Inspirational Reunion for Retired Racehorse Inked and Kirsten Fada

Kirsten Fada reunited with her beloved Inked. (Holly M. Smith Photography)

In this horse life, we are truly blessed to meet so many amazing equines. We are equally as cursed, it seems, as far too often our amazing friends fall out of contact. While we might have them in our stable mail, watch races, and keep up with their work tab, eventually the notifications stop.

It is then that the unsettling “where are they?” wonder sets in and the difficult realization that you may never know. Admittedly, by this point I try really hard not to think about it. While I would love to know that they are all in the lush, green pastures they deserve, we all realize that is not always the case.

Inked at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2017. (Courtesy of Kirsten Fada)

It is by fate and the work of angels who walk this earth, that one of my lost boys has reappeared.

Bought by my boyfriend at the 2017 Keeneland September sale as a yearling, I was given the opportunity to choose his name, Inked. We spent the summer together at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, when he was a 2-year-old. From his first few days galloping to his first time in the starting gate, I had the opportunity to ride him daily. Always kind and loving, he was a barn favorite wherever he went. He was claimed in February 2019 in Arkansas, and later in the year raced five times in Iowa with one second-place finish. From there he went to Wyoming, where in his 14th lifetime start, he finally won his first race for $4,900. His last race was in Oregon last October when he was entered for a claiming price of $3,200 and that was the last update I had on him.

While I was trying my hardest not to let my mind wonder where he ended up, there was someone out there who did make sure she knew where he was. It was his breeder, Susan Young. She had been following him and keeping a close eye. When he ran at Grants Pass Downs she had gone to see him, because coincidentally she lives in Oregon. When she inquired about plans after racing, the answer she received was not satisfactory. She bought him, then sent him to the farm where he was born and raised in Kentucky to be retired.

On April 24, I was sitting on my gelding, Ryman. We were just hanging out and talking to the girls who work for Second Stride, which is a Thoroughbred aftercare organization that operates out of the farm where I keep Ry. They were telling me about the four new arrivals of the day. One of which was my Inked.

Kirsten Fada happily reunited with Inked in 2020. (Holly M. Smith Photography)

It was sheer surprise to everyone, as I had no idea of any of this. The last update that I had was the Equibase notification when he ran in October. The girls at the organization had no idea of my connection to the horse either and were equally as floored as I was, that he very literally came right back to me.

After regaining oxygen, upon the realization that Inked had not fallen off the earth but was in fact just steps away, without hesitation I adopted him. I knew that this was one of those things in life where you just know what needs to be done.

While he is recognizable by his oversized head and slightly roman nose, he lacks tone and looks quite different than when I knew him. It is clear that the last year has been rough on him. Time (and spring grass) heals all and he will once again shine. We will only have his new white markings on his nose and head, where a small fitting halter grew into his face and scarred, to remind us of his journey. As his breeder said, the rest of the story is for he and I to write together.

Welcome home Inked!

Thank you to everyone who had a hand in getting him here. While there was truly divine intervention, it is the hard work and love that people have for these magnificent animals. I cannot thank you enough.

Holly M. Smith photography
Kirsten Fada is currently an exercise rider on the racetrack, based out of Louisville, Ky. After previously working as an assistant trainer, she recently has taken a step back to spend more time training her own off-track Thoroughbreds. Driven by the desire to learn, Kirsten has always wanted to better understand the horse. With extensive young horse experience and a dressage background, she believes in the improvement of a horse through solid fundamentals, universally across all breeds and disciplines. You can follow Kirsten's journey with Inked on Facebook.

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