New Blog: Behind-the-Scenes Experiences and Happy Endings

Hello and welcome to my blog! I have been thinking about starting a blog for awhile now, and am excited it’s finally coming to fruition.

This blog will take a look at some of my fun, behind-the-scenes experiences and oddball encounters while working in the Thoroughbred industry, and it will also include some of the rescue stories and triumphs in racing that often get lost in the shuffle, but need to be told.

If you have a story you would like to share, please email me—I always love to hear about the “behind the blinkers” horse racing-related tales from around the country and world.

In my first entry, I wanted to share with you the retirement and retraining story of Buster Bailey: 

After 94 starts mostly on the Illinois circuit, Buster Bailey is living the good life at Robert N. Clay’s Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky.

The son of Mister Baileys was galloped as a 2-year-old at Stony Oak Farm near Paris, Ky. by Jen Roytz, who now serves as Three Chimneys’ marketing and communications director. Roytz hadn’t followed Buster Bailey throughout his career, but discovered by chance last year that he was still running at age 11.

“I had no reason to even remember him other than the fact he had a cute name—I couldn’t even remember what he looked like,” said Roytz of the chestnut gelding, who was stabled at Arlington Park when she found him. “My plan was to just try to get him off of the track, rehab him, let him recuperate, and then retrain him and give him to a lesson stable or someone who would enjoy him.”

Roytz explained that while the gelding’s former owner Margaret Lazuka and trainer William Lazuka took good care of Buster Bailey, he had never had a significant break throughout his nine years of racing. The gelding, who campaigned steadily from 2001-2009, finally retired last summer with a record of 6-10-8 and earnings of $152,492. In his lone start in stakes company, Buster Bailey finished third in the 2002 Explosive Darling Handicap at Arlington.

After rediscovering Buster Bailey’s whereabouts and deciding to purchase the horse, Roytz took a chance and asked Three Chimneys officials if she could board him at the farm. To her delight, they obliged. Her next challenge was coming up with the money to ship the horse to Kentucky, but a solution came sooner than she thought.

Roytz explained how Sallee Horse Vans, a national equine transportation company, had offered to ship Buster Bailey for free from the Windy City to the Bluegrass. When asked why, the company simply responded, “The horse has worked hard for a lot of people--it’s our turn to do right by the horse and we try to anytime we can.”

As a further testament to the caretaking skills of Buster Bailey’s former owner and trainer, the veterinarian who initially examined the horse upon his arrival (who also didn’t charge, with the same “do right by the horse” mentality) said he had retired sound and in overall good condition, considering his age and the fact he was heavily raced.

“He raced without a break, but is now in a lush pasture filled with Kentucky bluegrass,” said Roytz, adding that some of Buster Bailey’s neighbors at Three Chimneys include 2003 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Cajun Beat, and the dams of four grade I winners. “Three Chimneys has allowed me to keep Buster here as long as he needs to rest and recuperate from a long career. He is now on a part of our farm for our resident retirees…while his resume sure doesn’t compare to the others he’s with, he will be cared for just as well.

“I didn’t expect anyone else to go out of their way for me or the horse--I was just trying to do a good deed,” Roytz continued. “But everyone involved with Buster Bailey has made sure they’ve done right by him. This goes on so many times in the horse industry, but is seldom spoken about.”

Roytz plans on putting Buster Bailey back under tack in the spring, and eventually finding him a forever home.

Remember, if you have stories to share, please email me at



Leave a Comment:


What a wonderful story. I love reading these kinds of stories. Judging from the pictures Buster is enjoying himself. He is a pretty boy, someone is going to lucky to have him.

03 Feb 2010 3:18 PM

Thanks for a very up-lifting story, the industry sorely needs it at the moment. If I lived back East, I'd be knocking at the door to adopt such a deserving warrior. This is a story dear to me, I am one of those that believe these wonderful animals that have given their lives to racing deserve only the very best treatment in retirement. Also, I think some careful thought must be given to how long some of these horses are raced. Some have raced nearly a hundred times and I find that unexceptable. Having said that, I thank you and all the people you mentioned for giving this horse his life back.

03 Feb 2010 3:37 PM

He looks like a lovely mover, I hope he finds a forever home (not a lesson stable)...he deserves to be a buddy.

Wonderful for all involved!

03 Feb 2010 4:05 PM

Thank you for sharing this story! What a handsome guy and I agree, he looks like a great mover. Someone will be happy to make him their riding horse.

He looks very happy!

03 Feb 2010 6:20 PM
Jen R.

I'm the "Jen" from the story above and I just wanted to add one thing.

The Lazuka's LOVED this guy and treated him like gold. In fact, when Buster arrived in KY and the vet looked him over, he was amazed to hear that he was as old as he was and had run as many times as he had because he was so clean and sound. This truly speaks to the level of care and attention Buster was given as a racer. Thanks to the Lazukas for doing right by their horse!

