding had surgery to remove chips at some point during his racing “career” per Emerald Creek Racing. Although I’m not certain who footed the bill for that surgery, the issue was he was not to return to racing after the surgery per the vet who performed it. But of course, he did…and it left him lacking total soundness for life. Looks like it’s just you who “came up empty”.

  3. Darned Worthy (now known as Primo Salvo) is alive today because of the perseverance and tenacity of Joy Aten. She spent years trying to get him into safe hands. In my eyes, “good people” in racing is an oxymoron. Thank you to Joy, Joanne Normile and everyone involved with seeing to it that my boy did not end up another casualty. He is thriving today with his equine and human family and friends. He is living the Life of Riley now, as all these mighty warriors deserve. He ended up inside my heart instead of someone’s else’s belly, and for that I am forever grateful.

  4. Joy,

    What a great story about “Darned Worthy”, he is so lucky to have found such a loving home, where he can live out his days with his own herd, the way it should be.

    If you are ever in a position where you are trying to rescue a horse from the dismal abyss of racing, I would be more than happy to send you a contribution of a couple hundred dollars, to help you out with the costs to purchase him. I know it is not a great deal of money, but I contribute to many charities and try to spread the money I have around for the animals. Let me know if you have an horse who needs urgent rescue, I will help you as much as I can.

    Marlene Thornley

    • Thank you, Marlene…that is very kind and I truly appreciate that. There is always a racehorse (or 2 or 3 or 4…) that we are actively working on to rescue from racing. I will certainly reach out to you when we need some financial help…thank you!!

      I am also asking folks to pay CLOSE ATTENTION to the equine rescues they donate to. There are rescue organizations that still support racing (you’ll see their posts about routing on some particular Derby contender or the like)…yet, their rescue is FULL of the industry’s “throw-aways”! Now WHY would I want to donate my hard-earned dollars to an organization that supports (even verbally) the very industry that cripples and discards and kills the horses that I love?!?…not to mention, those rescue organizations are FAILING to truly enlighten the public and therefore from discouraging others of racing industry support. In the end, the very existence of the horse racing industry = equine suffering and death. So please be aware of that. If you don’t know which equine rescues support horse racing, just ask them “Are you ANTI-RACING?”…if they are an honest organization, they should give you an honest answer. Or email me…I can fill you in.

      • Joy,

        Thank you for the enlightenment regarding the equine rescue organizations that support racing. I certainly would not know the difference, and before I donate to a rescue in the future, I will definitely check it out with you. You are so knowledgeable about this industry, and all of their deceptive practices. I continue to learn more every day, thanks to you, Kathleen, Patrick, and many of the posters here. I definitely don’t want my money going to any organization that supports the racing industry.

        Remember, you can count on me financially when you come across a horse that is in desperate need of rescuing. I will immediately send you out a check. I’m sure you have Patrick’s personal e-mail address, just ask him to give you my e-mail address. I don’t want to send it to you here, because I don’t want to be flooded with requests, since this is a public forum. The work you are doing saving these horses is phenomenal, and heroic. You are a bright shining light, where there is so much darkness. Marlene Thornley

      • Joy, the majority of rescues, that take in OTTB’s, are pro-racing including New Vocations, CANTER, ReRun, and Beyond The Roses. In fact, Dot Morgan, who started New Vocations, makes her living in the Standardbred racing industry. She once told me that she injects her horses “all the time to keep them going”. Therefore, Morgan is part of the problem. Also, Michael Blowen (Old Friends) is not only a supporter of racing, but he is a bettor, as well. Of course, we also have Remember Me Rescue in Texas. Donna and Dallas Keen are immersed in racing, too. On the flip side, at least they pick up a few broken bodies that their industry exploits.

    • Marlene…forgot to mention…a couple hundred dollars is a GREAT DEAL of money!! That is extremely generous! Comparatively to what the racing industry does for its OWN “athletes, it is huge. We all know that the majority of help for discarded racehorses comes from the non-race public, while the industry throws its “spare change” at them.

    • Marlene, thank you for your generous offer. Yes, $200 is a LOT of money when we are trying to “rescue” a horse from this sinister industry. You are an angel for the horses!

      • Mary,

        I am shocked that Michael Blowen (Old Friends) is a supporter of racing and a bettor. Here I thought “Old Friends” was staunchly against the racing industry. Even though they are doing good work with the throughbreds, I don’t feel comfortable sending them contributions knowing this.

