04/22/2012 3:29PM

Aqueduct: Filly rescued from abuse makes it to track, only to scratch at gate


 OZONE PARK, N.Y. - They came from as far west as Illinois and from as far south as Florida. Some lived only a half-hour’s drive from Aqueduct.

Despite a rainstorm that was picking up in intensity, approximately 45 enthusiastic partners in Five R Racehorse Stables filled the Aqueduct paddock for the second race Sunday afternoon. Armed with still and video cameras, many chronicled the continuing story of Notinrwildestdremz, a 4-year-old filly who was attempting to make it from harrowing beginnings to the races.

Unfortunately, the starting gate would be as far as Notinrwildestdremz would get on this dreary day. As the horses were being loaded for the maiden special weight race for New York-breds, Notinrwildestdremz lowered her head and flipped in the gate, unseating jockey Jose Ortiz. Coincidentally, Ortiz was subbing for Samuel Camacho Jr., who was unseated during the running of Saturday’s second race and was off due to concussion-like symptoms.

Notinrwildestdremz sat down in the gate and ultimately did get up, but she - along with Grunge Girl who was kicked by Notinrwildestdremz - was ordered scratched by the track veterinarian. Many of the nearly  four dozen owners who had moved to the third floor of the grandstand stood in stunned silence.

Both horses were later reported to be okay, and will probably be able to run again sometime during the Belmont Park meeting.

“You know what, I don’t feel disheartened at all,” said Sean Kerr, the managing partner of Five R, which stands for rescue, rehabilitation, racing, retraining, and retirement. “If this is the worst that can happen I’ll take this any day. This is nothing, this is horse racing. Everybody here understands that.”

Given where Notinrwildestdremz came from, flipping in the gate and being scratched from her debut isn’t a big deal.

Notinrwildestdremz was one 177 horses discovered to have been in neglected and malnourished on a farm in upstate New York owned by Ernie Paragallo, a one-time leading owner on the New York Racing Association circuit.

Kerr, from Brooklyn, along with his wife Angelika, took three of the horses, but Notinrwildestdremz was the only one to make it to the track. She is so small that when she was in the walking ring with the other horses, one 5R partner commented “she looks tiny compared to the rest of them.”

Dee Cottingham, who helped teach Notinrwildestdremz to become a racehorse on her farm in Maryland before she ultimately wound up with Billy Turner, drove up for the race. She talked about a filly who makes up for her diminutive size with a demonstrative desire.

“She just had that feistiness and attitude that you want to see in a race horse -  except for her size,” Cottingham said. “She was just teeny, teeny-tiny, but she wanted to do it and she felt that she could.”

As he watched his filly warm up on the track prior to heading to the gate, Kerr felt that this was not the end to the story.

 “I feel it’s not anticlimactic,” Kerr said. “Yeah, she’s here, she did it, she earned her way to this. We’re not doing this just to put a horse in to say we could put a horse in. She’s shown every step of the way this is what she wants to do.”

 Dave Cabano, who lives in Greenwich, Conn., was one of the first people to get involved with Kerr’s operation. While disappointed Notinrwildestdremz was scratched, he looks forward to seeing her get another opportunity.

 “I’m glad they sided with caution, she seems to have gotten out of it all right,” Cabano said. “It’s like a roller-coaster. We live to run another day, hopefully. My dream is to see her up in Saratoga.”