A Holiday Tale: Rallying to Help ‘Old Warrior’ Cost of Freedom

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Cost of Freedom was the center of a fundraising effort to retire the horse in late December Cost of Freedom was the center of a fundraising effort to retire the horse in late December

When has a horse done enough? That was the question many people were asking a week ago when Cost of Freedom, a 10-year-old California-bred gelding by Cee’s Tizzy with career earnings of $1,018,799, was entered in an $8,000 claiming race on the final weekend of racing at Betfair Hollywood Park.

He’d been racing since 2006, beginning his career in modest company for owner-breeder John Harris, breaking his maiden carrying a $50,000 claiming tag in his second start.

Two years and six starts later, trainer John Sadler dropped a $50,000 claim on the horse for owners Gary and Cecil Barber. In two months, Cost of Freedom was a Grade 1 winner pointing toward the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, after capturing the Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita.


Foot problems sidelined him for a year, but he came back strong, finishing a close third, beaten a nose and head, in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

The next year, Cost of Freedom won a pair of G3 races, the Los Angeles Handicap and Vernon O. Underwood Stakes, but by 2011 his form had trailed off, and he was back running for a claiming price. Trainer Ed Moger Jr. picked him up for $32,000. Cost of Freedom was a reliable competitor for Moger, winning several races in claiming or allowance company before changing hands again in April of this year in a $12,500 claiming race at Golden Gate Fields.

His new owners, Nick Ferrara and Battle Born Racing, had some success with the gelding during his 10-year-old campaign, winning two of five starts in Northern California.

But when Cost of Freedom was returned to Southern California and entered at Hollywood Park in an $8,000 claiming races on Dec. 21, John Malone, the head clocker at Santa Anita and Del Mar, got a call from his friend, trainer Carl O’Callaghan, asking the question: Hasn’t this horse done enough?

Malone, a former trainer who has a handful of Thoroughbreds on his farm in Temecula, inquired about buying Cost of Freedom privately to retire him before the race. He’d followed the horse’s career as he ascended the ladder from claimer to Grade 1 winner, and was disappointed to see him falling down to racing’s lowest levels. His efforts to buy him weren’t successful.

Cost of Freedom  wound up running 10th, beating one horse, as the 8-5 favorite in the worst finish of his 47-race career.

Cost of Freedom was claimed out of the race in a three-way shake won by trainer Robertino Diodoro, who planned to take him to Turf Paradise in Arizona and run him in a series of starter handicaps as an 11-year-old.

O’Callaghan, who’d recently experienced the joys of riding retired stable star, Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Kinsale King, in a horse show, posted messages on Twitter and Facebook, asking when “enough was enough.” He was flooded with responses urging that the horse be retired.

O’Callaghan and Malone felt they needed to do something, but weren’t exactly flush with cash. They made some calls, including one to Diodoro, who was fully cooperative, and tried to raise enough money to buy Cost of Freedom. The gelding’s former trainer, John Sadler, stepped up with a significant donation, encouraging them to continue. They set up a Paypal account seeking donations to retire Cost of Freedom and were, according to Malone “blown away” by the support. Increments as small as $5 from places as far away as Malaysia came in, and by Christmas Eve Malone posted on his Twitter account  (@clockersinsider) that Cost of Freedom was officially retired. Cost of Freedom got his own Facebook page, allowing Malone to keep the horse’s fans and supporters up to date on the retirement.

“The only sad thing,” Malone said, “was that people who don’t have any money were kicking in $10 while others with the resources to help didn’t.”

John Malone with Cost of Freedom

John Malone with Cost of Freedom

Diodoro will keep Cost of Freedom at his barn until he’s ready to be let down and head to Malone’s farm this weekend.

Before going forward with the retirement, Malone talked with Moger to make sure Cost of Freedom had the temperament to be a riding horse. Diodoro, he said, has been a complete gentleman throughout and even offered to pay transportation costs.

The experience has provided a new perspective to Malone, who’s been clocking horses for more than 20 years. He’s even considering forming a 501(c) 3 charity and devoting more time to racehorse retirement.

“I don’t need a riding horse,” he said. “I’ve got several already. My plan is to get him down here, let him down and maybe make him into a trail horse. He might be a good stable pony for someone at the track. Horses do need a certain activity level. He’s going to need a job.”

Malone has talked with people like California Retirement Management Account founder Madeline Auerbach and Tranquility Farm benefactor Gary Biszantz about ongoing industry efforts to help give more retired racehorses a second career but “you can’t save them all,” he admits.

“I’m in the racing business,” Malone said. “I’ve got three on the ground at my place that are going to be racing eventually. This was an eye-opener. We have to do a better job of taking care of these old warriors.”