        Have you or Joy ever heard of “Dreamchaser Horse Rescue & Rehabilitation, or their founder “Susan Thompson”? I just received their literature and was going to send a donation, but I am not sure if they are pro-racing.

        You and Joy, and so many others on this blog, who are actively rescuing throughbreds, are doing such crucial work, as the need is so great. I admire your inspiring efforts and compassion.

        My family’s pleasure horses (quarter horses) were so loved by us, they were just as important, if not more, than the rest of my family. I cannot understand how these owners who claim they love their horses so much, could part with them once they are no longer competitive, or become injured. I would spend my last dime to save any of my animals. Loyalty and love seem to go out the window when it comes to money. Joy is right, the horses always lose out when it comes to money. There is not a stitch of integrity when it comes to this disgusting industry. It is ripe with lies, and deceit, and the horses are paying the price, while they sip their mint juleps.
        Marlene Thornley

      • Marlene, a few years ago, Joy and I went to Old Friends with a donation ($500) in honor of Slade, a wonderful stallion destroyed by racing. When we got there, we were told that Blowen was at Saratoga betting on the horses. Therefore, Blowen stood us up and had a farm worker fill in for him. Yes, Blowen is very much pro-racing and a bettor, as well.

        However, Blowen does a great job with the stallions. It is extremely difficult to place stallions. When I took Slade into my barn, I had to send by mare to a boarding stable which was not only inconvenient, but costly. Most rescues play both sides of the fence, so to speak. They have to play nice with the racing industry, at least publicly, but privately they will sometimes speak out against racing. Hypocritical, at best. Of course, if you speak out against racing, racing will blackball you and you may not get funding. Joy can even give you the page number from the TAA rules which states that you can’t speak negatively about racing to get any funding. Yes, racing is a bully industry. You must play by their rules.

        I’ve heard of Dreamchaser Horse Rescue but don’t know anything about them. Perhaps Joy, or someone else, can give you more info. If you have a FB account, you can always ask the question on your page.

      • Mary,

        Thanks for the information, it is very enlightening. After giving much thought as to how I am going to spread my contributions around to all the animals, I have decided to concentrate my efforts financially between you and Joy, and the rescue of throughbreds in dire need of saving. I feel that the throughbred’s needs are critical, as other animals have more protections in place, where the throughbred has none.

        You and Joy share the highest degree of integrity, and I KNOW without a doubt the good work you are doing will directly benefit each throughbred in need of rescuing. There is no middle man, or administrative costs, I know every penny will go to the horse, whereas, with charities, you never really know how much of your money is going to support the animals. I believe that you and Joy, and Kathleen, Patrick, and so many others on this blog share the same heart, soul, and mindset where the throughbred is concerned. Our hearts are in the right place, and I share that same affinity with all of you. Thanks again. Marlene Thornley

      • Marlene, thank you so much for your generous offer. Joy and I are ALWAYS working on getting a horse out of a bad situation. We have followed many horses in our Virtual Stable and the majority of those horses have just disappeared. I’m sure a few have ended up in a good place but many have entered the slaughter pipeline. Joy alerted me to a post today where there were a few TB’s in a kill pen at an auction. One was an older TB broodmare that had lost her 2015 foal. The motto of the racing industry is breed, breed, breed and then dump, dump, dump. It broke my heart but there was nothing I could do. I can only save a couple here and there, but the racing industry is throwing them away faster than I can even say “they’re gone”. Patrick wrote about a poor little filly by the name of Halos and Angels earlier this year. I sometimes wonder where she is and why she was unfortunate enough to end up with the bastards that owned and raced her. She may reappear but I doubt it. There are so many…thousands and thousands.

        I will reach out to Patrick and ask him to send me your email. I will then share my email, and Joy’s, with you. We are currently trying to get a horse out of Mountaineer and I am personally following another sad soul that is still being raced. I will share the info with you through email.

    • Jo Anne Blackstone, I do recall this has happened but only when there is a death or very serious injury to the jockey, not the horse. At those times, I have also seen where the trainer and even the owners of the horse (who may not have known its condition as those owners that are not trainer/owners rarely are told there is a problem with their horse because the trainer doesn’t want to lose the “day rate” they are receiving for training) in addition to the racetrack being sued. The stewards (employed by the racing commision to “oversee” racing) can also scratch horses from racing and in this case, the racing commissioner herself was called and refused to act. More proof that the further injury or death of the horse is meaningless.

