I had a dream. My horse Shandoka, who died four years ago, was standing inside a barn with another horse. I wasn’t sure who the horse was. He didn’t look like Mojo or any of my horses. He was thin and tired. I approached him to say hello, but each time I tried, Shandoka herded him away from me. I finally saw the other horse’s face, and he had an interesting white blaze down his face. The phrase, “Not now,” entered into my mind as I woke up. In a few days I would know for sure that this was Mintz.
When I began writing this, Fish Trappe Road was on his way to Connecticut after a long stint racing in Puerto Rico. He is a stakes winning racehorse that somewhere along the line found himself on a ship to Puerto Rico to race at Camarero. This is usually a one way ticket for for horses as most never make it back to the states. Luckily, after a lot of effort by many, especially by Kelley Stobie of Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare and Sherrie Courtney of Racing For Home, they were able to secure his retirement. Fisher is now at his forever home in Connecticut with my friend Sherrie Courtney.
A horse on my radar needed help as well and fast. This is the story ab0ut how a bunch of people came together to help a horse by Candy Ride named Mintz who also ended up on a boat to Puerto Rico and nearly raced to his death.
I had my eye on Mintz for a long time, and while CTA worked feverishly to raise money to get FTR and nine other thoroughbreds back to the states, I worried about Mintz. He hadn’t raced in two months after he was scratched on January 28th. Horses in Puerto Rico often run every two weeks, and if they can’t, it’s not good for them.
On October 10, 2021, Royal Flag won the Beldame at Belmont. She is by Candy Ride as is Mintz. Mintz raced a few days later finishing third. Even though it was third, there was something about the way he moved that bothered me. I went out to spend time with Dulce, who is also by the great Candy Ride. I looked deep into his eyes, and he buried his head into my heart. It is something he does, a moment that I love, and I thought about Royal Flag and Mintz on such different stages. It was a moment that caused me to walk back into the house and make a commitment to Mintz. I wrote to my friend Chrissy who works with CTA asking if anyone had vouched for him. Nobody had so I filled out the paperwork. He raced three more times in Puerto Rico and vanished.
When FTR was in quarantine awaiting to leave for Miami, I wrote to Kelley about Mintz. The dream haunted me, and my red flag wasn’t just waving; it was in a gale force wind. Two months and still not a race. When he was scratched back in December, Mintz had a bout of colic. I wondered if he did again and was put down.
She wrote back after speaking with the owner saying he still had Mintz. He didn’t state why he wasn’t racing however. Kelley reminded the owner that he had a home when he was ready to retire him. Although, I was relieved to hear that Mintz was alive, my red flag was still up and flying hard. I kept asking silently for the forces that be to help this horse.
The following Friday Kelley wrote asking me to call. This is when I learned about Mintz’s condition. She would be sending me x-rays. FTR was preparing to fly out the next day. Filled with joy and anxiety at the same time for these two horses, I planned on where to put Mintz. I decided he could go by Chaco, and they could be companions for one another. I would loop his corral around, so he could intermingle with the other horses including his half brother Dulce over the fence. They are the same age, and how great would it be for them to be together?
Then the x-rays came, and I received some scary news. He was bad lame. The x-rays looked pretty bad, so I sent them off to several racing vets and my surgeons for their opionion. They were going to put him down that Friday morning, but Kelley stopped them saying that he had a home with me. If I never would have asked Kelley to check on him, he would have been put down.
Mintz was purchased by Centennial Farms for $320,000 at the Keenland September sale as a yearling. He won his second time out, and stayed up in the Northeast for awhile. To be honest with you, I’m not sure Mintz was ever a fan of racing, but that didn’t matter; he had a loyal fan base. There were good races and not so good races. I watched him from afar with a special place in my heart, because I am a huge fan of Candy Ride. Also, I liked Centennial Farms. They seemed like a good organization that truly cared for their horses. He traveled south to Gulfstream where he was put in a claiming race, and that is when he fell into the devil’s hands; the Navarro barn. The Navarro barn claimed Mintz and another horse named Wonder In.