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  • Barbara Wood

    That’s the sad part. There are thousands of horses who deserve better, and those of us who can least afford it are the ones with the heart to step up. Those who have wrung every last dime they can from them look the other way. Shame on them.

    • RayPaulick

      Could you put the bitterness aside for one second and celebrate this one small victory? Seriously.

      • princessspiro

        Mr Paulick, what you did like Marcus Hersh who tweeted about Tortuga Straits and received a remarkable response is a wonderful step in the right direction and your commentators respect your efforts. I don’t see ms Woods as bitter, a little harsh don’t you think? But just mindful of exactly what Mr Malone, I believe pointed out himself, the persons who benefitted the most from this horse’s efforts did little for him, with the heartwarming exception of the final trainer and Mr Sadler. Why can’t we save them all? Happy New Year to you and I am grateful to your site for teaching me so much during the year.

        • RayPaulick

          As John Malone said, “You can’t save them all.” I’ve been there, having served on the TRF board during some very tough times. My belief is not to let the impossible get in the way of the possible. Celebrate the victories, build momentum, and demonstrate that people can make a difference. It’s the best way I know to gain support for these horses.

          • princessspiro

            I agree with what you are saying , and this is the reasonable way to address the present. however my view is for the long term, Once a horse reaches the race track there must be owner responsibility no matter how many times the horse changes hands, which i believe there should be a limit. The reality is if you are going to continue to breed 140 mares to each retired stallion, there is going to be too many horses that are not running as graded stakes entrants. So by the very nature of that end of the business they are creating the problem of not being able to “save them all”. It is like saying less intelligent children can be discarded and we don’t have to take care of them when they do not become lawyers, or doctors. Ridiculous, right? You have to be accountable for what you create or take ownership of. That is what must change in the future, mandatory regulations not just relying on the good people in the business cleaning up your mess, so to speak.

          • Ladyofthelake

            Just who do you think should implement & enforce these “mandatory regulations” you propose? If that logic was applied to every area of life, you could make the argument that most people should never be allowed to own cats & dogs or have babies, since a lot of people do an awful job raising them, too. Everything in life can’t be perfect all the time.

          • Knowitall

            Maybe. But the short answer is The Jockey Club. By using a mandatory fractional percentage of all fees toward retirement (plus the industry should use a fractional percentage of handle – subtracted equally from all benefactors, horsemen purses, and tracks, ADW’s, etc. but not by increase to customers.)

            I agree with Ray in the sense that strides have been made and the game is heading this way…

          • Ladyofthelake

            Well that wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’s just the words mandatory regulations make me cringe because it usually means getting the government involved somehow which is usually a bad idea. But people shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that just because a former racehorse finds a home that its life will be wonderful from then on. At the farm where I volunteer in TN, a TB former steeplechase horse had to be put down due to laminitis, maybe caused by poor diet & owners who don’t have endless amounts of money to spend on vet bills. Before that he was neglected & skinny from being boarded at a different farm before his owners moved him. Another horse there just came off the track in January & used to have such nice feet & I said to myself “Those pretty feet aren’t gonna last long at this farm!” Sure enough it didn’t take long for her to throw a shoe & develop cracked hooves! Now I work at a different farm on weekends that has several off track TBs and they are in good shape but it’s a farm where the boarding fees are over $400 a month. So it’s not always that easy taking care of OTTBs, they are not exactly cheap to care for!

            Then again I personally am not in favor of fewer horses being bred since that means fewer jobs & I was hoping to get a job at a TB farm myself one day. Say what you will about racing, it’s just about the only horse sport that generates enough money to pay people full time salaries! Most other horse sports involve rich people who just happen to keep horses on the side (polo for example!)

          • Knowitall

            If it is mandatory to register a foal, apply for a particular license, and pay purses at racetracks, then it sure as hell should be mandatory, not just voluntary, to direct a portion of the revenue for the care of the HORSE in HORSERACING.

          • Birdy2

            Exactly.

          • Birdy2

            Agree. Jacking up registration fees would be a good place to start. Some folks have no business in the horse business. Make it expensive enough to weed out the trash.

          • betterthannothing

            Linda, you are absolutely the best!

          • Harry

            So who gets to decide who is “trash” ? You? I have seen some of the biggest, most successful trainers operate in ways I thought were trashy. Disposing of horses that need time or retired in unethical ways…

          • betterthannothing

            Sadly, “trash” can be found at all levels of racing. Because this industry depends on the sound management of its fragile race horses, it needs to create a national authority to solely and thoroughly protect the welfare and safety of its horses and “weed out the trash”.

