It hurts to find any racehorse on the way to slaughter.
Waking up to news that a horse who has been racing on your home circuit for years, who you have seen race more times than you can count, has been found in a kill pen? That hurts even more.
Nine-year-old Bigtime Mac raced 66 times in a career that spanned from February of 2009 through January of this year. The Illinois-bred son of Alaskan Frost debuted at Turfway Park, but his next 65 starts all came at either Arlington or Hawthorne. The gelding won four times over the course of his career, and hit the board another ten. Two of those wins came late in his racing career: one during December of his seven-year-old year, another during April of his eight-year-old season. Throughout his racing career, all of Bigtime Mac’s best races came in the lower claiming ranks, going short on the dirt.
Being a hard knocker on the Chicago circuit ran in Bigtime Mac’s family. His dam, Lady Leal, was bred here in Illinois as well. She ran 48 times between ages three and seven. Except for five races at Turfway, she stayed at Arlington, Hawthorne, and Sportsman’s. After she finished racing, Lady Leal retired. Between 1997 and 2006 she produced six named Illinois-bred foals. None were stakes horses, but they all started at least 17 times. Five of the six won. Though her produce was modest, they are living proof that she had a second career after racing.
Bigtime Mac was the last of Lady Leal’s foals to hit the track.
Bigtime Mac almost lost the chance his dam had, the chance for a long life after racing.
Bigtime Mac was found in a kill pen in Minnesota this week.
Whatever happened in the nine months between his last start and this week, he landed in the wrong hands. He landed in hands callous enough not to comprehend that after spending so much of his life running for people’s pleasure, people owed him better than sending him to be unceremoniously slaughtered.
Fortunately, this week is not the end of the road for Bigtime Mac.
Kristen Miller paid his bail to get him out of the kill pen, and is arranging for him to come back to Illinois. She has started a GoFundMe to raise money for the expenses of making sure Bigtime Mac can come back here and be taken care of. I have donated, as have a host of racing people and horse lovers. Please consider helping, particularly if you are involved with Illinois racing in any way.
Bigtime Mac was bred here, and was there on the track for the fans, friends, and followers of Chicago horse racing over sixty times.
Now, it’s time to be there for Bigtime Mac, and make sure he has a long and happy retirement.