Sunday, February 9, 2014

Not Your Average $5,000 Claim

A horse was claimed at Flamboro this evening out of a $5,000 claimer. It's not often that would be news, but this claim was different. It spawned what I saw were hundreds of tweets, facebook and chat board posts, (and gosh knows how many texts).

Sydney meeting her horse on Xmas Day
The horse in question was Sydney Seelster, a six year old mare that was purchased last year as a Christmas present for 13 year old Sydney Weaver. Sydney, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, has been described by some as harness racing's number one fan. She achieved her grooms licence, and wants to be a horse trainer when she grows up.  She was surprised last Christmas by a friend of the family (one of the good guys in this sport, who has been around forever) with her namesake horse.

This story - obviously a heartwarming one - was captured both inside and outside racing's media and made headlines. WEG's video recap of the story, which was broadcast nationwide, won a Hervey Award last year, and is well worth the watch. Seeing Sydney call her horse "my sister" as she fawns on her in that video is pretty heartbreaking, knowing she is not going home with her this evening.

Sydney Seelster, who as you can see in the video is a kind and lovely mare, was not a world beater, winning $16,000 last season, which as you all know does not cover the bills. This season, as sometimes mares do, she caught a bit of fire and had already made $6,000. That probably enticed the claim.

It looked like she was entered for $5,000 this evening - where she came 4th by 10 - to possibly get her a start off a vet scratch. She was entered for a higher $7,500 tag in her next planned outing for Sydney.

Greg Gangle, who works for Woodbine and has a picture of Sydney as his avatar on twitter, was none too impressed.

According to driver Bob McClure, Sydney was in tears after the race.  Hopefully if they can claim her back it will be a nice reunion.

As for the fellow who claimed the horse from her, well, let's just say he is not very popular around the Ontario harness racing community this evening.

Update: A quick update in today's post, as well as a few of your reactions.


Robert Coole said...

I was there tonight with the Weavers and it was a very long and tough trip home. It brought tears to my eyes listening to her sob because she lost her best friend and 'sister". It hurt immensely.

JenM said...

we have to be careful here, so many times I have seen these types of instances where people have their horses claimed - the horse was a homebred and say he's an old horse, or, it's a 1 horse stable that has made a ton of money with him and he's in for $50,000 can go on and on. I hate to see horses claimed away from ay kind of loving owner but they are in claiming races. The next person should be allowed to crucify another if their horse gets claimed? Slippery slope.

That Blog Guy said...

I would never claim a horse with a story like this but being the horse was hot, does the 'story' allow the trainer to keep the horse in the same class with impunity?

That being said, here is hoping the two Sydneys are reunited.

Pull the Pocket said...


That is kind of irrelevant for a couple of reasons. First, the horse was moved up to $7500 (cross entered) in her next start, so they were moving her up. Second, with a story like this, the case usually is some communication. i.e. a potential claimant saying to the current owners: "I have owners who want to claim that horse so you better think about moving her up" And then they would.

Although people think not sometimes, harness racing is a pretty tightly knit community that takes care of itself. There is an unwritten rule regarding the way things are done in some instances. As you can see from the massive explosion on FB, SM and everywhere else, this has banded them together.

FYI: Rumored that the claimant did not know the story, and that he is getting in touch with Sydney's family to give the horse back. I'll let everyone know how true or not true that is.


Anonymous said...

The man who claimed the horse should not be attacked in any way. What sort of twit enters a horse in claimers without knowing full well that the horse might not come back to the barn?

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