          • Roisin

            I agree there will never be “perfection”. However, that does not mean we should not always strive for improvement. We should never accept the status quo, that is a dangerous mind set. Instead of extrapolating, I like to focus on one “problem” at a time.

          • Mary Jo

            While the issue of who would enforce the “mandatory regulations” proposed is waiting to be worked out, a change in tax breaks for breeding horses (a change to FEWER tax breaks) would be a disincentive. As it is now, I pay more in taxes as a result of the industry being subsidized the then I contribute $$ for horses like Cost of Freedom and to charities like OF, ReRun, TRF, etc, etc. If the entire TB industry would take care of the horses they produce and race then maybe more people would be less turned off by the “sport”. It could go a long way to change the perception of TB being “whipped, drugged and slaughtered” (as Seth Hancock was quoted as saying).

          • Spa Horse Fan

            I think many people want to do right, they need to be shown where it
            is. But for those who won’t, there needs to be a plan in place. The
            industry now
            relies heavily on taxpayer subsidies in the form of generous tax breaks
            and so
            on. With the Federal and State regulation of gambling, horse racing becomes the public’s business, too.

          • Mrs.Hamilton Barrow Willis

            Maybe they “all” wouldn’t need to be saved if their owners did right by them in the first place. Ever think about that? If you make MONEY off the labor of a horse, you NEED to take responsibility- retire them at your own expense or give them to someone who will or provide that a dignified death through euthansia instead of sending them “down the road” to the slaughter house. Horse slaughter is NOT euthansia.

          • RayPaulick

            The challenge is that most people who own racehorses do not “make” money. It would be nice if those individuals who did make money on a horse stepped up. I agree that euthanasia is a far better and more acceptable alternative to slaughter. Agree with them or not, the AVMA and AAEP define the captive bolt method used in slaughterhouses as a form of humane euthanasia. What isn’t humane is the way the horses often are treated in transit to these places.

          • Knowitall

            Captive bolt is designed for cow heads, not horses, and the vets know it is not humane. No excuse for their “well, it could be designed to be humane” trope. And as you point out neither is the transport, nor will it ever be enforced to be so. Vets should reduce euthanasia cost or create a fund for hardship cases paid for by the more profitable clients. And if you can’t budget the finances, time, effort to attempt to re-home, and emotions to at least euthanize an unwanted horse, don’t breed, don’t buy. That’s fair.

          • betterthannothing

            “And if you can’t budget the finances, time, effort to attempt to
            re-home, and emotions to at least euthanize an unwanted horse, don’t
            breed, don’t buy. That’s fair.”

            Well said! No one should own race horses to make money. The industry has a long way to go but let’s celebrate this noble effort and dignified retirement of Cost of Freedom!

          • LongTimeEconomist

            More than 90% of all racehorses are a losing proposition for their owners, so let’s please be realistic and concentrate on expanding the significant increase in programs for retired horses that Ray wrote about above.

          • betterthannothing

            Absolutely!

          • Birdy2

            Well said.

          • Ladyofthelake

            There’s nothing wrong with trying to make money, without money none of the people who take care of the horses everyday would get paid! The problem is when greed causes people to do unscrupulous things to the horses in order to get that money. But let’s be honest- most horses are a money pit no matter what breed they are. A funny photo was posted on facebook of someone pretending to feed a horse several $100 bills. So true!

          • betterthannothing

            LadyOTL, I agree with you, as long as the welfare of horses always comes before money and ego.

          • Roisin

            Slaughter is not euthanasia and never will be no matter how the AVMA and AAEP choose to define it .
            Maybe the “captive bolt method” could merit the term if it were used in a setting other than the gruesome slaughterhouse but it would be a stretch, even then, because the animal is not killed, it is just stunned. Death happens when the animal is hoisted up and the throat is cut in order to bleed out.
            Further, the word euthanasia is overused and the true meaning has been perverted over time.

          • Spa Horse Fan

            Which segues to, the 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia categorized the captive bolt gun as “acceptable”, for reasons best known to the pro horse slaughter AVMA.

            Anyway, it’s not used as a captive tool in the plants. Put that with horses natural flight instinct, and it’s a recipe for suffering. Most horses endure multiple hits, and terror, and according to vets, regain consciousness for dismemberment. This is hardly responsible after care; 2014 would be a great year for the racing industry to use its influence to help pass the popular SAFE Act, to protect horses from winding up in the food supply.

          • Dee

            Your spot on with that comment Ray. It’s the abuse in transit. It does seem that could somehow be changed. I think perhaps if they actually made it legal in each state then there would be no need for long shipping in double decker trailors and long waiting periods of hunger and thirst before arriving. In other words perhaps it could allow for a more immediate end. It is a necessary evil, but it can be cleaned up.

