Barn Buddies Presented By Dapple Up: While Danner Travels The Country, Feline Assistants Keep Palm Meadows Base Running - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Barn Buddies Presented By Dapple Up: While Danner Travels The Country, Feline Assistants Keep Palm Meadows Base Running

Rosa (left) and Catherine (right) review pps for Danner

As any follower of this series knows, it's not uncommon (but is nonetheless delightful) for a racing barn to have a barn cat or two on duty. Among those of us who are particularly drawn to a good working cat though, trainer Kelsey Danner is social media famous.

She doesn't just have one; she has five.

“I've always been an animal person. You always have a barn cat. Five seems a little excessive,” Danner admits. “They're not really useful for anything besides eating a lot of food.”

The full roster is Rosa, Catherine, Fester, Bobby, and Linda, each with their own unique personalities. Danner runs horses up and down the East Coast, from Florida to Kentucky to New York and many points in between, but she has chosen to corral her feline employees at her permanent barn in Palm Meadows to minimize the stress of constant travel.

Rosa, like any truly over-worked assistant trainer, never leaves the barn office and is often found on Danner's desk. Catherine, who is the only member of the group not thrilled by the others, eats three meals a day in the barn and is otherwise roaming the training center.

Rosa has no desire to hunt, but Fester, Bobby and Linda will prowl from time to time. There aren't many mice or rats for them at Palm Meadows, so their focus has recently turned to lizards and pigeons.

Support our journalism

If you appreciate our work, you can support us by subscribing to our Patreon stream. Learn more.

All five of them technically came to Danner for free, but Fester was by far the most expensive freebie.

“Fester, we found on the track and we thought he was about to die,” she said. “He had herniated all his organs through his diaphragm so he had major surgery. He was on stall rest for like three months, which, stall rest for a cat is being locked in the bathroom. He must have been attacked by something, because he had some lacerations on his shoulder. He was not my cat then; I acquired him with the vet bill.

“Seven hundred dollars later, he has continued to live.”

Fester monitors naptime for a Danner trainee

Bobby (whose antics sometimes prompt him to be called 'Bad Bobby') and Linda, are named for Bob Baffert and Linda Rice. The siblings came to Danner as kittens when she was stabled at Churchill Downs and someone decided she didn't yet have enough cats. Bobby is the favorite of Danner's stable cats and is fond of snuggling her horses, climbing onto hay nets and stall ledges, or resting in the cat shelf hung for him and Linda in the office window. Danner describes Linda (the cat) as “a little controlling” and “two and a half hands of terror.”

Bobby has an unfortunate desire to see the world.

“Bobby makes the rounds; he's very popular on the backside,” said Danner. “Bobby gets into people's vehicles. He's gone to Gulfstream from Palm Meadows twice. And apparently he had to be evicted from an electrician's van at the stable gate the other day. It's a really bad habit, because I'm afraid he's going to really disappear. Obviously they all have chips and numbers on their collars, but he's very keen to get in any open door on a vehicle.”

Bobby (left) and Linda (right) are in charge of staff morale

He has not yet exceeded Danner's record for accidental cat journeys; she once had a barn cat sneak onto a trailer bound for Oaklawn Park – but Bobby is known for breaking records. It's only a matter of time.

Danner isn't the only one who worries when Bobby or one of his colleagues go on an expedition. She says her employees at Palm Meadows are devoted to the whole group of barn cats. Their favorite bonding activity is laundry time.

“They really love the fresh laundry out of the dryer when it's hot,” she said. “That's their favorite place to sleep in the mornings. The hot walkers get the laundry out, and then the cats lay on top of it. Then the hotwalkers will usually wrap them in towels. It's not like it's exactly frigid in South Florida, so I don't know why they need to be wrapped in hot towels all the time, but they look like little burritos as you walk around. They lay there and take it.

“My employees are all big cat fans.”

Paulick Report Icon

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Become An Insider

Support our journalism and access bonus content on our Patreon stream

Learn More