Farewell, Silver Ray: Winning racehorse fetched $30 at slaughter auction

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Silver Ray (1989 - 2019)
Silver Ray (23.5.89 – 1.1.19) © Rick Capone

Grade three race winning stallion Silver Ray, who was rescued from a slaughter sale in 2013, has died at the age of 30.

Silver Ray was euthanized on January 1 at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Kentucky. He had been suffering from chronic orthopedic disease.

On its blog, Old Friends said: “We will miss Silver Ray. No question about that. We’ll miss the peaceful sight of him grazing in his paddock. We’ll miss how excited he used to get about meal times, trotting over snorting, sometimes even bucking. We’ll especially miss his sweetness, how he’d amble over for companionship as much as a treat, how he’d let children pet him, his calm, wise face, and how he’d sometimes lay his head on visitors’ shoulders, especially young women visitors. Ray was a bit of a ladies’ man.

“For us, it’s hard that our good times with him have ended. But that’s our perspective. For Silver Ray, Old Friends was a long, happy ending. True to his name, he came through some dark times to a comfortable, dignified life. He let us know how much he enjoyed the security he’d found.”

Silver Ray
Silver Ray. © Rick Capone

Kentucky-bred Silver Ray (Silver Hawk x Danceland, by Little Current) won six of his 26 starts for owners Jerry and Ann Moss, who had bought him at auction for $80,000. His best win was as a two-year-old, when he won the Grade 3 Hoist the Flag Stakes at Hollywood Park. His career earnings totaled $268,532, but his last race was a $75,000 claimer.

As a stallion Silver Ray sired 47 foals in 13 lifetime crops with 11 winners. He was eventually sold to a dressage trainer and had some success as a sire of sport horses.

But in the summer of 2013 the stallion was discovered at a livestock auction in Mira Loma, California, by April Smith, who bought him for $30.

After uncovering his identity, Smith contacted Catherine Trope, founder of the Glendale, California-based Polo Pony Rescue, and Trope helped nurse the ailing ex-racer back to health.

Silver Ray at Old Friends.
Silver Ray at Old Friends. © Rick Capone

When the Glendale News-Press ran a feature about Silver Ray’s rescue and recovery, it came to the attention of former owners Jerry and Ann Moss, who are best known for campaigning the champion mare Zenyatta.

Longtime supporters of Old Friends, the Mosses worked with founder and President Michael Blowen to secure Silver Ray a spot at the Georgetown farm.

“It has been such an honor to have Silver Ray with us these years,” Blowen said. “He has been an unbelievable fan favorite. He had an incredibly gentle soul, he was wonderful with children, and he just loved getting treats and attention from all of our visitors.”

Tour guide Ken Hawes said of Silver Ray’s last tour on the day before he let the Old Friends team know his time had come: “He did eat shredded carrots on our tour yesterday and also received much petting from the children on the tour. He was a sweety and a gentleman to the end.”

Silver Ray.
Silver Ray. © Rick Capone

2 thoughts on “Farewell, Silver Ray: Winning racehorse fetched $30 at slaughter auction

  • January 6, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Rest In Peace beautiful boy. You had some wonderful years especially at Old Friends

  • June 28, 2019 at 4:01 am

    What a beautiful old head, a kind eye. I didn’t know this horse until I came across his name in a family search and clicked on the link. It’s a first for me to tear up at a dignified photo of an old racer, but I did immediately. Then read his story. He was so fortunate to be saved, and you who cared for him….what an unbelievable privledge. Thank you for posting his story.


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