‘Follow That Horse!’ Details Emerge About Turfway Horse’s Escape

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A maiden runner’s unscheduled detour made headlines on Sunday when he apparently escaped the Turfway Park track and went running through the streets of Florence, Kentucky.

Officials say the horse, Joseph the Catfish, who was making his first start, has only one eye, which may explain his visibly stressed demeanor before and during the race. The 3-year-old son of Mineshaft ditched Eddie Zuniga at the quarter pole and leapt a barrier into the horsemen’s parking lot.

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Steward Barbara Borden says patrons and Turfway officials alike pulled together to try to wrangle the frightened colt.

“He was chased by outriders on their ponies, the trainer, who had commandeered a vehicle with a patron driving (yelling “Follow that horse!”), also KHRC veterinarians (in the Kubota) and others on foot,” said Borden.

Although original reports of the horse’s route were unclear, Borden said he whizzed through traffic lights and past vehicles on Houston Road (“with all traffic lights changing in his favor”), and got as far as the ramp to southbound I-75, where he attempted to load onto the interstate about a mile from the track.

That was when Turfway starter Steve Peterman apprehended the colt, bringing them both crashing to the pavement. A stunned Joseph the Catfish got a ride to the test barn in the horse ambulance, where Racing Commission vets treated his abrasions, since there wasn’t a willing private vet to be found on the backstretch.

Owner/trainer Emilie Fojan reported Monday that after a trip to a Lexington clinic, “Joe” is recovering at the farm and was lucky to have suffered only minor injuries.

“She credits Joe’s safe return to the help and dedication of the Turfway outriders and gate crew, many concerned horsemen that lent a hand, and the KHRC veterinarians who stayed involved in the chase and follow up medical attention, and she asked that I extend her thanks and gratitude to all those that were involved,” said Borden.

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  • Don Reed

    Trainer, at Turfway’s Lost & Found Department:

    “Um…”

    Too bad they’re the same sex – we could have sponsored a barn date for him with Paul The Octopus (currently runs. if that’s the right verb, in Philadelphia).

  • Don Reed

    “That was when Turfway outrider Steve Peterman apprehended [Joe The Catfish], bringing them both crashing to the pavement.”

    Unless Peterman ran at a speed of @ 30 mph for lengthy intervals & at the same time, apprehended JTC all by himself – when “both” hit the ground, did Peterman’s horse come out of the fracas no worse for wear, after Peterman and JTC hit the concrete?

    New name for Steve Peterman: “Catfish Hunter.”

    • Joetart231

      Peterman is the starter, not the outrider. A kabota is a utility vehicle, similar to a John Deere gator.

      • bob

        It’s a much cheaper version of John Deere.

  • Beachy

    Poor Joe–he was freaked out.  I’m glad no one, including him, was seriously hurt, and I hope Mr. Peterman and his horse are ok, too; especially if he “apprehended” Joe while he was still mounted.  God Almighty; the crazy stuff they do… :-)  

  • Lexington 3

    “A stunned Joseph the Catfish got a ride to the test barn in the horse ambulance, where Racing Commission vets treated his abrasions, since there wasn’t a willing private vet to be found on the backstretch.”

    Hey Natalie, do you know the reason why there were no “willing private vets to be found on the backstretch”?  

    Ask your boss, Ray Paulick, if he knows.

    • Natalie Voss

      Barbara didn’t mention why there weren’t any private vets nearby, but she did say that the race went off at 5:51 and they didn’t get the horse back to the barn until 7 p.m., so it’s possible the barns had cleared out for the day.

      The horse is based in Lexington, so it’s likely his regular veterinarian wouldn’t have been in the area, either.

      • Lexington 3

        I asked that question because I did not know why you would add that odd quote about “no willing private vets to be found”. 

        The reason there are not private vets sitting around, like Maytag Repairmen,  ready to treat horses that have shipped in (from Lexington, for example) is because when private vets were allowed to administer the pre-race Lasix, a small group of them had financial justification for being there.  Since the switch to state vets giving the Lasix, that financial justification obviously no longer exists.

