The scheduled meeting between local officials, state veterinarians and volunteers on a Mercer County, Kentucky farm regarding the welfare of more than 40 horses owned by former trainer Maria Borell and/or her father Chuck didn’t go exactly as planned on Monday morning. However, although no official legal action was taken regarding the long-term future of the horses, progress was made. The official decision on the future of the horses is expected to come from the Mercer County attorney, Ted Dean, who has the sole authority to make the final decision, at yet another gathering of the same officials at the farm first thing on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile the attention to the care of the horses increased fourfold Monday, according to lead volunteer Angie Cheak, and more help is starting to roll in.
“We had six vets out here, four from Rood & Riddle and two from the state and they went from horse to horse analyzing their conditions and treating if they needed it,” Cheak said. “I think maybe five or so will go to a clinic for 24-hour acute care within the next day or so just to be safe, but they aren’t in any danger in the meantime. They are eating and drinking and are already much better off.”
One thing Cheak did point out is that the total number of Borell horses on the property actually is 44 and there may have been some confusion over the number because of the handful of horses owned by another tenant who shares some of the farm space.
“The official number is 44 and the vets looked at every one of them today,” Cheak said. “Moving forward there will be a veterinarian at the state’s request here a minimum of three times a week but other than that, I don’t know what will happen. Tomorrow we will know and a protocol will be set up that we will all follow and a more permanent situation will be put in place and the horses will benefit, thank God. I do believe one horse will actually be leaving tomorrow, though.”
Additionally, Cheak said, The Jockey Club and the Grayson Research Foundation made a $15,000 donation to the sheriff’s office, which will be applied as a credit at a local feed store for supplies moving forward. Also the mayor of nearby Burgin county arranged for three round bales of hay to be delivered today and the NTRA donated a John Deere Gator farm vehicle to help move feed and necessities more efficiently around the farm. The volunteers had been regulated to move things physically themselves for the past several weeks.
More donations in the way of feed and supplies continue to pour in and a GoFundMe page set up for the sole benefit of the horses has surpassed $11,500 with more needed. Cheak said there isn’t a supply they don’t need, whether it be brushes, hoof picks, buckets, fly masks and basic care items, including wheelbarrows for mucking stalls and paddocks and moving feed. She said the Borells left them with no supplies and the group of volunteers has made due with their own donations or purchases so far. She also said a blacksmith has been called to do every horse’s feet, as all are in dire need of attention.
Victoria Keith, of Fox Hill Farm, was also at the informal meeting today and said in a Facebook post on the Fox Hill Farm page that she’s pleased with the reaction from all of the county and state officials and proud of the tireless work the volunteers have dedicated to helping the horses. She said she will be returning tomorrow with some other supplies for both the horses and the volunteers.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of US Racing.
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.
After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.
In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”
Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.