          • Roisin

            I believe in what you said regarding owners doing right by the horse in the first place. The problem is the downward spiral of claiming when the horse starts to change “owners” frequently. A lot of times the “new” owners just want a return on their “investment” and that is their focus , not the welfare of the horse. That is why I have so much trouble with the “claiming game” and how it is structured.
            I remember Cost of Freedom well and one of our horses competed against him more than once.
            PS A big “THANK YOU” to Carl O Callaghan, John Malone and all those who made this overdue retirement possible. Of course, the people who donated money, however small the amount, are classy people just like O Callaghan and Malone. I wish all a happy and prosperous 2014.

          • Tod Adamson

            So, it is OK that only some of them are saved?

          • RayPaulick

            Not every former racehorse has the temperament and many of them are not sound enough to go on to useful lives in other disciplines. Euthanasia has to be part of the equation. Focusing on transitioning and retraining those horses with sound mind and body will do the most good.

          • betterthannothing

            Yes, unfortunately euthanasia has to be –an extremely sad– part of the equation and an issue racing will have to deal with tactfully to avoid public outrage while doing its very best to improve the welfare and safety of horses and the quality of “the product” to minimize euthanasia.

          • 4Bellwether666

            Like the Humane Society/ SPCA model…But for Horses…ty…

          • princessspiro

            If standards are imposed then fewer horses will be unsound and as for temperament, well perhaps gelding is in order then, although John Henry was still ornery. All I can offer is perhaps true sanctuaries could provide a home for the most recalcitrant. Only a truly dangerous animal of any type should be euthanized. And by the way, if a temperamental horse has earned money racing and was trainable in that environment, then they are capable of being retired in some fashion.

          • Roisin

            One of my OTTBs was a handful when he arrived from racing in $4, 000 claimers at Finger Lakes. He was not mean or deliberately dangerous but very difficult to handle. With patience he improved, and 3years later he is great. If he had been assessed for his temperament early on he may have failed which would have meant a very uncertain future, maybe none at all !!

          • Mimi Hunter

            And then there was the couple who put their 5 y/o daughter on a retrained horse at a local rodeo. She still had a problem with being held or tied fast. She spooked and turned turtle pinning the little girl to the ground. Temperament testing should include how the horse has taken to the new training.

          • Knowitall

            People should be tested before becoming parents, too, but that hasn’t happened yet, either.

          • Mimi Hunter

            Yes, but knowing a panic issue or other habit is there before you start a retraining regime can make a lot of difference in the outcome.

          • betterthannothing

            People should be tested before becoming parents AND horse owners.

          • Kathy Agel

            The parents’ lack of common sense is to blame in this — not the horse.

          • Mimi Hunter

            I agree – they should have known – children’s horses should be bombproof – ‘just another horse off the track who is nuts’ – doesn’t help the breed or rescue group anything but more grief. BTW – the child died.

          • Birdy2

            Exactly, Kathy Agel. Sincerely, Linda Broussard.

          • Kathy Agel

            Hey, Linda. Off-topic — I’m still having problems getting on FB and have been sick as a dog for the past month.

          • Harry

            sounds like the kid had idiots for parents

          • Mimi Hunter

            Yes, but that is not a popular opinion here. I have a real thing about what type of horse a child is put on. A kid’s horse should be bomb proof, period.

          • princessspiro

            Exactly my point. Some circumstances just require patience and skill, as you have admirably shown. I have an aversion to so called animal behaviorists making foolishly subjective pronouncements regarding the salvageability of a fearful, abused or strong willed animal. I am not talking about the people on this site, I am referring to others who call themselves professional behaviorists most unfortunately in the shelters, for cats and dogs. I have no personal experience with the rescue or retraining groups for horses so I am in no position to comment on their outstanding efforts and i do recognize it is quite different to rehome a horse than a dog or cat. So i give credit to all the above and the many others who have done so, there is a special place for you. And when I discuss regulations, I would be thrilled to witness the racing industry take this task upon themselves, if they fail however, the need must be filled somewhere else.

          • timex

            the problem is, is that there are only so many homes for horses, regardless of breed. 10 homes, 1,000 horses, the math doesn’t work. sure, a sanctuary idea is great, but who’s going to pay for the property, and the feed (hay, at the very least) plus whatever other care becomes necessary?

