12/29/2009 12:00AM

Two saved from slaughterhouse


Two Thoroughbred racehorses were rescued on Christmas Day from a farm that was believed to be operating as an illegal slaughterhouse in Dade County, Fla., including a 4-year-old maiden gelding named Dance Hall Graeme who later died.

Karla Wolfson and Laurie Goedecke, both of whom work on the backstretch at Calder, said they found the two horses after Goedecke recognized a picture of Dance Hall Graeme in a local newspaper. Goedecke had galloped the horse for trainer Bobby Hale, and she solicited Wolfson's help in rescuing the animals.

They were moved to a farm about 10 miles north of Calder in Sunshine Ranches owned by Wolfson and her husband, the trainer Marty Wolfson. Dance Hall Graeme, unplaced in 15 career starts, all at Calder, had to be euthanized at the farm. The second horse, an unidentified filly, is recovering at the farm.

"The filly is doing as well as expected," said Karla Wolfson, who works as an assistant to her husband. "Hopefully someone will respond to this story and adopt her."

Michelle Blanco, a spokesperson for Calder, said the track has launched an investigation to try and determine the ownership of the horses and how they arrived at the farm. According the Equibase, Dance Hall Graeme last started on Nov. 1 and was owned by Kay Hale.

"We are investigating to learn if any of our policies have been violated or if the law has been broken," said Blanco. "We do not condone or tolerate the mistreatment of any horses and expect to get cooperation from all levels in this investigation."

Kent Stirling, executive director for the Florida Division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said his organization and Calder management have been supportive of horse rescue organizations. He noted that the HBPA takes out .33 of a percent from the purse money earned by the top three finishers in each race, and that the horsemen have contributed more than $87,000 to horse rescue organizations.

"Unfortunately, these two horses slipped through the cracks, and now we here are all getting a bad rap as a result of the situation," he said.