Jorje Navarro was arrested with several others in a big drugging scandal. He bragged about all of the horses that died in his care due to these drugs. All of us horse racing people immediately think about X Y Jet who died from a massive heart attack in his care. The FBI has wire taps where Navarro bragged about drugging X Y Jet, so as I write this, I have no doubt that Mintz was a victim of who knows what kind of drugs that Navarro raced his horses on. They can not be detected by present day tests, and who knows what the long term health effects will be on these horses.
Navarro was sentenced to five years in prison. Here is an article if you wish to read about him. https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/255623/navarro-receives-five-year-prison-sentence-in-ped-case
Mintz raced for Navarro three times. The third time he finished second to last. I wonder if this is when a problem emerged. Maybe he came back slightly lame. Maybe some x-rays were taken, and instead of retiring him as he should have been, Navarro shipped him off to Puerto Rico instead like he did with numerous other horses.
The last time he raced in the states was July 11th, 2020, and the first time he raced at Camarero in Puerto Rico was Christmas Day in 2020. Why was there such a long space between races? The journey to Puerto Rico from Florida is a long and tortuous trip for horses. Mintz, like hundreds and hundreds of other horses, traveled by cargo ship in a metal container with windows cut out of it. The container was forty feet long, had small, wooden dividers, and a fan in one corner. They have some hay and water. He probably traveled with eleven or more horses in it, and none of them had any room to turn around or lie down. The horses usually arrive 50 to 75 pounds lighter due to dehydration and/or pneumonia. Due to the cramped space and inability to move, he may have landed in Puerto Rico with injuries.
For whatever reason, it was six months before his racing career started at Camarero. He raced sixteen times often two weeks apart. We all watched from afar hoping somehow he would make it back to the states. Since he often finished in the top four, that didn’t seem likely. Lately, I saw Mintz struggle. I saw him run well in the beginning but fade. This made that red flag of mine wave harder and harder until I finally found out from Kelley that he was about to be put down.
After a lot of consideration and guilt, I realized that if I brought him here, he would be in worse shape. I live in Colorado by Utah. In between Denver and where I live it is all mountains and valleys filled with steep passes and winding roads littered with hairpin turns on steep grades, which would be hard for a horse in his condition. He has osteoarthritis in his left fetlock, an osselet, and his suspensory is compromised. In the video that was sent to me, I saw a horse in a lot of pain. The further he walked, the more ouchy he appeared, and turning was a challenge for him. His hips don’t track well, which I believe is his way to compensate for the pain in both front ankles, which are huge. Coming to Colorado could be his end. I had to admit coming here first was not a good idea, and the guilt that flooded me was suffocating. I called my friend Sherrie hoping we could figure something out.
This is where Sherrie from Racing for Home enters into the story. As I mentioned, she runs a fantastic OTTB Non Profit having rescued and rehomed many. She is taking in Fish Trappe Road, and she and I wanted to give Mintz a chance. She hatched a plan. She found a person that could foster him where it would be much easier for Mintz to travel to. This sealed the deal for me even though I was riddled with guilt still. Sherrie found the best solution. He can rest and heal, and if it is determined in 6 or more months that he can travel here, we will do that. He now has his soft landing.
Acacia Courtney Clement, who is also on the Racing for Home Board, would be attending the Ocala Sales, so she planned on talking with Centennial Farms to see if they would be interested in helping bring Mintz home. When she spoke with the President, Donald Little, there was no pause, no hesitation….only a yes. Centennial said that they would pay for his flight back and help with vet bills as we rehabilitate Mintz.
I want to underline how amazing this is, and how much I appreciate Centennial from the bottom of my heart. Mintz never made them that much money. They could have easily said no, but instead they are eager to bring him back and give him what he needs. I’ve helped rescue several horses, and there have been times that the owners and/or breeders either never responded or said no to helping out. Centennial Farms didn’t even blink an eye at the cost to fly him home. We will forever be grateful to Centennial for their help. Their participation in this village along with Acacia’s of support for Mintz was crucial, and this needs to be lauded from the highest of mountain tops. Instead of fundraising and trying to get him home, he already has his plane ticket.
Next step was where could he have time to rest before traveling to Connecticut? Clement Stables, who never had anything to do with Mintz, offered to send him a private farm in Ocala, Florida for two weeks. There he will be treated like royalty. He will be able to graze and relax. He will be seen by some of the best vets, and this is when many decisions will be made.
