Golden Tent made his 118th -- and final -- start at Philadelphia Park in the fourth race Monday, and now heads into retirement at the Manorville, N.Y. farm of the New York Horse Rescue, having earned better than $730,000.
The 13-year-old gelding was claimed for $4,000 out of the event, in which he finished third, by trainer Gary Contessa and owner Maryann Roberts, and most of the money for his purchase was raised by concerned fans who put the word out on the Internet.
"I never trained Golden Tent, but I have worked with and contributed to the New York Horse Rescue, and when they sent me an e-mail saying they needed my help, I thought it was the least I could do," said Contessa, who did not make the trip to Philadelphia but had another trainer, Ron Taylor, drop the slip.
The gelding will be sent on Wednesday from Philadelphia to Contessa's New York barn, a van ride which is being donated by Frank Decker's Cloud Nine company. From there, he'll spend the rest of his days in Monroeville.
Chris Landicini, who was the trainer of record for Golden Tent in today's race, said he felt the entire event was "making me seem like I was running a broke-down horse."
"There really isn't anything wrong with Golden Tent, except he's run out of conditions in New York," he said. Then he added: "There are a lot of older horses who run here (at Philadelphia) - Blum Gone (age 12), Dildei (age 11) -- with a lot of starts that people aren't lining up to retire," he said.
The New York Horse Rescue is a retirement foundation headed by Mona Kanciper, who said that Contessa donated $1,000 of his own money for Golden Tent, and NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz and trainer Mike Hushion put up $900. The rest, she said, was raised in one day by people who'd seen the drama unfold on the Internet, specifically the NYRA website, the Final Turn site and Letitride site.
"I had calls from as far away as Iowa," she said. "I'm hoping that this makes people aware of the situation facing older racehorses."