After a five-year layoff from the races, Good Credentials returned to the track at Hazel Park and caught the attention of several horsemen, including one of the youngest at the track. But, on June 18 of this year, Good Credentials ran in the fifth race at Hazel Park for a $4,000 claiming price. The gelding finished sixth, nearly 10 lengths behind the winner. His entry caught the eye of several people, including Jennifer Wirth, a lawyer and founder of One Last Race, a nonprofit that raises and distributes funds to Thoroughbred aftercare organizations. “I saw something on Twitter about Good Credentials coming off of a five-year layoff to run at age 12 and felt something needed to be done, so I contacted Gail Hirt at Beyond the Roses in Michigan and told her about the situation, hoping we could make something happen,” Wirth said. “Gail is in close proximity to the track, so she went up to the backside one morning to talk with a friend about the situation.” Hirt spoke with Kelly Spanabel, whom she had known for years and worked with in the past to help rehome horses. Spanabel offered to speak with the horse’s trainer to let him know that Beyond the Roses would be willing to take in the aging gelding if he were inclined to retire him, but the trainer declined. That was Plan A, and it was a fail. Hirt moved on to Plan B, which was to contact the horse’s owner about retiring him, but she too declined, stating that she loved the horse and wanted to run him a few more times before retiring him. “I do think she loved the horse, but I believe she had a differ-
After being claimed from what would be his last race, the 12-year-old gelding struck a pose for his new owner.
ent opinion of what was in his best interest than myself, Jennifer and the rest of us did,” Hirt said. Hirt needed a new plan. She was in the shed row of Spanabel and her longtime partner, trainer George Iacovacci, hoping they might have some insight or ideas about the situation. “I met George and Kelly about 12 years ago when I was with another aftercare group and kept up a relationship with them when I started Beyond the Roses,” Hirt said. “I was talking with them about the horse and the situation.” The couple were of the same opinion that the horse should not be back at the races after such a lengthy layoff and at his advanced age. “I know the horse’s prior connections,” Spanabel said. “Five years ago, his trainer retired him to be a riding horse. He wanted to make sure he had a good life after racing.” The group felt that something needed to be done, and it looked like claiming him was the way to do it. But the question of how to pay for it was a big one. “I cannot in good conscience take $4,000, which to us is a large sum of money that can sustain our herd for some time, to pay for a claim for a single horse—it is against our policy for how we use our funds,” Hirt said. Little did they know, but Iacovacci and Spanabel’s son, Fredrick, had been listening intently to the conversation and developing a plan of his own. “I’ll claim the horse,” said Fredrick, who has amassed roughly $15,000 in winnings from Finn B Cool in 2016. The words hung in the air for several seconds. As the trio grasped the reality of what the 12-year-old was suggest-
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 39
Published on Sep 14, 2016
Published on Sep 14, 2016
This issue of American Racehorse magazine features a long-form article about the magic of Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in Omaha, Nebraska, plus a lo...