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Cusack's past slowly emerges

May 15, 2011

by Neil Clarkson

Cusack's new owner, Deb Johnson, was a ski coach, but is rapidly developing her detective skills as she probes the past of the 11-year-old Kiwi thoroughbred.

Cusack during his race career in New Zealand.
© Jeni Bassett/Equine Attitude
Inquiries reveal that Cusack had a racing career in Canada and appears to have undergone surgery on a hind leg at the end of his race career.

Cusack was rescued from a Washington state kill pen 10 days ago, with Horsetalk readers raising the funds to pay the $US500 price on his head, as well as the cost of transporting him half way across the US to Deb's home in Kansas.

The gelding is currently being boarded at the Back Forte Equestrian Center, while he awaits his trip east.

His fund comfortably topped the target, but there are also boarding fees to be paid, with any leftover funds going to his care, including a vet check required to cross state borders.

"If I were an investigative reporter, I'd spontaneously combust," Deb confesses of her telephone efforts to learn more about Cusack's past.

"I'm driven, all-consumed by this, and I don't know why."

Deb said she spoke with Roger Stein, of California, who was a middle man in the deal that saw Cusack exported from New Zealand to the US to race in 2005.

Cusack, he recalled, held his weight, and was a good, sound racehorse, although not really stakes material in his view.

Records showed he raced three times at Del Mar, twice at Santa Anita and once at Golden Gate before it appears he was sold to interests in Canada.

The remainder of his career played out in Canada, at Hastings racecourse in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Records show he raced 10 times there, the last time being on September 15, 2007.

Deb said she talked to someone at the track who remembered Cusack. He won his last race, then got injured, he recalled.

Cuscak having some R&R at the Back Forte before heading to Kansas.
The vet who happened to be there recalled surgery to put a screw in one of his back fetlocks.

The trail from that point dries up, including how be came to cross back into the US.

Deb says she is keen to learn more about the injury and the surgery.

"Knowing about his injury will help me with determining his supplements. Knowing helps with preventative care."

Deb said the man she talked to felt Cusack, by that stage in any event, did not have a passion for racing.

She says she has since watched all his race videos online and came to a similar conclusion. "No heart in what he was doing ... he's an easygoing guy."

A friend will be paying closer attention to Cusack's hind legs tomorrow to see if there are any soundness issues. The vet said they should be able to spot where the screw went in.

"We may never know everything that happened to Cusack," Deb says.

"I think what matters is the end of the story. Of course, this isn't the end for him, just the end of this journey. His life is just beginning, and I think it's the one he wanted all along."



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