Race of the Week 2017
HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

… And Goodwill Towards Equines

Yes, recent events in the news have been difficult to believe, understand, and comprehend. It shows that we may not be as far along as a society as most of us would like to be. Still, through all of the pain and strife in this world it’s good to know that there are a few good souls attempting to do the right thing. In this case, I’d like to focus on a horse named Silver Option, and a colt named Magna Fortuna and his amazing journey to the starting gate this upcoming Wednesday at Hawthorne.

So it all started with an e-mail I received from Gail Vacca who is the President and founder of the Illinois Equine Humane Center who gave me the tip on this story. Let me give you some background.

A couple of years ago, Gail was in the process of doing what she normally does; finding Illinois-bred horses destined for the kill pen. That’s where, in 2009 in Indiana, she found an extremely lame mare whom she didn’t know much about at the time. Unfortunately, the mare was purchased by another buyer (a very commonly known "kill-buyer" or a buyer that routinely purchases horses that he sells to slaughter plants in Canada) whom Gail successfully tracked down and was able to ultimately buy the mare for just $300. Gail mentioned to me that this mare (aka “Lulu”) had a broodmare look about her and wondered if she was in foal. And wouldn’t you know, she was.

Gail and her team did all they could to keep the mare alive and kicking and to give the colt a chance at life. Because of Gail and the group’s unquestioned persistence, “Taxi” was born on April 15, 2010, (aka tax day) with a striking conformation. Now with a live foal, Gail needed to find out who the father of this colt is and attempt to determine the pedigree. With detective-like abilities, Gail was able to locate the old consigner’s slip from the auction, and after some additional digging, found the consigner on Facebook! After even more digging and due diligence, she discovered that the stallion was Magna Graduate. So now we have a new colt by Magna Graduate out of Silver Option.

Fast forwarding two years to today, the former trainer and her crew now found themselves in a dilemma. You see, the board members of the Illinois Equine Humane Center are racing fans and wanted to show what the colt was bred to do (where most horse rescue are anti-racing and wouldn’t want to race the colt.) A partnership was formed with the group’s closest supporters and volunteers (called Rescue Me Racing) who sold shares of “Taxi” and proceeds from the sales were reinvested in the rescue mission. Currently 16 partners have bought into the organization including Gail’s longtime friend, colleague, and trainer, Michele Boyce
Michele has now entered this colt (named Magna Fortuna which is latin for great luck or great fortune) to run his first race at Hawthorne this Wednesday in race 6. Coming out of the 11 slot he already opens up as 6-1 on the morning line in an Illinois-Bred maiden special weight going six furlongs. And to note, this horse, according to Gail, will never be seen in the claiming ranks. If after a few races this horse doesn’t have what it takes for racing, he will be retired. The group is hoping for a successful career moving up through the Illinois-bred allowance conditions. For this race however, Hawthorne’s Jim Miller practically had to reserve half of the Gold Cup Room for all of the connections and fans of “Taxi!” The group just may celebrating a victory for this first time starter too as his recent workouts have all been very good including two bullet works on December 8th and 19th!

(Photo courtesy M. Burlingham)

This story has already gained national attention from CBS, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Paulick Report, the Daily Racing Form, and now of course Horse Racing Nation. Many outlets have been tracking the progress of this colt over time and now we finally get to see him race. Gail and I agreed when we were speaking that just to have this colt cross the finish line is success enough. When you think of all the bad things that could have happened along the way, this story is truly amazing. A colt, from a pregnant mare left to die, from an unknown stallion, purchased for $300, will actually be running in a maiden allowance race just two years later.
















 (Photo courtesy L. Donohoe)


This also reminds me of the hard work and dedication of 5R Racehorse Stables out in New York. Sean and Angelika Kerr themselves had rescued a filly left to die, and raced her at Aqueduct earlier this year.  Their entire (AMAZING) story was featured on ESPN and you can watch it HERE.  I was so moved by their operation that I actually bought a share about one year ago and am very proud to be a member!

It’s folks like Gail and Sean and Angelika that embody the good side of horse racing. You see, the horse works hard for us and when they are unable to race any longer (or even while they are racing) we should ALWAYS do right by the horse. The thought that any horse is sent to the kill pen after they are done racing is completely inexcusable! I am not naïve either and I know that this kind of activity does happen in racing. However if we can expose it and put a spotlight on this activity and create some awareness, perhaps it would force racing leaders to be more proactive in this arena. After all, it IS called HORSE racing... and they deserve the best from us.


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Older Comments about … And Goodwill Towards Equines...

I realize other horse rescues would not approve, but to me this is an excellent idea to race this horse. One reason is that obviously if he wins, the money he earns helps the rescue. The other reason is that it puts a real face on the issue of horse slaughter. Something that needs to be done, if it is to be stopped. So I applaud this rescue and wish them all the success in the world
That's a nice read...
A very ice read, wishing him lots of good fortune. And loved The Snowman videos, thx for all of it.
Nice work, Dark Horse. A great piece to read on Christmas. Thanks!
I will be watching that first race, good luck to Taxi.
Taxi is a feel good X-Mas story. Bona Fortuna @ Hawthorne!!!1
thanks for helping to spread the story of Taxi I have been following his story thru the Courier-Journal But the more people that know about the good stuff in racing the better I wish all the best to Taxi and his connections and most of all safe trips for all
I was just thinking of another horse that Magna Fortunate reminds me of. A harness horse St. Elmo's Hero. I believe the story is that his breeder sold him as a youngster with his dam. The next owner sent them to the slaughterhouse and the original breeder found them and bought for a few hundred dollars. St. Elmo had a 21 or so win streak as a pacer and has won over a million dollars. So yes there are miracles. Hope Magna does well.
Cocoa. Thanks for the footage. Have a happy holiday.
Glad you did this piece. I've been hearing about Taxi, but I didn't know the whole story.
Actual footage of Snowman and Harry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2UjHp9iWqw
Wish him the best. The Snow Man of racing. For those who do not know Snow Man was a top jumper who was taken off a truck bound for the slaughterhouse. He became one if the greatest jumpers of all time. The last book written about him The 80 Dollar Champion is a must read for anyone interested in horses.
Good luck to Magna Fortuna. Wonderful story at Christmas time.
Excellent story! I'll be tuning in Wednesday. Go Taxi!
Excellent story! I'll be tuning in Wednesday. Go Taxi!

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Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
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