The Best Claim
Holy Cow is a 2000 dark bay gelding by the great Holy Bull
We haven't really been involved in the claiming side of racing, but we have claimed a few horses over the years at client request. Of course, we aren't against entering our horses into claiming races because sometimes that is the class level they will be competitive in. A lot of times a trainer will take a horse that doesn't fit into their program, whether it is because of the level they need to compete in to make money or due to issue the horse may be having, and place them in a low class claiming race with intentions for the horse to be claimed (bought out of the race) or so it will earn a big check by hitting the board (finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th) in the race.
In the summer of 2004, we were blessed with such a horse when a client asked us to claim a horse by the name of Holy Cow. He had incredible bloodlines being sired by Holy Bull (Read a great story about Holy Bull) and he had a decent race record with one win in six starts that was an impressive 15 3/4 length victory. After the race he was claimed out of he passed out. We had him treated and gave him a small break to recover from whatever caused him to lose oxygen and in turn pass out. During this break he recovered quickly and was back to training and ready for the races again. Cow showed us in his next races that something wasn't right. For some reason he was losing oxygen at his top speeds and in one of the following races he passed out again. Upon doing some research we discovered that he possibly had a genetic disorder passed down from his mare line. He is out of the Conquistador Ceilo mare, Sky Meadows, who produced the 1.3 million dollar earner and multiple stakes winning Dixie Dot Com who died from an unusual medical disorder. After recognizing what Cow needed in his training regimen to perform well, he had an exciting 3rd place finish with no issues after the race. We had him figured out and was looking forward to his career taking a step up. In December, shortly after the 3rd place finish, he was entered into another race and the day before the race, he had what the vet believed was a stroke. We found him down in his stall in the morning. Cow was not the same animal and he was unable to get up for hours. Eventually we were able to coax him into standing up and against vet recommendation to humanely put him down, we nursed him back to health. He needed so much attention as he endured the long recovery and lost weight due to lack of being able to use his muscles properly. In the meantime, his owner knew he was in good hands and ended up giving us the horse knowing he would never race again. There were days that Mark had to help him get up because once he laid down; he didn't have the strength or coordination to get up on his own. We were able to let Cow roam the yard knowing he would stay close. It took years for Cow to be able to jog or gallop in the pasture. The days we first saw him move in a way other than walking, we were so happy! He became our dear companion and friend in the days he recovered. Eventually he was able to be ridden and worked into becoming a lead pony here at the farm where Mark would use him to teach the freshly broke horses to lead with a pony. Cow loves his job of training babies, being the "I want to ride a horse" horse for visitors to the farm and a trail horse for that very rare occasion when the opportunity presents itself. Cow loves keeping guard over the broodmare band and is a surrogate parent to the many foals that grace the pasture with their mommas. It took a few years, but he gained his weight and muscle back. He may have been "dropped" into a cheap claiming race by his previous trainer for the purpose of a sell, but he became a great pet for our family and has found a forever home!