The 23-year-old native of Morristown, N.J., won last Saturday’s $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes aboard Brereton Jones’ Believe You Can for trainer Larry Jones. However, she cancelled off all her mounts Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday at Fair Grounds to allow herself time to recover from two sore legs suffered in a pre-race starting gate mishap earlier this month before returning to riding Friday.
Irish-born jockey James Graham, who won the riding title at Chicago’s Arlington Park last summer, entered Friday’s program as runner-up in the New Orleans oval’s standings with 46 wins. In third position was Peruvian-born Miguel Mena with 40 trips to the winner’s circle at the current local session including two winners Thursday afternoon.
HUSBAND-WIFE TEAM SERVING AS KEEN OBSERVERS OF LOCAL EQUINE WELFARE – Guests of Fair Grounds Thursday who stayed for the entire program may have noticed a dapper individual in a black cowboy hat who ran across the track to try and catch an errant horse that lost its rider following the last race of the day.
That individual was Fair Grounds-based trainer Dallas Keen, and although the loose horse was not one of his, the incident served as a small sampling of the care and concern that the vast majority of horse people give to all members of the equine breed.
Donna Keen, wife of Dallas and co-founder along with her husband of Remember Me Rescue in Burleson, Texas, has also had her hands full this week after rescuing six more extremely malnourished horses seized from a farm in northwestern Louisiana earlier this month. Remember Me Rescue was officially founded in 2008 as a non profit organization to rehabilitate and retrain ex-racehorses with the hopes of finding them new homes.
However, due to the deplorable conditions of the animals rescued from that farm in Sabine Parish, whose owner has been charged with animal cruelty, organizations like the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association and Remember Me have stepped up to the plate.
It’s no easy commute between New Orleans and suburban Fort Worth, but with a string of Thoroughbreds in training at Fair Grounds and another 18 rescues at Remember Me (their normal limit is 10) the Keens have kept on keeping on.
“We’ve all had a lot of problems to face these last few days,” said Donna Keen this week, “but at times like this, we all have to suck it up and do what we got to do. What is really encouraging to see is some of the donations we’ve gotten from our fellow trainers here and around the country. Guys like Graham Motion (trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom) sent us a donation, but so did local trainers like Danny Pish, Michelle Lovell and Hilary Pridham.”
Fair Grounds also kicked in a $2,500 gift to Remember Me and Louisiana Horse Rescue to help relocate the neglected horses.
“We’ve called in some local 4-H Clubs to our farm so they can bring in their members and teach them how to care for injured Thoroughbreds,” said Keen. “We’re trying to make something good out of a very bad situation.”
The latest arrivals earlier this week at Remember Me include Be Bop Baby, an extremely thin 15-year-old mare who was too weak to travel when originally rescued.
“Now, she is here with us, safe, dry and no longer hungry,” advised Keen. “High On Punch also arrived Monday. He is severely underweight but seems sound. He has a very sweet disposition and for now is quiet and content with all the attention he is getting from everyone here.”
The poster child for Remember Me Rescue is former Texas Horse of the Year Lights On Broadway, a former stakes winner of a half-million dollars who fell down through the cracks of the claiming ranks before arriving at Remember Me a couple of years ago.
“Now, he’s become a bridle-less riding horse for me,” said Keen. “I ride him around the farm and sit on his back while I change the light bulbs in the barn.”
To make an online donation to Remember Me Rescue and the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association, visit http://www.FairGroundsRaceClourse.com/Shop.