          • Birdy2

            Just an aside on this fantastic story: You’re right, Ray, humane euthanasia MUST be part of the equation. (Slaughter is not humane euthanasia, but that’s another conversation.) Here’s something else: everywhere I’ve ever run, if a horse is euthanized due to racing injuries on association grounds, management removes the body at no cost to the connections. I can name five trainers off the top of my head who’ve had their vets declare a used-up horse to be suffering from uncontrollable osteoarthritis (a racing injury)… the shot itself is cheap, and the track disposes of the remains. Definitely better than the meat man. Anything is better than the meat man, better than sending a crippled horse off to an already overburdened rescue. Why criticize a trainer who chooses that route? Criticize their training methods and the chemical cocktails that put 10YO ankles on a 3YO, but don’t criticize them for choosing the kindest way out for the animal. Or so sez me.

          • GL

            I have an 8 year old homebred in my back field. He raced once, had EPM and other problems, and was retired. I am no longer in the business and this horse will probably outlive me. He will certainly live longer than I will own this farm. He will be euthanized and buried here rather than given away to someone, because I will know he is safe, and not sitting in someone’s barn starving or otherwise abused. Pasture pets are extremely expensive and I keep these three retirees out of love for my horses., For us, it is a huge drain on our finances when we are retired and on a fixed income.

      • Liz

        I am not bitter, Ray. All the people who contributed to this horse’s retirement deserve a big high five. I was only able to watch the developments from my computer and am relieved to see a happy ending to this story. Way to go.

      • beknighted

        Seriously… we do celebrate every victory…..CC is amazing.. however you seem to be the everpresent arbiter of good taste and decorum… why not just disable the comment section????

      • Knowitall

        Well, now, while I agree with your sentiment, you did clearly write the story with the excellent reporter’s detail of the names in COF’s life so we could infer score of the naughty and nice? (For me, it was heartwarming more than disappointing, and a surprise to me about who did contribute vs. who didn’t.)

      • Barbara Wood

        Mr. Paulick– before you judge me, I would invite you to look at the income I take in and where it goes. I think you would be sorry for calling me bitter. No one ever has., because they know I have celebrated plenty.

    • Ohio Bred Girl

      Not all owners look the other way, and it’s not only the “least” who step up. A friend and I arranged to have a multiple stakes winning horse claimed from a $4K claiming race. The original owners, a partnership, who won the stakes with him, simply wrote us a check for $3K to fund the claim once we alerted them. They offered to pay the entire price but my friend and I wanted to share in the cost. He’s now happily retired.

      • Knowitall

        Now that’s a pretty awesome tale! Kudos.

    • Lucy Freudman

      Barbara, perhaps you could join several of my groups : ARM, and citizens against the BLM and kill buyers.

  • dale e

    take a small % from every purse to fund the needs of these horses

    • Knowitall

      Way too obvious for the greedy C list minds that run the show.

    • Birdy2

      And do like Arizona: take a percentage of each fine and put it towards a racehorse adoption fund.

      • betterthannothing

        Better than nothing and great idea but in reality that program only saves (or saved) a few horses.

  • nicehorsey

    We are the breeders of Iridescent Red (Memo x Redcliff Bay). When she had dropped in class and claimed several times we offered to bring her home to our farm if possible. Melody Conlon and her owner sent her home even though John Livikis had just paid $10k for her. Rick Sackett charged us just $700 for banning from Hollywood Park. She sent a year in the 4 season weather our our ranch and now two years later is expecting her first foal this spring. Sometimes when you reach out…you can save another lady warrior of the race track.

  • Karen Gogue

    A huge thank you to trainer John Sadler for stepping up! A huge hug to all the Angels (Carl O’Callaghan and others) who helped get this beauty off the track! <3 Thank you John Malone, what a man!

  • Anne Mayea

    I was one of those who donated a small amount for the purchase of Cost of Freedom – paypal makes it easy and relatively painless – thanks to John Malone and Carl O’Callaghan for stepping up to the plate and making this happen. Facebook can be wonderful tool to help save the wonderful racehorses that give so much to us. And a donation is a perfect Xmas gift.

    • RayPaulick

      Thank you!

      • Swaps

        I, too am one of those who couldn’t afford the purchase of Cost of Freedom, but ached for what was to be for this warrior. I contributed what I could and am thrilled that he has a happier future. Now, how about horses like Joe Carl and others? These horses, as Ron McAnally has said, perform for our entertainment. And then we, too often, cast them off to the killers or watch them break down. Our entertainment should not cost them their lives. There needs to be some way to manage retirement for the thousands of horses breeders create for their profit.

  • Knowitall

    When I hear the stories of how so many horsemen are in this game for the money and don’t care enough about the horses, I see this story and think of how just as many prove that complaint wrong some days. A clocker, two thoroughbred trainers, and fans stepped up for the Cost of Freedom. The story reads well enough for all of us to figure out who didn’t step up after benefitting the most from the horse. Hope you saw some coal in your stockings JH, GB, and NF.