Rescue can be messy, and there is often no black and white. Instead there are all shades of colors that paint a picture that is rarely perfect. So many nights are spent in the barn with the horses to make sure they see the light of the next day. I slept outside with Dulce for three weeks until we got him through the worst of his gut issues. There are so many highs and lows on the journey to wellness, and Mintz will have many of those.
At first we thought we were flying him home to put him to sleep, but after seeing him and his personality, we have hope that we can rehabilitate him. Sherrie is in the perfect location to give him what he needs. Tufts University is an hour and a half a way. She has an excellent vet, and he will be given every opportunity to be the horse that he can be.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from horses is that I can have a goal in my mind as to what I want to achieve with my horse as I walk into the arena. However, there really is no “I”, and often my goals are reimagined as my horse communicates his needs. We may all have a goal to get Mintz pasture sound and live a good life, but along the way he may tell us that he needs something else. If the vets believe that we can’t help him, we will do right by him. All of us came together for him….not because we want anything from him at all….but for him. We want to give him a chance, dignity, and love in whatever shape or form he needs.
As I’m writing this, he is going into quarantine, and on April 1st he will fly to Miami. I have hopes that one day he will find his way here, but I’ve surrendered that idea. Whatever is best for him is all that matters to me. If he does make it here, he will have a run next to Chaco. They will be called the Blister Buddies, since they were both blistered while racing. It will loop around, so he can visit with his brother out of another mother, Dulce. Sueño can teach him how to play, while Harley will help him adjust to and get to know all of the wildlife that moves through with the changing seasons. No matter where he will be he will have a home thanks to Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare, Sherrie Courtney and Acacia Courtney Clement of Racing For Home, Centennial Farms, his Foster, Kinsman Farm, and Clement Stables.
Mintz has a fantabulous village. I have a good feeling. Growing up in racing you always look for a good sign. He went into quarantine on the anniversary of my grandparents’ wedding. He flies home on the 21st anniversary of my first date with my husband.
Mintz is coming home everyone, and he will be in great hands every step of the way.
UPDATE: Mintz will not be able to come here. His leg cannot support the long trip through the mountains. He has arrived at Racing for Home in Connecticut where he will receive the best of care. He already has received an injection into his left fetlock and had an acupuncture treatment, both of which have done him wonders. He gets to go for a hand graze on beautiful grass each day for fifteen minutes. He is loving his new life.
Please consider going to these sites to thank everyone for their efforts in helping Mintz on his healing journey. They need to know how appreciated they are. During a time when all is focused on the negative, they all are doing what we want to see in racing…..caring for the horse….putting the horse first.
You can reach Centennial Farms on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/centennialfarmsracing or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Centennial_Farm . We couldn’t have done this without them. Please thank them a lot.
I also want to thank his foster for providing him a safe spot to land and heal. He will have a lot of vet bills, and we need to raise funds for his boarding. If you would like to donate to his ongoing care, please go to: https://racingforhomeinc.com/donate/
Please give a lot of thanks to Kelley, Chrissy, and Shelley at Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare. The work they do is beyond any words. To say that they are in the trenches of rescue is an understatement, and they need all the support they can get to keep up the rescue work they do. You can thank them on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/CaribbeanOTTB and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/horserescue, and if you would like to make a much needed donation to bring more thoroughbreds home, please go to https://www.ctahorse.com/
Please give A LOT of thanks to Sherrie Courtney at https://twitter.com/sebcourtney and Acacia Courtney Clement at https://twitter.com/acacia_clement . If it weren’t for these two, I don’t know how he would have gotten him to a safe space where he could heal. You can also thank them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/racingforhomeinc
Please thank Clement Stables for helping out Mintz by letting him go to Kinsman for two weeks to get some of the best care. You can visit them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/clementstable or https://twitter.com/miguelmclement
Finally, I would like to thank Kathryn Papp https://twitter.com/kathrynpapp, Elizabeth Yarberry, and my surgeons at Roaring Fork Equine Medical Center for all of their help. I will always be grateful to you.