Sun City: 137 Races…and Counting

11 (soon to be 12)-year-old Sun City has been put to the whip 137 times. The 137th came this past Monday in a $2500 claiming race (all but 7 of her races have been claiming) at Portland Meadows; she finished last.

And so the question becomes, when? As in when will this old – by racing standards, that is – soul break?

Current trainer/owner: Debbie Van Horne.

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  1. Her soul has already been broken…… a long time ago. Next to break is her body!

  2. This mare will turn TWELVE (12) YEARS of age in May 2016. She has had 131 of her race starts at Emerald Downs and Turf Paradise since April 2007, so she has more or less been a “FIXTURE” at these two tracks. She has placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in more than one-half of her starts. She is high risk given the mileage she’s clocked up for nearly NINE (9) YEARS and I’m surprised she’s lasted this long and she’s very lucky to have escaped serious injury over this very long period of time of high speed exercise and this is rare (in my experience).
    It looks as though she’s done a bit of travelling as well between Arizona (Turf Paradise) and Washington (Emerald Downs) for most of her career. ALL of her starts have been in the sinister Claiming races with the exception of 7.
    This mare has had the same trainer for most of her career, Joe Toye, who would know her very well and no doubt was attached to her. Last 6 starts have been at Portland Meadows (Oregon) and she has changed hands very recently and I fear her breaking down. Her owner/trainer is Debbie Van Horne. SUN CITY came home last by 15 lens and travelled last most of the way in her most recent start on Jan 25. Money earned for this last start was NIL! This mare is wrung out and become old way before her time purely because of the unacceptable stress placed on her body and mind. I have no doubt that she is suffering from osteoarthritis.

    Racing career 137: 24-35-20 for $203,977 (average $1,500 per start).

    Perhaps her BREEDER and former OWNER (who by the way has owned her since the day she was foaled until just a few starts ago) TERRA FIRMA FARM could come to the fore. They could claim her back and put her in one of their paddocks to finally live the life of an equine which she so richly deserves for the money she earned for them….. or is that too big an ask?

  3. This is ridiculous!!!! I was under the impression there was a limit to how long a horse could race when they reach a certain age.Im sick of these so called horse people getting away with running them into the ground! Anyone who thinks racing a broken horse for a few measly bucks should go to jail.And The Government needs to get involved because obviously these bogus trainers& owners don’t give a crap.The owner of American Pharoah says they want to bring people back into racing, Bullshit!!! His horse did well, whoopee!, they never mention the horses who die everyday because they race every other day, or the claimers, who happen to be the backbone of racing, they give their lives for it.This is never mentioned, if it wasn’t for the claimers, horseracing couldnt survive! Thats never mentioned though, Im so sick of these big money horse peopleThey profess how they love the horses, yeah ok! Its the money nothing more.They should be ashamed.Notice how only the well known horses get retired to life of riley while the rest either go to slaughter or thrown away like garbage.Its Pathetic!!!! It disgusts me that all these parasites lie&make out lije the horses get good homes.They don’t, we need to get vocal, loud&make the people listen.And put it out there that these horse people care about nothing but money!

  4. Breaking my heart here. These warhorses deserve so much better than they get. Carolyn, is she at Emerald now or Turf?

    Is someone out there who can champion this mare’s cause?

    BTW…Face the Fire is doing really well, although being on stall rest has been difficult. Our sacrifice area went from boot-sucking mud to frozen nightmare and I’m reluctant to let him navigate the rough surface. If Sun City’s anything like FTF or Jitterbug Jane, she must have a GREAT personality in addition to a great constitution.

    Any West Coast advocates available??

  5. Glad that Face the Fire is doing well. To bad about the stall rest but better safe than sorry. I thought his race record of 109 races was appalling but Sun City’s is even worse with 137 races. So true, that we can’t save them all. It does amaze me that she has survived as long as she has and Face the Fire surviving as long as he did in the racing world.

  6. Ah sun city 11 year old mare 137 starts record 24-35-20 born May 6, 2004 started racing April 14, 2007…..this horse has more starts then the past 11 horses that have won the kentucky Darby leading back to 2005 n tthese are million dollar top notch suppose to be the best of the best I ask a question how many of them horses are dead or have been hurt while racing most of them even the supposed. Great american pharoah sustained injury in his what 9 starts how amazing is it that she sun city has prevailed over half of her life bein that she is 11 and horses to my knowledge live 25-30 years what is more spectacular is the the longest break she has had since 2007 is roughly 2 months her normal break as they call it is 3 weeks to a month does neone know of another horse with more starts I have looked. And cannot find one with more (i could very well be wrong) but it brings me to my point of when is enough enough she has givin over half her life to you joe toye her former owner n breeder every single day working training for you to obtain the 203,977 dollars she has made I do not know you Mr toye or wish to insult you in ne manner I just simply ask that you go get your horse I read a quote from you it stated we bread her we raised her we own her when she was claimed from you you claimed her back because she was your horse so I ask why now why after everything your horse has done for you you give her away let her be bought claimed whatever. By debbie van horne I ask of you Mr toye go get your horse retire her to the pasture she deserves let her be free enjoy life wake up everyday just like you to be free why not hasn’t she earned that right what more could you possibly want let her live comfortable provide for her like she did for you with that damn near quarter million dollars she has lived half her life as a racehorse has givin every ounce of what she has let her live her life as a normal horse let her experience that you owe it to her show that you care (ps) on a side note I would like to ask if this messege be sent to Joe toye at toye throughbreds on Facebook as I am not able to that would be greatly appreciated

  7. My heart breaks for this mare. Please stay strong and sound, sweetie. I hope help will come for her soon.

  8. The footnotes say “good courage” and “willingly” while she runs for her life with a $2,500 price tag. The business of racing will do NOTHING to protect this mare. The standard answer is that decisions are made by the trainer/owner and not the track !

    Have a heart and retire this old track warrior. Please do not run her into the ground.

  9. So finally after several phone calls one voice mail and a text messege I finally was able to come in contact with ms van horne. Was a very nice lady to me.finally my prayers have been answered sun city is fully retired will never see the track again she is currently in from what I gather joe toye let van horne take sun city to Portland meadows to race her n let her be bred on a foal partnership deal sun city is still owned by joe toye I’m not sure how this works I’m not fully happy I do not want sun city to become a broodmare and will do my damnest to see that doesn’t happen. Just glad to know that sun city will not die on the track is not at the track in a stall won’t be whipped and will never race again enjoy your new life and freedom of being a horse I hope.

    • Good to hear that she’s finally retired from racing. However, in my view, the inexcusable abuse of her continues now that they’re using her as a thoroughbred baby factory. The life of a TB racing broodmare means that they’re constantly being served (raped) each season and often pregnant with a foal at foot and when they’re no longer fertile or not producing successful progeny or get too old they are heartlessly and callously discarded and usually end up at slaughter.

      Thanks for caring, Billy Yiengst, the world needs more people like you!

  10. My view is no different then yours Carolyn. I have never tried to reach mr toye because I thought sun city was sold to ms van horne know that I know that is not the case I will be contacting him to see when he plans on getting her back and what he plans on doing with her. A broodmare is unacceptable in my mind as her future I will do everything in my power. To make sure that doesn’t happen farmlife sun and grass need to be her future she deserves and has earned that place hell prolly paid for some of it too

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