Barn Notes: Friday, June 14, 2013 on Horserace Insider
No matter one’s spiritual, religious or otherwise transcendent beliefs, there is often something to be said for the intangible and seemingly divine power of perspective. For Voodoomon Stable owner Vanessa Nye, her experience as part of the racing industry has given her the kind of bittersweet-glazed smile and outlook one can only gain through facing the extremes of high and low within such a passion-filled field.
The story of Nye’s Voodoomon Stable is an answer within itself. The stable’s namesake is a horse Nye cared for dearly named Voodoomon who suffered a fatal injury during a race on May 28, 2009. Absolutely devastated, the owner had a grueling time making proverbial heads or tails about the situation of her grief. Ultimately, she decided to saddle up and keep riding as an owner of racehorses – this time channeling her anguish into activism.
Since Voodoomon’s passing, Nye has renamed her stable in his memory, as well as spent the last four years giving back to the breed which has, despite all the distress of an adverse episode, brought her sheer delight. “I rescue and retire horses in his name because I want to keep his legacy going in a positive way. I want people to know that they can do good by helping horses. Every (owner) should be doing this and giving back. Every horse deserves a second chance (after their careers are over). We’ve done so much good work in the last four years for other racehorses since this happened,” Nye explained.
“I believe, and always have, that retiring these horses properly, transitioning them into other careers and supporting the aftercare of these great animals is paramount for the racing industry’s future. I do a lot of work in Florida for the rescue and retirement of thoroughbreds and I am on the board of the thoroughbred retirement of Tampa,” she continued.
Nye, who keeps her local horses with trainer Jim McMullen, lives in Tampa, Florida, where she races her horses in the winter at Tampa Bay Downs. At Arlington International Racecourse, she flies up to Chicago to be on hand for an annual race she has sponsored in the memory of Voodoomon and to bring awareness to others.
On Sunday, June 9, in a very special turn of events, Nye had one of her own horses enter and win the memorial race. Afterward, the owner was emotionally ecstatic and visibly jubilant. “Four years ago, it was the worst day of my life, so to win the race we named in his honor means so much to me. (Voodoomon) was definitely looking down on us today. We’ve been very successful on the track since then, but never in a million years did I imagine we’d win this race. How great is that! I’m just so excited,” she exclaimed.
With the help of the Arlington racing department, Nye was able to enjoy such an exuberant experience. “What is nice about Arlington (management) is they know I fly back and forth from Tampa, so they said to me, ‘Why don’t you do the race when one of your horses is going to run so you can make it a happy experience,’” Nye explained. “And, then this horse is named Doimakeyahappy won! He is just a 4-year-old and this was only his second start on a synthetic. I think he loves the Polytrack.”
Nye is also dedicated to keeping the good “juju” flowing in Voodoomon’s honor. “I want Voodoomon’s name to live on. I want other owners and patrons to know what I have been doing and what they too can do to help support,” the affable owner elucidated. “I feel so passionate about the rescue and retirement of thoroughbreds that for my last couple birthdays and Christmases every year, I have asked family and friends to make donations to thoroughbred retirements and rescues in lieu of gifts.
“My intention is to bring about awareness and ‘doing right’ by your horses. Every year since Voodoomon passed I have claimed a racehorse off the track in need of retirement, and I have done that for the past three years. All three horses are doing wonderfully,” she reported. “I’m going to be writing a check to Galloping Out in honor of Voodoomon and the win here in his memorial race.”
Galloping Out is a cooperative effort between the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Arlington International Racecourse and Hawthorne Race Course whose mission statement is “Providing funding for the rescue, care, rehabilitation and retraining of off-the-track thoroughbreds.”
In the end, it is the worst of interventions that has produced the best of intentions for altruistic Nye. Her sensible perspective remains sensitive out of necessity, and her imagination and initiative are the kind of magic that should be cast and spread in an industry of such charm and glamour.