Top racehorse narrowly escapes death

September 4, 2008


Lights on Broadway kicks back at his new home.


Lights on Broadway at his new home with Donna Keen.

Former top US galloper Lights on Broadway has made a lucky escape from an extremely short retirement that had him on a truck heading for the meatworks at the end of his racing career.

The winner of more than $US500,000 in race earnings and 2001 Texas Horse of the Year, Lights on Broadway was purchased off a truck earlier this year at the age of 11, destined for a Canadian slaughterhouse.

After achieving star status in his native Texas, Lights on Broadway gradually slipped down the claiming ranks as he aged. Oklahoma-based Quarter Horse trainer Gregg Sanders purchased Lights on Broadway off the slaughter truck this spring after the driver showed him the gelding's Jockey Club papers and impressive race record. Sanders, stunned to see the familiar name and Lights' long history of success, asked the driver to pull Lights off the trailer.

'Lights' was thin and lame. Sanders immediately purchased him and brought him to a deeply bedded stall at his own 30-horse racing stable. Lights on Broadway, who Sanders calls "one of the kindest and gentlest horses I have ever seen," spent most of the next three days stretching out in the comfort of that stall.

The trainer began a feeding regimen to bring Lights' weight back up and had his veterinarian and farrier deal with the injury causing Lights' lameness, now completely healed.

He had a few race starts but failed to fire. The effort then began by supporters to find Lights a good home for his retirement. On the case was anti-slaughter advocate Alex Brown, who continually tracks high-earning horses running for low claiming prices. Brown and a large group of the gelding's fans began working to find the horse a new home for his retirement.


Lights on Broadway during his race career.
These included Texas fans who spread word throughout the state's racing industry; the Fans of Barbaro, a horse welfare group that provided both financial and logistical support, and an anonymous Texas OTTB (off-the-track Thoroughbred) owner who made a generous donation.

Both Lights on Broadway's breeder and the retirement group LOPE Texas offered Lights a home, but when trainer Dallas Keen and his wife Donna made a generous donation of funds and a commitment to work with Lights in his new life, he went back to Texas to live there.

Lights will have plenty of time to rest, and he will then learn a new job. He also will be an ambassador teaching people about the virtually unlimited potential of the off-the-track Thoroughbred, the realities of horse slaughter, and the need for the racing industry to develop good alternatives for re-homing former racehorses.