  5. I worked at Exhibition Park in Vancouver as a groom for 7 years in the evenings – I never saw anything bad luckily – the trainer had one horse go lame with bone chips in his senovial fluid and he gave him to me free – we shipped him to our farm in the Gulf Islands where he lived out his life with the regular herd once he figured out how to eat grass – his name was Module Command by Command Module – he died of old age RIP

  6. Mary,

    On the subject of Tricolette.

    PLease let me know that you have seen this post.

    Maggi emailed me that she had not talked to Jeff yet and that she would call him on Wednesday when she got back into town so i picked up the phone and called him today as I was concerned about Tricolette.

    I just got off the phone with Jeff Radosevich. He still owns the horse. He said he did not like the way that she ran in the last race on that particular surface. He said she runs better on poly or synthetic .He said that she is for sale if someone wants to buy her. He also said that she is sound and he will be racing her again in a claiming race for 5,000 at Prescow in Pennsylvania.

    He said he has put money into her so he won’t sell her for 1 or 2 thousand dollars but he will sell her for less than 5,000 or he will run her at Prescow.

    Maggi owned the horse for two months and then Jeff bought her from Maggi. So she is still alive and sound but is going to be put into a claiming race.

    After he told me that, I told Jeff that friends of mine were concerned that she might be on her way to the slaughterhouse.

    He said no she was not. If someone does not buy her, she will be on her way to another claiming race.

    I have his email so I will contact him and ask him to let me know when she will be racing again.

    • Yes, Kathleen, I have seen your post. I mentioned to you, once before, to go to http://www.equibase.com and you will see a wealth of info on horses, trainers, owners, etc. if Tricolette is racing in claiming races, she is “for sale”…that is what a claiming race is. On Equibase, you will see that at the start of her career, she was racing in $25,000 claiming races, then dropped down into $12,500 claimers and now she is racing in $5,000 claimers. Low level, to be sure. Since you reached out to Ms. Moss, I would ask Moss to claim her when she runs again. Ms. Moss is in racing for the MONEY and admits it is a business for her. Moss will be able to find Tricolette a place to go. She has plenty of connections in the sinister imdustry of horseracing. In fact, I bet Moss could buy this horse for $3000. Please remind Moss, when you speak to her, that it is horses like Tricolette that allow her to participate in an industry that gives her a thrill a minute! The horses aren’t thrilled but Moss certainly is.

      You can put Tricolette in your Virtual Stable and you will get alerts as to when she will be racing a few days ahead of time. From what Radosevich told you, she will be running at Presque Isle next. Go to http://www.equibase.com and on the left you will see a tab called Virtual Stable. Click on that and you can enter her, and any other horse, into your own stable. If u can’t figure out how to accomplish that, send me a message (you have my email) and give me ur phone number. I will call u and walk you through it.

    • Kathleen….there is an article you need to read…I’ll post it in my next comment. It’s lengthy. Moss told you she sold Tricolette to Radosevich? Wow…Ms. Moss spins stories faster than a cotton candy machine puts out that sweet treat.

      • Joy,

        All Maggi told me is that she only owned Tricolette for two months. Radosevich is the one that told me about Pippin. He asked me if I knew Pippin because he had a bad experience with Pippin and I said I had no idea who he was talking about. I told him i was calling because friends of mine were concerned about the horse since she came in last during her last race and that is when he told me she was sound and that she was for sale.

      • Kathleen, well this is very confusing because in an earlier post you stated, “Maggi owned the horse for two months and then Jeff bought her from Maggi.”

        So I’m not going to beat a dead horse anymore. Ms. Moss can figure out a way to get the two horses she sold to Pippin to safety…Tricolette, with Radosevich who stated he doesn’t keep horses that don’t win, and the filly Ide Love Lucy…she’s never won a race and has not raced since June of last year. They are just as deserving of love and a life as any winners. Makes me sick.

      • Joy,

        All Maggi said was that she only owned Tricollette for two months. She said that in an email. that was all she said except for that she would call Jeff on Wednesday. She was out of town. She gave no details about Pippin or Jeff.

        I called Jeff on Monday because I was worried about the horse. Jeff is the one that told me that Pippin was a crook and ripped people off including him. He thought I was calling on behalf of Pippin. I had no idea who Pippin was until I read the article you connected me to.

