Former Derby Contender Finds a Home

Edited press release

Four years after being considered a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contender, Tracemark, a 7-year-old gelding, is embarking on a life of retirement on a California farm.

Not much newsworthy about that, even during Kentucky Derby season. But consider this. Tracemark is a one-time high level race horse who turned into an unwanted Thoroughbred who ultimately was taken in and given a second chance by organizations dedicated to caring for animals like him.

Tracemark first gained national attention when he won the 2002 California Derby for trainer Craig Dollase, and owner Ed McGrath, whose son Mark is lead singer for the band Sugar Ray, and co-host of the syndicated TV show "Extra." But the son of 1982 Horse of the Year and Belmont Stakes winner Conquistador Cielo missed starting in the Kentucky Derby because he came up short in graded stakes' earnings. He went on to have a successful sophomore season and earn over $500,000 during his racing career, which, unfortunately, turned sour after McGrath sold him to someone who assured him the horse would be treated well. Instead, despite serious injuries, Tracemark continued to race, making 57 career starts, finally hitting rock bottom by running in $3,000 claiming events.

Just when Tracemark's life seemed headed to oblivion or worse, his plight was brought to the attention of the ReRun Organization, which with the help of Sallee Vans, sent him to the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington. There he was successfully operated on by Dr. Alan Ruggles and nursed back to health by Glenda Meadows. Last month, courtesy of Tex Sutton Equine Transportation, Tracemark was flown to his new home at the California Equine Retirement Foundation's (CERF) ranch in Winchester, where he will live the rest of his life.

"We want to spread the word about Tracemark as a means of raising awareness of the plight of unwanted horses," said Ed McGrath. "There are many former race horses in need of proper care and organizations like ReRun, CERF, and Kentucky Equine Humane Center are providing it. If ReRun hadn't stepped in to rescue Tracemark, I shudder to think where he'd be now."

To achieve his goal of raising awareness for those who assist unwanted horses, Ed McGrath has enlisted the help of son Mark. First, Sugar Ray will perform Sunday at Hollywood Park at 5:30 p.m. following the race card, and CERF will have a booth in the paddock where it will sell "Moneighs" (original paintings created by Tracemark and other famous Thoroughbred race horses) and accept donations. Also, "Extra" has taped a feature on Tracemark and the McGrath family that will air in May.

"We are delighted to be helping such a great cause," said Mike Ziegler, vice president of Hollywood Park. "CERF does so much to help horses and we hope race fans will be generous in their support."