        The good news now (I suppose) is that some members of the media and public who did not understand that private vets giving Lasix was NOT even a problem needing solving now believe that there is more “integrity” with the system as state vets now administer the Lasix.

        The bad news, for the HORSES, is that it also means fewer vets with financial justification to be on the backside, which means less veterinary talent available to treat injuries, do post-race scoping, etc.  Less talent and fewer choices means a step backwards for the horses.

        Very few people in the media or from the public care about this, of course.  But I can promise you that it has crossed the mind of trainers who ship in.  Now you are aware of it, as well.

        • Beatit

           There are a couple ways this could have been handled to keep private vets around instead of taking their “bread and butter” (lasix treatments) away from them and now adding the cost of more state employees.

          1. As in Indiana, the tracks could have a security guard accompany the vet and insure only lasix is given.

          2. The track could pay one of the private vets a reasonable sum to stay throughout the race card.  None of the state vets scope horses as far as I know so there needs to be someone on the grounds a trainer can pay to have that done.  That way a trainer who’s horse  performs poorly can investigate whether or not it bled, had an infection, or if just claimed can check on the function of the airway.

          The private vets could take turns taking days (Turfway only runs Fri & Sat) or give their day to another private vet that doesn’t mind taking on more. Food for thought.

  • ExactaGirl

    I think Catfish Joe should be retired! Poor one-eyed horse; who could blame him for being freaked out? 

    • LongTimeEconomist

      Do you remember One Eyed KIng?

  • http://twitter.com/ButlerCreektwh Butler Creek

    A race track Smokey and the Bandit scene. Hilarious to read, but frightening. God bless all that helped. Is there a video?

  • Kris

    I remember a year or two ago at Hollywood Park, on a Friday evening card, a horse got loose on the track and almost jumped the rail near the concert area.  The TVG announcer’s joked that someone almost got to go home with a rather large door-prize.  

  • no longer on track

    Why wasn’t there a a private vet on the grounds willing to treat this horse?

  • Nehilaire

    Why in the world is a one eyed horse being raced? That is cruel as the horse has no depth perception and I am sure gets frightened because he can’t see the other horses coming up on him. The owners should be charges with animal endangerment and cruelty.

    • Beachy

       Yeah, that sounded weird to me, too, and I also don’t understand(Like “no longer”) below, why no private vet was willing to treat this poor horse.  As I said below, I’m sure he was freaked out but that’s what sedation is for, and horses are sedated prior to treatments all the time. 

    • THE KEYMASTER

      There are several racehorses that have been successful racing with one eye.  One of the best was Pollard’s Vision, who was multiple graded stakes winner, earned over $1.4 million, and sired Chamption Blind Luck.

    • RayPaulick

      Nehilaire,

      Check out the race record for the one-eyed wonder, Cassaleria. http://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm?type=Horse&refno=771416&registry=T

  • Philo

    It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World.

    To catch a catfish you first have to take your shoes and socks off, then just stick yer toe in their mouth and hang on, saw it on TV.

  • Sniper

    The fact of the matter is there was a private practitioner on the grounds but the KHRC veterinarians view the private practitioners as adversaries rather than colleagues and did not make a reasonable attempt to contact one nor express the severity of the matter. In addition most private practitioners have had to expand their practices outside of the racetrack due to the KHRC’s grab of certain aspects of racetrack veterinary practice and the Stewards flat refusal to enforce the financial responsibility rules of racing. Ask a racetrack veterinarian how their treated by the state to find out the real truth not the KHRC’s propaganda machine that rivals a certain propaganda machine from the 40′s.

  • DawnP

    Keymaster: you’re confusing the horse Pollard’s Vision with the jockey he was named for.  The jockey was blind in one eye, not the horse.
    I’m certainly glad that Joe is OK–I suggest a match race between him and the Laurel horse that got loose earlier this winter. I think his name was Bullet Train. 

  • Winneralright

    Pollard vision was blind in one eye, I galloped him for Todd Pletcher

  • Don Reed

    Matt Clarke is much more amusing than Don Reed.  Everyone knows that.

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