“Trainer of the Year” runs horse to death (US)

The Story of “Melody” Heavenly Perfect

To the Thoroughbred racing industry Melody was a number. Her tattoo number was G24671. She was a descendant of War Admiral. Her racing name was Heavenly Perfect.

To the people who rescued her, Melody was a beautiful, loving mare who lured you into her stall with her low loving knickers. Once inside, Melody would wrap her head around you and give you a big horsey hug.

To other horses Melody was a kind mare who was the peacekeeper of her small herd. She got along with everyone and made sure no one was picked on.

Melody was foaled in 2003 and given the name Heavenly Perfect. She was bred by Magali Ventures LLC, and sold at Barretts Equine Limited October 2004 Sale of Preferred Yearlings for $33,000. Heavenly Perfect had what they wanted, a potential earner with the courageous heart of a racehorse.

Life does not always end as it begins for horses bred for the Thoroughbred industry. For too many of these racehorses, there can be a twist of fate that changes their lives, and not for the better.

Heavenly Perfect — Melody — was rescued from a trip to the slaughter house on May 23, 2008. She had run her last race, a claiming race, just 10 days prior. She did not win, place or show. The only comment on her chart about her was “a steady fade.” She was not bought; she was not claimed.

Losing that race meant she was sent to a cold, dark kill auction in Sugarcreek, Ohio. The race Heavenly Perfect found herself in now was between slaughterhouse killer buyers and the horse rescuers attending the auction to outbid these meat men to save her life. It was one race that the mare was in that she won. Through the combined efforts of Victoria McCullough, founder of the Triumph Project, through the Davis-McCullough Foundation, together with Pure Thoughts horse rescue, Heavenly Perfect was safe.

Sometimes in horse rescue, the most you can do is give horses a final chapter filled with love and kindness, and a dignified ending.

Shortly after Melody was taken to her new home and settling in, Melody developed colic. On June 7th, she was taken to the hospital, and courageously fought to survive. However, what was discovered while she was at the hospital was disgraceful.

Melody not only had laminitis, but also numerous bone fractures. X-rays showed that rotation began five months earlier, and her coffin bones were nearly coming through the soles of both her front feet. Melody also had 3 chips in her knees, and at least two fractures, one in her second carpel bone and one in her radial carpel bone. It was clear these injuries were not new. The absence of treatment meant Melody was highly arthritic, and in great pain. It was also clear that training and running her in this condition had caused her untold suffering. On the discovery of these injuries, it was decided putting Melody to sleep was the only humane option. Sadly, it may have been the only decision made with any degree of compassion for this sweet mare.

Who was responsible for Heavenly Perfect — Melody — who so heartlessly neglected her, then disposed of her at a known kill auction? Jerry Hollendorfer, her trainer and owner.

Jerry Hollendorfer developed his award winning reputation as a claiming trainer. In a career turning point, Hollendorfer turned $16,000 claimer Novel Sprite into a $467,586 multiple stakes winner and awarded the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association’s 1986 Claimer of the Year Award. Hollendorfer was also selected as California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Trainer of the Year in 1995. With more than 5,000 training victories, the racehorses in Hollendorfer’s control have earned more than $91 million.

According to Equineline Database, Hollendorfer and his partner, George Todaro, obtained Heavenly Perfect in a claiming race in October, 2006.

On that fateful day in May, 2008, Hollendorfer was the owner and trainer of record of Heavenly Perfect when he ran her at River Downs, Ohio, in her injured condition, in what turned out to be her final racetrack appearance.

Ten days later, on May 23, 2008, Hollendorfer sent Heavenly Perfect to the kill auction at Sugarcreek, Ohio.

On July 8th, Melody was euthanized and laid to rest. Victoria McCullough promised Melody she would soon be in greener pastures.
Melody would no longer endure pain.

The experience with Heavenly Perfect made McCullough more aware of the cruelties related to the horseracing industry:

“This brave mare touched the heart of many in her short time with us,” says McCullough. Attending veterinarian Dr. Robert Smith somberly states, “Melody was an exceptional horse, I am very sorry that a mare with such a heart had to be put down.”

McCullough adds, “For myself and the Davis-McCullough Foundation, we are learning every day that it is not enough to save the horses from needless slaughter. There is yet another abuse that rests in silence. It is unspeakable that any horse endure this painful road to a premature death thankfully given in dignity instead of at the hand of an inhumane and callous worker with a knife to sever her spine [in a slaughterhouse] as a reward for her gallant heart.”

Racehorses give their hearts and soul to their trainers and owners. If only 6 months ago, the people in charge of Heavenly Perfect´s wellbeing had given back to her what she gave to them, she would be alive today. A change needs to be made.

Friends of Equines (“FOES”), are calling for an offical inquiry into Hollendorfer’s running of Heavenly Perfect in the compromised condition she was in, and demand upon a “full and fair” hearing, Hollendorfer’s licence to race horses be permanently revoked for extreme cruelty to animals.

PLEASE NOTE: If you would like more information about this situation or Heavenly Perfect please contact Jennifer Swanson. Jennifer at PureThoughtsHorseRescue dot com or www.PTHR.org.


Click here to view, including Heavenly Perfect’s last appearance on a racetrack.

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