OTTB Showcase: King Don (a.k.a. "Kingsley") - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

OTTB Showcase: King Don (a.k.a. “Kingsley”)

OTTB King Don (a.k.a. Kingsley)

This week's featured horse may have been one and done as a racer, but he's carrying the flag for off-track Thoroughbreds at Equine-Assisted Therapies of South Florida, Inc. (EATSF) as one of the youngest horses on their roster.

King Don, or Kingsley as he's known today by his patients and handlers, was bred and raised in Florida by his breeders and former owners, Olympia Racing Stable. When his racing career was cut short just as it was beginning, he ended up in the hands of Barbie Moline at Florida Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care (Florida TRAC), a non-profit facility dedicated to horses that competed at Calder and/or Gulfstream Park during their racing careers.

“Our organization is unique in the fact that it is a partnership between the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Calder, Gulfstream, and professionals, like jockeys, trainers, and other industry professionals, all dedicated to finding 'forever' adoptive homes for retired Thoroughbreds,” explained Barbie.

Since its inception in 2009, more than 400 horses have been helped by the facility, and recently the organization was granted accreditation by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the new aftercare accreditation and funding arm of the industry, as one of the first three facilities approved under its banner. That access to the monies the TAA will provide will be crucial to Florida TRAC in the coming years.

“With the current economy and situations at different tracks, we have seen an increase in horses needing assistance lately,” explained Barbie. “The financial assistance from owners and donors has stayed about the same, with a few new generous donors offering some financial assistance.”

Kingsley was one of those 400 horses that have been helped by Florida TRAC. He arrived at the facility as a two-year-old in 2010 and, by the summer of 2011, he was adopted out into his new home and with a very important role as a therapy horse.

“I was apprehensive about having a hot-blooded breed in the program, especially one so young,” explained EATSF Executive Director Mandy DeBord. “It wasn't the breed as much as it was the age, because we had another retired Thoroughbred and he was great. I knew he had the potential to be a great therapy partner, and our staff does a great job training, conditioning and caring for our horses.”

The hands-on attention and professional retraining that Kingsley received at Florida TRAC prepared him ideally for a career as a therapy horse. With Barbie, a seasoned horseperson, at the helm and numerous qualified individuals as volunteers, horses like Kingsley get the experiences needed to hone their strengths in mind and body.

“My background with Thoroughbreds began when I rescued my own horse, Over Enough, who had just been retired from racing and had no place to go,” explained Barbie. “He ran at Hialeah, Calder and Gulfstream and was only six, so he had his entire life ahead of him. That was sixteen years ago, and after adopting him I made it my personal mission to try to help start an organization to help these incredible horses go onto successful second careers after they retire from racing.”

Kingsley has adapted to his post-racing life quite quickly, and has definitely found his niche in life.

“Within six months of arriving, we had him working with clients in the program,” said Mandy. “That's unheard of for a Thoroughbred, especially one so young. He's a playful and gentle horse that has found a great forever home here at EATSF.”

The road that lies ahead from aftercare programs like Florida TRAC is a long one, but the fruits of their labor are well worth the effort.

“The biggest challenges that we face is raising enough money to provide the care needed for the horses in our program so we don't have to turn horses away who qualify for our program,” said Barbie. “We have a very good adoption rate and have a wish list that includes additional barns, a new golf cart, and daily needs like veterinary care, feed and hay.

“These horses have incredible potential and many of the horses we adopt out go onto second careers working with mounted police units, therapeutic riding programs, youth ranches, the show ring and as family companions. It's extremely rewarding to watch them transition from racing retirement to beginning a new career.”

Name: King Don (a.k.a. “Kingsley”)
Born: 2008
Color: Bay
Sire: Repent
Dam: Jill Rabbit
Sale History: none
Race Record: 1-1-0-0
Race Earnings: $8,260

If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz ([email protected]) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.

Jen Roytz is the marketing and communications director at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. She also handles the farm's Thoroughbred aftercare efforts. She currently owns two retired Thoroughbreds: Point of Impact (by Point Given; a.k.a. Boomer), who retired from racing in late 2011 and is just starting back under saddle to find his forte as a riding horse, and Shotgun Shine (by Tale of the Cat, a.k.a. Gage), who is in training as a hunter/jumper. Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.

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