03 Feb 2010 7:25 PM

A horse that has raced for 9 years, and retires sound, and looks as good as he does, has all the "resume" he needs, and plenty more than most of his stablemates! Give me those sturdy and durable genes any day. Thank you and all the others who've helped him. Betcha he makes it to 30!

03 Feb 2010 8:07 PM

what a great looking horse and what a terrific story! thanks Esther! this is a most welcome blog.

03 Feb 2010 8:42 PM
Karen in Indiana

He's beautiful! And he looks happy.

03 Feb 2010 10:44 PM

He has lovely conformation and great bone. I think he qualifies for an iron horse. His pedigree is pretty good too.  I wish I could adopt him.

03 Feb 2010 11:07 PM

A great story and he looks just wonderful!!Lucky person

who gets to be his forever

friend. I have searched for

news of Pancho,Curlin's buddy.I hope he has another friend,he was so attached to

Curlin. Any news of him would be very welcome.

04 Feb 2010 1:10 AM
Grand Prix Show Jumper

Great story.  People who understand that a horse has done a lot for a lot of humans and deserves to get a little something for it are the real deal in my opinion.  Sort of like "paying it forward" these particular people don't "owe" that particular horse anything, but lots of others do, and these people are willing to pay that debt.  Good Karma for Jen, Three Chimneys, Sallee...

And good to "name names"... I will certainly think to steer any business I can towards those parties.

Also, re a post above, don't knock all "lesson stables" out of hand, lots of those horses get lots of appreciation and lots of treats, and it's often not very taxing work.  A lot of these horses that have done a lot of racing and are still sound really like to work and there are only so many 'pasture ornament' spots, so those maybe should go to the ones who can't work anymore.  

04 Feb 2010 8:30 AM

Congrats Esther!  Love the concept of the blog and your first post... happy endings are the best. :)

04 Feb 2010 10:59 AM

What a nice surprise this morning: a new blog! :) and a great story to start with. Buster is a lovely horse. Kudos to everybody involved in his retirement. Kudos also to his former connections to have taken such good care of him during his very long career! Thank you Esther for bringing this happy ending story to us.

04 Feb 2010 11:02 AM
Soldier Course

What a wonderful inaugural story this is for a new blog with great potential. Looking forward to following it. Thank you, Esther.

Did anyone see Time magazine's recent article about the rescue of fighting pit bulls? The photographs and their captions were remarkable. I couldn't read the text of the article because I was afraid that it would be too upsetting, but it appeared that this tough story got top billing.    

04 Feb 2010 11:57 AM


I love this story about Buster. I agree the public needs to hear about these types of stories.

I thought I would share a story very similr to Busteer's. There is a good friend of mine that lives here in the Southern Cal area. She was able to score a racehorse. An acquaitence of her's was given a 3 year old gelding named Moldy Joe who had finished DEAD LAST in a claiming race. In fact the sire of Moldy Joe was a STREET CRY.

Joey now lives with a wonderful family and is now being trained to be a dressage show horse. I see Joey often and he is soooo loving and giving. I bring him and his 4 other room mates 50 lbs of carrots weekly.

04 Feb 2010 12:06 PM

Sallee Horse Vans shipped an ex-racehorse I gave away to a good home, from Va. to upstate NY, for free. They said they are just doing their part.  

04 Feb 2010 12:30 PM

Thank you for such a heart warming story. When most people here about race horses, they think about what happen to Ferdinand and think all are like that.

Thank you for the friendier side of racing.

04 Feb 2010 12:47 PM

Wow, what a great name for a blog!    :-)

04 Feb 2010 12:53 PM

I just happened to see this blog and started reading.  I will be a regular visitor.  Thanks.

04 Feb 2010 1:07 PM

Its a good story with a happy ending. He's very attractive. Looks like he'd make a good jumper.

04 Feb 2010 1:13 PM

We need a lot more stories like this one in our business. Well done, look forward to the next one.

04 Feb 2010 2:06 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

Thanks for this great story.  Looking forward to more.

04 Feb 2010 4:00 PM

Thank you, Esther, for a great new blog to enjoy.  Buster is indeed a very fortunate horse and I thank you for bringing his story to us, complete with his gorgeous pictures.  The parties involved in his retirement are fantastic examples of all the good things we love about racing.  Thank you!

04 Feb 2010 5:10 PM
Grand Prix Show Jumper

This is a great story but I do want to mention that horses can be racing as older horses without necessarily needing to be 'rescued' from it.  

I know a trainer whom I met because I tried to buy a horse of his when the horse was six, thinking maybe he was winding down his racing career.  The horse was still racing last year at 9 and I tried again to see if he wanted to sell him when he came to town (he still doesn't).  Then I got to meet the horse and the trainer and spend some time with them.  This horse will probably race as a ten year old and will race as long as HE wants. (He does get rest every year, however). He's a super classy, happy horse with cold, tight legs.  His people really care about him and want to have him in the barn even after he's done racing.  He might be a pony horse, he might just be a riding horse, but he's in great hands.  

