By Randi Somers
A couple creating a rescue center on their property out East End Road for retired racehorses and greyhounds, has a connection with Texan Rick Bristow, who produces nutritious candy that is popular with all animals — including humans. He regularly sends them boxes of the creamy peppermints, called Ray’s Magic Mints. They are named after the couple’s first rescued, retired race horse, Ray’s Storm,
Maureen McKenzie, Ph.D. and Jeff Taggart are currently caring for Ray’s Storm, as well as two retired racing greyhounds named DC’s Domino and Atascocita Villa.
The income from the sale of mints goes to support the numerous adoption programs for both retired race horses and greyhounds. These healthy candies are made from an original recipe using organic and wild-crafted cane sugar, coconut oil, beet crystals for color, peppermint oil, and AuroraGreen, made by McKenzie’s company, Denali BioTechnologies, from Alaska dandelions, she explained.
Ray’s Storm is grandson of the famous sire, Storm Cat; a horse with a huge influence on thoroughbreds (like Ray.) In his prime, Storm Cat regularly pulled in $500,000 per foal in stud fees. Peppermints were Storm Cat’s favorite treat, McKenzie said. Another grandsire farther back in Ray’s pedigree, Northern Dancer, commanded $1,000,000 per foal. Secretariat is just one of several famous race horses sired by Ray.
“I didn’t know any of that when I fell in love with him at first sight in March, 2013,” Maureen said. “I had gone to Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, Calif., after a long week at the biggest trade show in the dietary supplements/natural foods industry.”
McKenzie had been invited to give a lecture, and Jeff suggested they go to the track, have dinner, a glass of wine and bet a couple of dollars “on the ponies.”
“He knew I had owned a retired racer as a teenager that was a life-lesson from my father,” Maureen said. “My horse, Eastern Charge (affectionately called Sarge, like my WWII veteran father), was a broken-down racehorse without a single win. But he wound up winning many firsts and championships for me on the Midwestern show circuit in the mid-1970s.”
McKenzie said Ray looked just like Sarge, and she told Jeff she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“I looked on the racing form to see his name, and to make it more interesting, he got bumped in the home stretch but pulled himself together and poured on the power to win,” she said. “After the race, I went to the ladies’ room and cried my eyes out after I heard my late father speak to me, saying, ‘Maureen, darling, buy that horse, buy that horse.’”
She went to the track office to inquire about acquiring him. but says she mostly made a fool of herself. Fortunately, a kind, licensed trainer heard her talking and helped her place the claim on him three months later – from Fred Meyer’s in Soldotna.
“I am sure I will adopt more horses and dogs,” McKenzie said.
Ray started out at Santa Anita Park, the most famous of West Coast horse tracks. Shortly after he completed two races as a two-year-old, he suffered an overreach injury (cutting his own back leg with his front hoof) during a bad break from the starting gate.
After that, he was not run for three years, likely undergoing extensive rehabilitation. While Ray was able to start running again, he could no longer compete at his original class of a $30,000 claiming price. He dropped as low as $2,500 in claiming price and could only run shorter races at Los Alamitos Race Course. But, with a few wins under his belt, his claiming price rose back up to $3,300.
That’s when McKenzie took him off the track.
She explained that many well-bred, beautiful retired thoroughbreds are up for adoption/purchase at $2,500 or less. These are the lucky ones, and she encourages others to think about adopting animals who otherwise get butchered for meat. She strongly encourages animal lovers with room in their yards and hearts to consider adopting these animals.
As for the greyhounds, they also ran and won following a bloodline of well-known sires and racing kennels. McKenzie’s mother her she needed a greyhound at least once in her life, because they will, “change you.”
McKenzie said she acquired them from a rescue organization in Washington State, called Greyhound Pets, Inc.
More information about animal adoption is available on the organization’s website at: www.greyhoundpetsinc.org/DogoftheMonth.html.
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