Joe Buys a Race Horse

After Joe sold the bar, he bought a harness race horse, named Star Choice, in a claiming race. He then continued to buy other pacer horses at auctions and bred horses with his brood mare.

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I never knew Joe had an interest in horses, never mind race horses. My father was not a ‘gambling man’, either. How he learned how to breed, raise, train and race standard bred pacers is beyond me. I do remember he had one book that he referred to that was kept on his end table. I can’t remember or imagine Mare’s level of surprise about this turn of events. I had left home by this time.

He was still working at the power plant at the time. He went to see and feed his horses every morning and, if he was available, he went every late afternoon, too. Otherwise, he arranged for someone else to feed his horses in the afternoon. They were boarded in Ludlow for quite a while, then in Greenfield which is no short trek from West Springfield.  Along with the horses came the big truck, the horse trailer, the sulky, the bales of hay, grain, and various and sundry horse equipment. And, veterinarian bills, boarding fees, etc. He was a member of the U.S. Trotting Association.

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He bought a personal computer and I helped him learn how to use it. He tracked his entries and results on the U.S. Trotting Association website. (He also used his computer to manage his stock portfolio and for his stock trades.)

One night, Joe got the telephone call that his brood mare who was in foal was going into labor. I went with him to the Ludlow, MA barn where she was boarded. She had just given birth moments before we arrived. I can remember seeing the placenta which was large and bloody. The foal was wet and the mother licked her. She struggled to get up and kept falling down (which I think is normal) and Joe was a nervous wreck. She finally stood up with a little help from Joe. I had a brand new Fujica SLR camera and took pictures. Joe became even more nervous because he thought the flash would spook the mother.

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Some of the other horses Joe bought or bred, trained, and raced were Angel’s Vicar, CinderKate (for my niece), CinderDan (for my brother and my nephew), Whip City Gal, and Soap Suds Sue (for me). My claim to fame~a horse named after me!

He raced his horses in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, Rockingham, NY, Sarasota, NY, The Meadowlands in NJ, and at Scarborough Fair in Maine.

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Again, I don’t think Mare was too pleased, but she tried to make the best of it and sometimes went to the races where some of their friends joined them. If the horse won, everyone would quickly run down to “The Winner’s Circle” and get their photo taken with the horse. These winning photos were all over the house.

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Mare liked going to the races and fairs where trophies were won and to the ceremonial dinners for the racemen.  Mare and I went to a ceremony at The Hotel Northampton to accept a trophy for Joe, as he was working the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the power plant.

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Once, when Mare and I were vacationing in Florida, Joe asked us to go to the Pompano Raceway where one of Joe’s friends, a woman, had a horse entered in a race. Mare couldn’t understand why a woman would ever get involved in such an enterprise.

MareSusan

I don’t know if Joe made money from his horses: I can’t imagine that he would be involved in a losing venture. I used to say jokingly that “Joe spent his money on fast women and slow horses.”

When Joe was unexpectedly hospitalized and required a lengthy recovery period, he knew he was unable to care for his only horse. He decided to give his horse away to his driver, Dougie DelNero. After the conversation, he hung up the telephone and cried.

Lesson Learned~I wish I had become involved to some degree in learning about the horse business when I had the opportunity.

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