  • Richard C

    “The only sad thing,” Malone said, “was that people who don’t have any
    money were kicking in $10 while others with the resources to help
    didn’t.” Celebrate the victory, but this comment is telling.

    • RayPaulick

      It is telling. But by demonstrating to those with resources that their help would be appreciated and part of a team effort is far more effective than saying, simply, “shame on them.” I’ve been watching this story unfold for decades and the progress has been enormous, especially in the last three to five years.

      • Lucy Freudman

        Ray, I am in the business. Please do not include me in the ” shame on them ” group.If more money is need it. I will be glad to send it.

      • 4Bellwether666

        It has damn sure changed in the last 3/5 years due to web sites like yours and the social media also…ty…

  • gail0625

    Hurray to all those involved with getting Cost of Freedom retired. Job well done. With similar efforts three other War Horses were also retired over the last weeks: Tortuga Straits, Flashman’s Papers and Fuhrever Dancing with the help of others concerned for these older horses that end up in lower claiming races. Something has to be done to help these warriors into retirement while they can still have a second life after racing.

  • Yes Master

    What happened here with Cost of Freedom does show that trainers do care. It happened for me as well. I got back two half brothers in different years, Yes Master and Dutch Cay when they were done, through some trainers who took the time. And I applaud them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the other half brother Oh Frankie Baby and no one seemed interested in helping me get him back. That’s the downside. Now if I can just get Gibson back.

  • Suzanne

    A great big Merry Christmas for Cost of Freedom! God bless everyone involved with saving him.
    Mr. Diodoro apparently had a case of the quilts and rightfully so! Who would buy a 10 year old horse and continue to run him?? That is an “accident” waiting to happen – that horse has earned his retirement. I was stunned when I read this but I know it happens all the time. Cost of Freedom is one of the lucky ones.
    Whooahhh!

    • Ohio Bred Girl

      You have to go horse by horse. A horse who’s 10 can be sound and love his job. Age isn’t the sole factor. Some are unsound by 4; others still run well at 10.

      • 4Bellwether666

        Her statement went way over your head…How many John Henry’s have we seen since the 80′s…NOT ONE!!!…

      • Roisin

        True, some are sound at 10 and some are unsound at 3 or 4. However, it is easy to see when a horse is off his game. they are no longer really competitive and have to be dropped in the claiming ranks. Soundness is not the whole story and Cost Of Freedom was off his game…

    • 4Bellwether666

      Telling “IT” like “IT” is!!!…TY…

    • Knowitall

      It wasn’t quilts or guilt. It was a. he was offered the price he paid and stepped up to cooperate and more, and/or b. after claiming the horse he had a chance, and only then, to examine the horse’s condition, because he didn’t c. claim him to lose his money but in hope that the back class of a horse like COF would prevail and more than earn his keep where he wanted to place him at a lesser track, as COF had done for the past year for the owner and trainer that was nowhere near as cooperative to any retirement overtures.

  • KY Fan

    And yet, Mr. Paulick, when I brought to your attention the horse Great Attack, your response to me was :”Claiming races are a critical component of American horse racing…This is not an uncommon move to put a horse into a claiming race that hasn’t been successful for some time in racing in stakes.” OK, so Great Attack finishes fifth in the 2012 Breeders Cup Sprint. He goes to Dubai for the World Cup (Al Quoz Sprint), finishes 11th. Then he shows up at Keeneland in October in a 50K claimer, and recently was claimed out of a AOC at Churchill for 62.5K . Granted, he hasn’t fallen to the bottom claiming ranks yet; however, my experience tells me there has to be something wrong with this horse to make such a dramatic drop in such a short time. I hope people keep an eye out for him.

    • RayPaulick

      And I stand by what I said about claiming races. I don’t like them, but enlightened regulators are starting to adopt rules that will reduce the “games” some trainers play, such as the rules that return a claimed horse to the original owner if it comes out of its race and is immediately found to be unsound.

  • jojo

    Even when you don’t think it is enough ($) to help…it is. Love this Christmas miracle and Cheers to all that had a hand in helping COF to his well deserved retirement from racing. Overjoyed!!!!

  • GreyK

    I’m one of those people who do not have much money who sent $15. Thank good ness for the concern of O’Callaghan and the others who made this happen for Cost of Freedom. This is one of those events that needs to become ordinary, so there are no more Monzante sad stories.

    • Roisin

      Brings to mind what is often said and is true in many ways : ” Alone we can do so little together we can do so much”. Thank you.
      PS I remind myself of that when I send my donations to various rescues. Also, every donation counts…

    • RayPaulick

      Thank you!

  • DinkyDiva

    High hoof to all involved. FB can be a wonderful thing and I’ve been following this story since it began. Happy retirement you noble equine!