Hope that type of story is inspiring to some people interested in a blog like this.  Some horses get lucky.

04 Feb 2010 5:14 PM

I found a link to this blog in the Blood Horse Daily News. This article was wonderful and I look forward to reading many more! Thank you!

04 Feb 2010 7:40 PM

With so much bad news everyday....finally a 'feel good story'.

05 Feb 2010 7:58 AM
Pamela Gaska

Great blog Esther!  Really nice.  Looks like you've been busy!!!

05 Feb 2010 1:49 PM
el beleco

I agree with all the comments about this preatty horse,he is a good boy and i hope he finds a good home.

05 Feb 2010 10:15 PM
Diane Roytz

What a nice treat for me to read such a nice story about my daughter!!!  Plus, Buster takes a GREAT picture.  I'm so proud of both of them:)

06 Feb 2010 2:58 PM
Ida Lee

Beautiful story about a beautiful horse. I look forward to your future stories. Makes me wish I had a forever home to offer this lovely creature.

06 Feb 2010 7:32 PM
needler in Virginia

Buster's very existence seems to hang on the talent of his trainers AND (I'd bet) a lot from his breeding. He is a gorgeous moving son of Street Cry........ now, with THAT pedigree and THAT racing history, don't you think Street Cry presents as a GREAT option for breeders? Wouldn't everyone be happier with better breeding practices and better trainers? Never mind that this story came out FAR better than anyone could have ever expected. Buster is a walking advertisement for doing it right!

Well done to everyone: to Jen Roytz, the trainers, as well as Sallee and the vet and the perfectly marvelous people at Three Chimneys. Buster ran his eyeballs out for years and came up a winner .... FINALLY!

Cheers and safe trips to all.

06 Feb 2010 10:35 PM


07 Feb 2010 4:39 AM

Well done all!  Keep writing - I'll keep reading! Best good luck wishes!

07 Feb 2010 2:58 PM

What a wonderful story!  Just what I love to hear, the good stories, and there are so many of them.  Most horse people do love the horses above all else.  Buster is lovely and makes me wish I could have him for my own.  Blessings on all the good guys involved with Buster.

07 Feb 2010 3:40 PM
andrea in united kingdom

Such a fantastic and uplifting story. Made me smile:} Good luck to buster wherever his future lies!

07 Feb 2010 4:28 PM

He's so beautiful!  I hope we can get updates when he starts his re-training!

07 Feb 2010 8:19 PM

I'm a regular at Arlington Park, and I've seen Buster Bailey man times during his career. He's a lovely horse, who always gave his all and I am so happy he's been retired and in such good company.

All the people connections that did the right thing is very positive and uplifting. Esther, terrific story keep up the wonderful work and keep these stories coming. Thank you!

07 Feb 2010 10:38 PM
Jen R.

Just a little correction to needler in Virginia's comment. Buster is actually by Mister Baileys, not Street Cry (though Street Cry is definitely a nice option for breeders).

Thanks for the wonderful compliments!

08 Feb 2010 4:20 PM
needler in Virginia

Sorry about that, Jen R; you are absolutely right, and I was obviously having (as my daughter says) a "mental pause moment"! But Buster still moves beautifully, as I really have seen the get of Street Cry do, so cut an old, crazy broad some slack.......but Jen, you're welcome to correct me ANYTIME. Now I have to go back and try to figure out WHY I thought he is by Street Cry!

Cheers to Buster, and his connections, and all those who care for him; what you have done is a HUGE mitzvah.

Safe trips to all.

08 Feb 2010 9:55 PM

Esther, I loved your "Heart of a Hero" article, made me cry...I knew Ranger Heartley had to have been named in honor of someone in our military, thanks for the "rest of the story".

You are a very good writer.

09 Feb 2010 6:30 AM

Great story!  Glad to see the blog is up and running--- Are you still "Marr" in all of your publications? ;)

Look forward to reading more...

11 Feb 2010 12:35 PM

Buster Bailey was a favorite horse of mine.  I live in the chicago area and my daughter stables at a barn that margaret did at one time.  My father was a long time handicapper.  This story really means alot to me.  I have a high school friend named Brian Bailey.  Brian knew my Dad and was also a horse player.  Over the years Brian became known to my Dad as Buster Bailey after the horse.  My Dad passed away 2 weeks ago.  Brian came to the wake telling the story of how he was known as Buster Bailey because of the horse and my Dad.  If you are looking for a place for Buster at a nice barn with an English rider, please let me know.  I would be honored to provide that home and second life for Buster Bailey.

10 Jan 2011 7:48 PM

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