    • Here is the article. You’ll need to go down to where you’ll see a photo of Moss in order to read about Moss and Tricolette. So to WHOM did Moss tell you she sold Tricolette to?…did she tell you she dealt with scammer Pippin?…and THAT is who she “sold” Tricolette to? And likely, only after she never received payment for Tricolette from Pippin, did she THEN sell the horse to Radosevich. Unless Pippin gave Radosevich the poor horse as partial payment for the money he owed him.

      Tricolette is going to labor at the bottom, like other “cogs” in this life-sucking industry do…so folks like Moss and the like can get that “feeling of exhilaration”. Absolutely sick.

      OK, can’t get the link to the Paulick Report article to copy. Will try again…my computer is down and I’m doing this on my phone.

    • Kathleen, for the second time, you need to put Tricolette in your Virtual Stable. Then you can follow her. Read my previous comment about how to do that. If you are still having problems, send me an email with your phone number and I will call you.

      Tell Moss to get her story straight. Yes, Joy is right. Moss sold Tricolette to a “scammer”. If Moss states otherwise, she is not only an exploiter, but she is a liar.

    • Kathleen, I believe that Ms. Moss just received an “outstanding” honor. She was named “Owner of the Year” at the Fairgrounds in Louisiana. Patrick just did a story on all the horses, at that track, that died in the dirt. Perhaps Moss could concentrate on cleaning up the carnage at her beloved track! Please suggest it to her when the two of you chat.

  7. Joy, thank you for this story on Darned Worthy. Your dedication and tenacity is amazing and the outcome for Darned Worthy is a great comfort knowing that he could finally be a horse in the care of Dawn Mancina and no longer suffering and being at the mercy of the so called “good folks” in the racing industry.

    SHAME ON MARILYN MCMASTER, EMERALD CREEK RACING, JENNIFER DAVIS AND REID GROSS AND COMMISSIONER CHRISTINE WHITE in particular for not taking action on the information given to you in writing by Joy Aten. Ms White, as you would be aware it is your legal and moral obligation to ensure that you abide by the duty of care in relation to the welfare of a racehorse. How dare you not place an embargo on Darned Worthy when you received evidence (substantiated by a veterinarian) that this horse was not fit to race.
    You should be sacked. You DISGUST me.

  8. I can’t speak for all owners, breeders, etc., in the Thoroughbred racing industry, but as an owner & breeder, I can say with all honestly, that there are indeed ‘good people’ in the industry. I personally am a breeder that has time & time again, stood up and taken a horse in that was sired by my stallion (even before my time) or owned by myself when needed. I have taken many horses from Reid Gross and other trainers and found homes from them on many occasions. I’ve said before & will say again, people need to work together & not immediately INSULT others because they don’t share the same opinion.

    • Oh wow. Where do I start? I’m so sick, tired, and fed-up with responding to these type of comments, but I do it for the voiceless racehorses.
      Is there something seriously wrong with you?
      No?
      Okay then have you even grasped the magnitude of the pain, suffering, cruelty, abuse, beating/whipping, doping, corruption, dumping and/or dying of all racehorses?
      There’s not one racehorse that is not subjected to one or all of these operating procedures.
      If you even had one iota of love for thoroughbreds than 1. You would not be breeding. You would not contribute to the unwanted OTTB problem Being a breeder that qualifies you as part of the problem – huge problem. 2. Unwanted broodmares that are a great contributor to the hormone mare farms whereby they are tethered to the wall 24/7 with a collection place over their vagina. Baby after baby ripped away. Now you can’t honestly tell me that you have looked after every single broodmare that has crossed your hands. 3. You are breeding to fill this mandate of ongoing cruelty and abuse because that’s what your sending your babies that YOU BREED into the cruelty circus, and death camp. 4. Don’t think that your a hero because you “rescue” and “re-home” the TB’s that YOU brought into this world. That should be a given so it doesn’t qualify you as good.
      5.Anybody who supports and/or participates in this cruelty circus, and death camp is NOT GOOD.
      You don’t have to be the abuser, but you certainly are an enabler of the abuse.
      I don’t give a flying f*ck if I insult you – God forbid.
      I have no problem insulting somebody who supplies the slave masters with the slaves.
      I don’t give a damn if we don’t share the same opinion.
      What I do give a damn about is racehorses dying in the dirt, but prior to their death they were cruelly confined, and exploited right down to every bone, tendon, ligament, and whatever else way they find to pick up a buck.
      You obviously don’t give a damn because if you did then we would share the same opinion, and you would stop supplying horses for a life of exploitation.
      So go peddle your pathetic BS on one of your pro-horse racing supporters.

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