  • Patricia Jones

    thank you

  • 4Bellwether666

    Another feel good story!!!…All that threw down to help Cost of Freedom are BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE…Believe me folks the planet needs a bunch more like you!!!…TY…

  • Larry Kelly

    Great effort gang !!

  • Sue

    I too donated a nice amount towards CoF’s retirement. I wish people that had made money from him had stepped up too! Thanks to those who did.

  • Steve Andersen

    “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”.

    Harry S. Truman

    Nice work everyone, our great game needs more teamwork!

    • betterthannothing

      Our game needs more teamwork to make it great!

  • G. Rarick

    Nice to read a happy ending for Christmas. Just to add, though, that a point often overlooked in the “what to do with them after they race” debate is the overuse of “therapeutic” medications during the racing career. Sadly, there is little left to retire after they’ve been drugged to the eyeballs for a season or two. The ones that are sound enough and sane enough to go on to a decent retirement are sadly few and far between. Ironically, the least-sound animals end up going to the breeding shed because they’re too crippled to do much else!

    • Spa Horse Fan

      That is an excellent point. Drugs and after care are closely related, for sure. Clean up the drugs, and horses will be more sound mentally and physically coming off the track, leading to lower rehab costs and better chances for 2nd careers.

      Fairer wagering, and better after care. A win win all around! Glad to see a positive outcome for this horse.

  • Ann M. Adam

    Ray ~ You are completely correct in that more and more people are speaking up and getting involved in a positive manner which makes me SURE that Thoroughbred racing can be turned around and returned to family entertainment in a positive way. I reconnected with racing through the social tech communities; internet, phone & TV and am now connected to many hoping to see the re-birth take place. We are all trying in a positive way to get all to see that we can create many pies (per states) and/or create a bigger pie instead of moaning & groaning about smaller slices. I MUST thank you for stepping in and up with your reporting and backing of much. You are well deserving of your Team Valor award! Thanks for your help in the endeavor! And, I’m hoping that more professional reporting of the sport will step up and tell the public the truth so that it can be directly and quickly CHANGED!

  • Knowitall

    Did they issue a grant to the COF effort?

  • norhymenoreason

    I remember him. How utterly fantastic he is safely in retirement and kudos to all those who pitched in. That is what it will take and a raspberry to the unfortunate owner who refused to sell. Running a horse at 11 in the lower levels is not a classy move and this is a classy horse.

    • Roisin

      Unfortunately, for too many in the business a dollar is more important than the welfare of the horse !

      • norhymenoreason

        Can’t agree with you. Who is the original owner responsible for the lifetime of the horse? If only one owner was responsible, how could it ever be sold? You all need to take a look at the entirety of the life of the horse, which will have numerous owners. A structured, not punitive, response is needed.

  • Patricia Jones

    thank you to all

  • kcollinsworth

    Robertino, he’s a nice guy. Friends of mine had horses in his barn in Alberta before his barn expanded in the states. He’s also very pragmatic. When the horse ran so poorly in the race he got claimed out of, the movement to retire Cost of Freedom gave him an out where he could recover his investment and do a good deed at the same time. I wonder what he would have said if the horse had run well and come out of the race sound?

  • LINDA MARIE FIORE

    NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF FACEBOOK …THANK YOU CARL AND JOHN AND FOR PUTTING IT OUT THERE AND JOHN SADLER FOR HIS MAJOR CONTRIBUTION … THANK YOU RAY FOR LETTING EVERYONE ELSE KNOW WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED HERE!

  • Delrene

    Thanks to all who brought Cost of Freedom’s racing career to a conclusion and gave him to a dignified retirement. Especially two classy trainers, Mr. O’Callaghan and Mr. Sadler. Very uplifting end of the year story . Please accept my thanks to all of those who took part in his retirement. A BIG THANKS!!!!

  • MSD

    I am so glad he is finally retired. What a great holiday present. Thanks to all who contributed to his retirement as well. This is terrific.

  • Laura

    It is wonderful that Cost of Freedom was retired thanks to some really great people. These horses, who give everything they have, deserve a life after racing. They don’t deserve to be used until they are used up. This includes all thoroughbreds, not just those that make over a million dollars. There are so many rescue and retirement organizations throughout the country, but there needs to be an organized, national effort to take care of all the horses that are being born each year that will eventually retire from racing/those that don’t do well/never make it to the track. Due to my husband’s interest in racing, I became interested in it too. However, seeing how these horses are treated by some others makes me sick and I can’t get as excited watching the Derby as I used to. Until Thoroughbred Racing starts taking care of those who give it their all in an organized way, I can’t support it. These horses are living beings and this industry can’t be run like horses are “cogs” or “widgets”. A new mindset must come.

