Kirkpatrick & Co. Presents In Their Care: Lindemann Will Never Forget Her First Horse - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Kirkpatrick & Co. Presents In Their Care: Lindemann Will Never Forget Her First Horse

Lorita Lindemann was a teenager, an innocent, until one moment changed everything.

She finished her classes and hurried to Rockingham Park to say goodbye to Federal Sin. “Chestnut gelding. White blaze I will never forget,” said Lindemann, recalling her first horse.

She knew the veteran's racing days were over. The parting was made easier because she had been told that he would be adopted as a riding pony. And so she led trusting Federal Sin onto a van, content in knowing that a wonderful new home awaited a horse that meant everything to her.

She later learned the horrifying truth. That van ride ended at a slaughterhouse, where poor Federal Sin met a terrifying end. “You cried and you got over it,” Lindemann said. “But you never forget.”

Her anger, the anguish that accompanied such a betrayal, turned into a passion for keeping other former racehorses from such an awful end. Her dedication to that cause, combined with her skill as an assistant to Joe Sharp, led her to win the Dedication to Racing Award sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. The Dedication to Racing Award is part of the annual Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards created in 2016 by Godolphin USA.

Lindemann, 48, greatly appreciated joining honorees in other categories during mid-October ceremonies at Keeneland. She was selected from among more than 200 nominees. But she said, “That's not what I look for. From the beginning, it was just done from the bottom of my heart, not to get any recognition.”

The same can be said for Michael Blowen, founder of Old Friends, a sanctuary for retired Thoroughbreds that he established in 2003. Lindemann and Blowen are kindred spirits – and then some.

They met when they shared a barn at Rockingham, the Salem, N.H., track that ran its final live race in 2009. An 18-year-old Lindemann taught Blowen, then a Boston Globe writer, everything she had learned from Joseph Gilbert. Although Gilbert was illiterate, the native of Cajun country in Louisiana knew so much about a Thoroughbred's legs that he was referred to far and wide as “Shin Buck.”

Lorita Lindemann with Michael Blowen, whom she met during her days at Rockingham Park in New Hampshire

Lindemann was raised by Annette Fantasia, a single mother. An uncle, Alfred Fantasia, worked in various capacities in the racing industry and provided a strong influence. She never knew her biological father.

For the last 30 years or so, Blowen has filled an aching need for Lindemann. “I was looking for a dad,” she said, “and he was looking for a daughter.”

The absence of adoption papers does not matter to either of them. “It doesn't have to be official,” Blowen said. “It just has to be sincere.”

Blowen also was duped while he was new to racing. “They used to say at Suffolk that some of these horses that were broken down were headed to retirement homes in Maine,” he recalled.

He eventually realized there were no retirement homes in Maine, at least not for Thoroughbreds. Blowen did what he could to help Lindemann cope with the loss of Federal Sin.

“I think that changed her whole life,” he said. “She's never gotten over it. I think that still motivates her.”

Lindemann used to feel as if she was a lone voice when it came to the need for aftercare. “You're a kid and you're a woman. You're 18. Nobody is listening,” she said.

She continues to be exasperated by those who do not concern themselves about the future of their horses once they have given their all and cannot race another step.

“These horses are why we have what we have today — houses, possessions. These horses have done this. Without these horses, we couldn't do this,” she said. “It saddens me that people lose that concept along the way.”

On the positive side, the cause has gained tremendous momentum and a level of financial backing that was once only a dream. When there is a horse in need, Lindemann has developed a reputation as one to call.

“I can't even put a number on the number of horses that she got off the track and put in proper places,” Blowen said.

Lindemann regularly places horses above her needs. She only recently scheduled knee surgery to treat an injury she neglected for the last three years.

“She's dogged. She knows who to call and how to ask for something,” Blowen said. “They all respect her on the backside because she knows what she's doing. She's got everybody's trust back there.”

Lindemann with some of her equine friends

Blowen emphasized that each rescue entails a great deal of hard work and some difficult conversations. “It's easy to feel bad for these horses. It's easy to get emotional,” he said. “But it's really, really hard to dig down and find out where they are, find out how to get them out of a situation and find a place for them. That's the hard part.”

When the going gets tough, Lindemann needs only to think of Federal Sin – and that unforgettable white blaze.

Tom Pedulla wrote for USA Today from 1995-2012 and has been a contributor to the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Blood-Horse, America's Best Racing and other publications.

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