After 103 Races, Fighting City Hall Is Finally Free

Last October, I posted this story about 11-year-old Fighting City Hall and his 97 “career” races. Although he would go under the whip six more times – yes, that makes 103, dating all the way back to the Bush administration – I do have some good news to report. Thanks to the wonderful efforts of renowned equine advocate (and regular contributor to our “Shedrow Secrets”) Joy Aten, City (below) is finally free.

That story, in Joy’s words:

Fighting City Hall. Patrick’s post about him on October 1, 2014 brought his plight to my attention. Although no horse deserves the life they’re forced to endure in the racing industry and all are worthy to be rescued from it, there is something additionally disturbing about horses like “City.”

In my very first phone call back in October, placed in an effort to acquire City, I was told he was with “good people.” I thought, that’s nice, but I wasn’t betting on it. And as it turned out, they are the typical “good folks” of racing – when it comes right down to it, it’s all about the money (another story and another racehorse will explain that at a later time).

City’s last owner of record knows nothing about horses. How can an owner advocate for their racehorses’ welfare when they are clueless about them? I was informed that City was not eligible to run as a 12-year-old at Portland Meadows, but he did indeed run two more times in 2015. I was also told that if I couldn’t get City moved by the end of April from where his owner had put him, he would be taken to Emerald Downs to continue racing. But City was so lame (in both fronts) from abscesses shortly after coming off the track the vet wouldn’t even allow him to travel until just recently. He couldn’t be vanned due to his condition, and the owner knew that I was aware…makes it a little tough to run a lame horse and still look like a “good guy.”

Around the time of City’s 100th start there was a “nice” little article about City’s owner and the tough, nearly-black gelding in some insignificant racing rag. In it, the owner stated there were multiple offers to retire City and give him a home. Funny how the offers I presented him with were the only two he was fixated on when we communicated.

Fighting City Hall, a 2003 dark bay Smart Strike gelding, Multiple Stakes Placed and winner of nearly 270K from 103 starts. City last raced on January 27 at Portland Meadows in a 2K claiming race where he was “hustled away from the gate” then “gave way,” finishing 4th and making $360 for his people. After countless phone calls and seven long months, he is safe at last…he arrived at Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky just this morning.

Enjoy your life, dear City. It is finally your own.

City about to load for his trip to KY!


  1. Gutted about this industrys lack of conscience. But a HUGE well done for saving this beautiful boy!

  2. Thank goodness he is alive to see his retirement God bless city you deserve it the good people at old friends will take care of you and yes they are REAL good people

  3. Thank you so much Joy Aten! So glad that you were able to acquire Fighting City Hall. God bless you and Fighting City Hall, and yes he is beautiful. His coat is shiny, he does look healthy otherwise.

  4. Thank you, Joy ! Fighting City Hall is lucky to have such an advocate. The “fight” to get these old warriors or those that can’t cope with racing any longer can be very frustrating and disheartening, You have my admiration and, of course, my thanks. He is beautiful and so alert looking.
    And my thanks to you, Patrick, for the story.

    PS I have not given up on the horse I mentioned before. He is at Gulfstream.

  5. My deepest gratitude to the tireless efforts of Patrick through HRW and Joy Aten’s tenacious decades of putting the rescue of all horses a priority, with a special soft spot for the abused racehorses, and then telling it like it is. Thank you!!

  6. Thank you, Patrick, for this little bright light. And thank you, Joy, for taking him under your wing. I was particularly glad to see this dear old warrior finally get the retirement ALL racehorses deserve. I think it was his name that drew my attention to him many years ago and I have marked his fall down the claiming ladder here on the West Coast. Portland Meadows… Last stop before the slaughterhouse. This photo of him illustrates so many qualities that define the word Thoroughbred. Qualities that too many of us exploit to ruin and death. His eye is bright, his proud head is held high, his coat is shiny. Yet severe lameness in both forelegs tells us that his caretakers were ignoring his precarious condition. But FCH kept trying, because that’s what Thoroughbreds do. It’s wicked to abuse the very qualities they are bred for and admired for. Our vicious system, dominated by claiming races, only exacerbates this evil.
    God bless you, City. You are in the hands of truly good people now. I look forward to visiting you.

  7. Joy,

    Thank you for fighting for this beautiful boy “Fighting City Hall”. Your love of TB’s, and your devotion to rescuing the broken is awe inspiring!! Thank God he will be putting his hoofs down in a safe, caring place like Old Friends. He can finally live our his days in peace, and how I wish they would all be so fortunate. Another job well done Joy!! God bless you Joy, you are a one in a million!!!

    Marlene Thornley

  8. I follow a mare from Portland meadows n emerald downs joy maybe you could help me n her……her name is sun city she is a 12 year old mare 136 starts 24 wins 35 seconds 20 thirds for an earning record of 203,977 from what I can see from equibase she has been racing basiclly ever 3 weeks since she was 3 I’m a pa boy live very close to penn national know very little of horses or horse rracing would just love to see this old girl off the track n out to a field to just be a horse for once in her life I mean hasn’t she gave enough of herself over 8 or 9 years of racing to earn that needless to say the quarter million she earned her present trainer is debbie van horne has only had her for a few races the other trainer was joe toye bread by Tierra firma farms I pray this messege gets to someone that is a horse person n can go save her she races in the 2500 claiming rank I do not have the means for a horse I hope someone sees this n does sun city desrves it wish u the best girl

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