  • Susan Salk

    Great story!

  • SuePS

    It bothers me that this person who has been in the industry so long is only NOW getting an “eye-opener” about the need to take care of the HORSES. :P Glad he finally heard the phone ringing with the wakeup call.

  • Jamie Coughlin

    This: “The only sad thing,” Malone said, “was that people who don’t have any money were kicking in $10 while others with the resources to help didn’t.”

  • dispute92

    NO surprise to me that the ones that helped are the ones without the hefty wallets. I know all too well who helps and who doesn’t. Those who make the most noise that they will, you never see a dime. Carl O’Callaghan, John Malone, and John Sadler are in the minority in this business. Bless their hearts.
    Let’s not just cheer them on into the winner’s circle but also into retirement. Not all are stakes winners but they still deserve our help. As the article stated, “We can’t save them all” but it would be nice if we could.
    Nice idea Dale e.

  • Birdy2

    What a great story. I’ve been secretly in love with Carl O’Callaghan for years, and now I’m in love with Mr. Malone, too. As for John Sadler, it may not be love just yet, but I surely do like him. The man stepped up and set an important precedent. This is a big deal. Rather than focus on the negative, this is how I’m going to view what happened with Cost of Freedom: it’s a template, a precedent, an example for others to follow. We can all itch and moan about how many horses fall through the cracks (myself being a highly skilled bitcher and moaner), but wouldn’t it be more productive to not only talk about solutions but to work together to implement them? Ray Paulick, you’re a smart fellow, and I look forward to hearing your ideas for concrete solutions. Sincerely, Linda Broussard. P.S. Today has been rugged, me facing hard choices concerning a horse I love more than life itself, and this story truly lifted a bit of the gloom. Thank you.

    • Roisin

      I feel for you concerning your beloved horse. I hope and pray all will be OK for you.

    • betterthannothing

      Birdy2, I am so sorry that you are facing hard choices concerning a horse
      you love “more than life itself”. Having followed you and your horses for a few years
      and having enjoyed your kindness, funny photos and fabulous sense of humor all along, I know that whatever you decide will be best for your beloved horse and that is so comforting to know. I will be thinking of you.

  • Janet delcastillo

    Part of the problem in this business is the nature of the claiming business. Could social media help make changes? Can we ask the racing secretaries to write races for non claiming races that allow owners to keep their horses long term and still have a spot to run?

    Many of the letters to the Thoroughbred Times (which the Paulick report has filled the void) lament the claiming program as practiced here in the United States. As David Lengel stated in his letter of 12/24/11, “it would make sense to give horse time if needed, instead of
    medicating through all the problems, if we knew when we came back off a layoff
    we could race at some level without having our rehab project “claimed.” His
    comment “Race, jam, inject, medicate every last ounce of profit out of the
    claiming horse, and do not be the last man stuck with the horse when the horse
    is broken down and can no longer compete,” is a very sad and sometimes
    realistic result of the claiming game.

    One of the reasons people come into racing is because they love the horse and
    love the idea of having a race horse. Most are told by the trainers not to fall in
    love with the horse as this is a business. It is okay to fall in love with horses
    and racing and still be a part of the business. The tough part is having to put the
    horse “where he belongs” when he can’t win at allowance levels.

    For an owner, and many are business men, it makes no sense to spend
    $40,000.00 or $50,000.00 getting the horse to the races to be told he must run
    for $5,000.00 in order to win. If he does well in that “cheap” race, there is a
    good chance he will be claimed. This is a difficult concept for many to grasp.
    While in Buenas Aires a few years ago, I was surprised and fascinated to see races
    with conditions like “Horses that have not been fifth or better in their last five
    starts”. The purses are less for these horses but they still can earn money and
    the handicappers can find it just as challenging to pick a winner in a group like
    this…evenly matched.

    Changing anything in racing is a massive undertaking…how many reading this
    would like to see changes like this one…maybe certain tracks could start writing
    this kind of race..and see how it goes! My goal for the last 30 years has been to
    bring more caring owners into racing…I suspect they would stay in longer if they
    felt their horses could run at any level with out being claimed!

    Perhaps we could learn something from our Colleagues in the South!

  • In Tears

    This is a beautiful story. Just made me well up inside, I am so happy for this horse.

  • Tonto

    Still think a 401K type plan would work if you could fins an honest way to see the money goes to the horses. Truth is a horse used to a bedded box stall and regular life doesn’t think much of eating grass outside in the weather. i have a ‘John Sadler ” veteran in retirement – now over 20 ,sound, very ride able no body wants him I am 80 and don’t need him here but here he is on my feed billl…

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