Saturday April 20, 2013 Arson Squad visited Keeneland with Michael Blowen to help raise awareness of Old Friends Retirement facility and educate fans on the importance of Thoroughbred aftercare.
Aside from the crowd, Michael and I were talking about how Arson Squad was doing and Michael told stories about how Arson's paddock buddy (I'm Charismatic) and Arson play very hard. Michael said he actually needed to get Arson back sooner than later, since the equi-friends are attached at the hip.
While Arson was being paraded in the Keeneland saddling paddock, I did notice he had been bitten or brazed by a hoof, but hearing Michael's story put the pieces together and we both laughed.
This was really good to hear after you learn what Arson has been through...
Arson Squad burned his way into my mind in my early few years at Blood-Horse Publications. His career started in 2006 at age 3 as mine started in 2007. I was still learning a lot about horse racing. Thus, I tended to follow entertaining names, but usually the names that turned in positive performances and these horses became endeared to me. Thus my obsession with Jedi Code, Dancefloormaniac, Bug Juice, Dark Vader, and many more!
For several years on the track, I kept an eye on the name Arson Squad. He did not disappoint in any way. Check out his achievements!
35 Starts - 9 First - 1 Second - 8 Third
Total Earnings: $1,190,181
Stakes Won: San Pedro S., Swaps Breeders' Cup S., Strub S., Meadowlands Cup H., Skip Away S., Alysheba S., Mighty Forum S.
Stakes Placed: Challenger S.,
Stakes Shown: Lazaro Barrera Memorial S., Affirmed H., Queens County S., Evening Attire S., Irish Tower S., Queens County S.
I noticed his notifications mysteriously stopped their usual arrival routines; works, preps, entries, and races. I was devastated upon hearing the news he had broken down in a training accident. But thankfully his owner Samantha Siegel sent him to surgery where he had more than 20 screws placed in his injured leg along with several rods. After he recovered, she placed him at Old Friends. Arson had more than covered his costs and earned his keep.
After his surgery, Arson was still in recovery mode and isolated from the other horses upon arriving at Old Friends in the winter. I and a few others ventured out to see how he was doing, but we were unable to see Arson. On a farm tour during that visit though, we learned how Arson Squad was being supported by the local fire department and I smiled thinking about how perfect it is that the fire department was supporting a horse named Arson Squad.
However, in June of last year my fiancee surprised me with a share in Arson Squad at Old Friends for my birthday. Arson was still not allowed to be seen by farm guests, however Michael took me to his stall and let me stand in the door as he fed treats to the talented horse. I was so impressed with how he was looking after seeing the infamous x-ray and hearing what happened. That gesture and moment meant a lot!
I definitely do not make enough money to own a share in a partnership of a horse, but the next best thing by far is to own a share in a former race horse!
At the TOBA ownership seminar I was helping film, held at Keeneland on Friday, April 19th, several people—including trainers, owners, aftercare facility staff, and veterinarians—spoke on the importance of aftercare for retired racehorses. I do what I can to help, as I can and would encourage you to do something as you are able, even if it is ten dollars here and there or even if it is a jar on your desk for a penny fund to accumulate into a donation. There are plenty of TCA-accredited organizations that could use our help.
Arson Squad at Keeneland 4/20/2013. All photos are by Erica Larson: