Why We're Doing This, and How You Can Help

What would inspire two men, ages 65 and 59, to take on 11 racetracks in 21 stages and 25 days over 1,000 kilometers...on their bicycles?

The way we see it, Thoroughbred race horses have contributed to the very meaning of life, so they too deserve to retire with dignity and not be sent to the slaughterhouse just because they now do six furlongs in 1:16 instead of 1:12.

As American expatriates living in Paris, we have decided to ride our own Tour de France--riding from racetrack to racetrack across France--during the 'real' Tour de France to raise money for Thoroughbred retirement. But we need your help.

We invite you to follow our journey, and if you'd like to sponsor us, just click on www.firstgiving.com/trf or on the Sponsor Us link below.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation currently cares for over 1200 unwanted horses. When you sponsor us, we are helping them in their mission to save ALL unwanted racehorses.

Sunday, June 6, 2010



Don Altemose, a former trainer, has sent us this true story about the amazing restorative partnership between horse and human, which in some ways parallels the winning longshot exacta of the TRF program: save unwanted horses while saving unwanted human beings.
With his article on Eximir, Don included the following note:
I’m not usually at a total loss for words. My hope is that this article helps you to accomplish your goal of saving horses. It’s a wonderful thing what the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is doing for the horse population. I get very warm feelings when someone can accomplish such positive goals by doing things they enjoy. I’m overwhelmed by all the positive Karma generated.
Don Altemose

The story behind the horse and my wife is this: She was diagnosed with cancer and the diagnosis was that it was the kind that spread fast and didn’t respond to treatment very well.
After a summer of daily radiation and two hospital stays with radium implants and an operation that followed, she made it through. However, she became very depressed and felt guilty that she couldn’t contribute monetarily to the household, not being able to hold a job. Too weak.
The horse enters the picture because we bought a mare. Her daddy, an Arkansas bred, had run 4th in the Kentucky Derby. We bred the mare to a stallion that was never proven because that was the extent of what we could afford, having to keep up with medical treatments, tests, etc. (my girl has marfan’s syndrome).
To get to the point, we got a foal that was, to put it mildly, very straggly. If a horse would have litters, this foal would have been the runt. I, as well as others who saw the horse, were of the opinion that the best thing to do was to give the foal away after weaning.
My wife wouldn’t hear of it. She said, this is my horse and I’m keeping it. So, she became her groom. Every day she brushed the horse, fed the mare and the foal the best of oats (steam crimped), etc. She treated it like only a mother could.
The important thing is that it (the horse) gave her reason to get up in the morning. Eventually the horse began to grow and actually got to about 16.1 hands, but not very heavy. A perfect profile for a router, so into training she went.
I was the trainer and I will never be confused with an Allen Jerkens, so it took me 7 races or so to figure out that she was a one-run horse. Anyway, I think she wound up winning 10 races and with the bunches of 2nds and 3rds (mainly because of her late running style, which we know requires lots of breaks).
And all but one of those wins were for C3500 in conditions. The other win was a C5000 open for fillies and mares.
My wife’s health and outlook improved tremendously and taking her horse to the races was what she looked forward to. We always shipped to race so we would go together and then at the track she would sit with the horse while we waited until race time. That had a calming effect on both her and the horse.
This went on for several seasons and I had never thought of it before but I think when the horses started to lose a step or two, which we couldn’t afford, so did the health of my wife. The cancer returned and the doctors said it was because of the massive of radiation and radium used in her treatment. Eventually, the horse was given to friends who raced, and in the mid-90s, my wife passed.
I am certain the horse helped her to live a happier life and the other thing is that without my wife’s care, I am sure the horse would have never raced. The name of the horse was Eximir---thus my screen name.
That’s the story. Those two were meant to be together. I’m not looking for any sympathy or anything like that. I am thankful that the horse and my wife found each other, and because of that, we had lots more time together than what we otherwise would have had.


  1. Beautiful story. Reminds me a lot of Cigar, and my mom.
    Long story short. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1994. Never smoked a single cigarette her whole life. But there it was.
    Went to Sloan-Kettering, had great doctors, but lung cancer is a death sentence. But she responded very well to her first treatments, far beyond anyone's expectations, and by fall, she was feeling good. On the eve of the NYRA Mile, she had a dream that the 6 horse won the race. So she got up, told my dad they were going to Aqueduct, and off they went. The 6 horse was Cigar, and he won by 8. You're a racing fan, so you know the rest of the story, but she somehow tied her doing well to his doing well, and convinced herself that as long as he kept winning, she'd keep succeeding in her treatments. She followed him all over the country, saw every race, my husband went to Dubai for the first World Cup. You can't imagine the stress we felt every time he ran, since she believed this so firmly.
    She lived 5 1/2 years from her diagnosis, nothing short of miraculous, and we'll always remember how he inspired and helped her.
    Needless to say...I loved your friend's story.

  2. This story was written by my dad. I remember those times clearly, and how much devotion mom had to Eximir. I'd forgotten about having the link to this story, and sat here in tears remembering the details. This is such a touching story, and I'm proud of dad for writing it, and the wonderful responses to it.