Stars of Yesterday: Looking Back at Best Arkansas Derby Winners
Photos courtesy of Acacia Courtney
One year ago, the course of my life was totally altered as I was crowned Miss Connecticut 2014. I had the opportunity to compete in the Miss America pageant, was named a top-15 semifinalist, and continued to travel the state working with different charitable organizations, speaking at schools, and advocating for change in a variety of areas.
Throughout my time as Miss Connecticut, I tried to take advantage of every opportunity presented to me, and soak in all that I could from the people I met. One of the most popular questions I got (besides the one about whether I was a real-life princess that children usually asked) was what I wanted to do as my career.
The response is usually surprise when I said I wanted to work in horse racing. And by surprise I mean people staring at me blankly and saying, “what?”
This past weekend, I crowned a new Miss Connecticut for 2015, meaning that my reign has officially come to an end. But, I will always be a “Forever Miss Connecticut,” as they call us. Basically it means I still have bragging rights for the rest of my life.
COURTNEY BEING CROWNED, 2014, AND CROWNING MISS CONNECTICUT 2015
Side note: you all know that I am participating in the Million Dollar Finish media competition. Saturday, June 27 was the day of the Santa Anita Gold Cup, as well as the day of the Miss Connecticut pageant. You can bet I took a few minutes from pageant activities the day before to get my picks in. See below.
So what is the life of a Forever Miss Connecticut? Well, I am the type of person that doesn’t know what to do with free time, so I can assure you that I will still be busy with a million different projects and activities. As you know, I run a nonprofit for Off-Track Thoroughbreds, and am a huge advocate for aftercare. Oh, and I need to graduate college one of these days. That’s planned for December. I’m rounding the final turn.
One of those projects that will be keeping me busy is a bay gelding that recently joined the cast of Racing for Home’s characters. He is a tattooed Thoroughbred, although it was incredibly difficult to read the letter and numbers on his upper lip, and his past is completely unknown to us. Thus, we named him Mystery. And every day we solve another tiny piece of his puzzle.
What we do know about Mystery is that he is severely malnourished and clearly suffered from neglect. At around 16.2 hands, he’s all legs and absolutely no muscle.
Mystery ran through the auction at New Holland in Pennsylvania. Luckily, someone purchased him, and that person then sent him to another auction in New Jersey. He did not sell there, and was about to be sent back to New Holland. Mystery received another stroke of luck when my dear friend Andrea Brow, a member of Racing for Home’s board of directors, was contacted by the proprietor from this auction, who usually keeps an eye out for us if any Thoroughbreds come through. His description was of a sweet bay who was “horrifyingly thin.”
Needless to say, my heart melted, and I decided to take on this mysterious OTTB (which, at first, I wasn’t even fully positive was a Thoroughbred), and Racing for Home bought him, sight unseen. He spent four weeks in quarantine in New Jersey, before being shipped to Connecticut, where he is now on his second week in quarantine here.
Thankfully, despite an abscess under his chin he tested negative for strangles, meaning that he was free from the highly contagious bacterial infection known as every owner’s nightmare. Now waiting for the results of his final test, Mystery will hopefully be able to move to the main barn by the end of this week.
AN IMPROVING MYSTERY
I believe that animals know when they have been saved, and that they are grateful. In looking at the sweet eyes of this horse, I feel like he is saying “thank you.” Patches of his fur are coming off at the slightest touch, and he has already gained weight from eating wet alfalfa and an unlimited supply of hay. It is almost as if he is molting like a phoenix, preparing to start over completely from the ashes.
I may not be able to save them all, but I know it certainly has made a difference for this one.
**We are still working to read this horse’s tattoo and find out his identity. Until we’re sure, he will remain a mystery!