Read this story about Little Cliff, a successful racehorse who originally had owners whom cared for him. Through time and a few sales, he ended up in the kill pen DESPITE the original owners having a sticker on his papers indicating on his papers to CALL IF THIS HORSE NEEDS A HOME ONCE RETIRED. Even still, no-one cared enough to contact the owners. Luckily, a good Samaritan came to his rescue. This type of complacency really fires me up in the horse industry... absolutely NO EXCUSE for the sale- New Holland, not to pay attention to this horse's papers!!!
Little Cliff rescued from slaughter
by Ed DeRosa
Little Cliff, one of two horses owner Robert LaPenta named after the late turf writer and chartcaller Cliff Guilliams, was rescued from slaughter on March 11.
Christy Sheidy, co-founder of Another Chance 4 Horses rescue in Bernville, Pennsylvania, discovered the five-year-old Gulch gelding in a direct-to-kill pen in New Holland, Pennsylvania. He had last raced in a $10,000 claiming race on March 1 at Philadelphia Park, finishing seventh of nine and earning $170 for owner LA Buzz Stable. Trainer Ramon Preciado had claimed the horse from Jimmy Moran Jr. for $10,000 on January 13.
Sheidy ran the gelding’s tattoo and had Diana Baker, formerly of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, pull a race record, which is when the connection to LaPenta and Racing Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito appeared. Zito’s wife, Kim, is involved in horse rescue efforts as well.
“Mr. LaPenta and [Zito] sent a very generous check to Christy that more than covered [Little Cliff’s] expenses,” Baker said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better or more generous response than what we received.”
In a cruel twist of fate, Moran and Guilliams both died within a week of Little Cliff’s rescue but not before Nick Zito had a chance to tell Guilliams that one of his equine namesakes had been rescued.
“The Cliff’s Edge and Little Cliff were both named after [Guilliams],” Kim Zito said. “Nick had dinner with [Guilliams] just recently and told him what had happened to Little Cliff. [Guilliams] got very emotional and very upset.”
LaPenta purchased Little Cliff for $250,000 at the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale and bought him back on a bid of $350,000 at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Calder sale of selected two-year-olds in training.
Little Cliff finished sixth behind eventual Grade 1 winners and Central Kentucky stallions Political Force and Flashy Bull in his second career start before winning his next two races by a combined 6 1/4 lengths to close out his two-year-old season. At three, he finished third in both the Leonard Richards (G3) and Sir Barton Stakes. He won three of 27 starts and earned $202,762.
Although Little Cliff had changed owners four times throughout his life before being rescued, one thing that followed him from Kentucky to New York to Florida to Pennsylvania were his Jockey Club papers, papers that Kim Zito had affixed with a white sticker that says, “If this horse needs a home when he retires, please call.”
“The tragic part of this story is that Little Cliff had this sticker on his papers, and that breaks my heart because it proves that there are people in this industry who don’t give a [darn],” Kim Zito said.