Praetereo proved to be fast during his racing career, winning 11 of his 82 starts – including a stakes race – and finishing on the board 29 other times. But the speed at which Sharon Potter adopted him from ReRun may have been even faster than any of his races.
Potter already had an off-track Thoroughbred from ReRun named Kettle’s On, but wanted a gray to join the son of Giant’s Causeway. While visiting ReRun’s website, she found the perfect horse in warhorse (a horse who has made 50 or more starts) Praetereo.
“I’d been really wanting a gray as well, which Lisa [Molloy] at ReRun knew, and I follow ReRun on Facebook,” she said. “By chance, I just happened to be goofing off on Facebook on my lunch break and Lisa had just posted this tall, elegant gray gelding … and then I saw he was also a son of Giant’s Causeway, and I just knew he was meant to be mine. I contacted Lisa in about three seconds, asked for a short jog video … and a few minutes later, he was mine! Fastest adoption ever.”
Potter made it a point to watch the warhorse’s replays and learn as much about him as possible. She even contacted his former connections to find out if he had a barn name she could call him.
“They all said, no, he has always been Praetereo, because he is dignified and the name fits,” she said. “So the next thing I had to do was learn how to actually pronounce it correctly! Pray-tear-ray-oh. That is quite a mouthful, and although I really love the meaning (it is Latin for ‘pass, go by, surpass, excel’) it has sort of morphed into Ray, or RayRay.”
But perhaps the thing that impressed her the most about the gelding’s connections was how much everyone loved him. In fact, it was some of his previous connections had made sure Praetereo had a soft place to land in retirement.
“Everyone I’ve talked to that knew him at the track loved him, from exercise riders to veterinarians to his jockeys and trainers,” she said. “And the best thing is that he retired after all those years completely clean legged and sound. One cool fact that showed me just how much his past connections thought of him: By age 10, he was running in the lower-end claiming races, and one of his former trainers paid the claim just to retire him, and then immediately donated him to ReRun for rehoming.”
Praetereo was retired in late June of 2018, with Potter getting him home in September. She plans on restarting him in dressage in the spring, but first is giving him some time to adjust from life on the track. After racing for nine years, that has proved to be a big challenge for the gelding.
“When he arrived here, in the middle of the prairie grasslands of central Wisconsin which is almost the middle of nowhere, it was such a huge change, with no real structure to his days,” Potter said of the gelding’s first days with her. “He was quite nervous and worried for the first week, and then gradually eased into his new life, in a big field with a loafing shed. Now he loves it … but it wasn’t the easiest transition after all those years of being at the track. This was completely opposite of my other OTTB, who took to pasture life like he’d been doing it forever.”
But while Praetereo has settled into his new life well, he still likes to stay busy. Unfortunately for Potter, that includes figuring out how to undo the straps on his blankets and turning everything into a toy.
“He has the most nimble equine lips I’ve ever seen,” she said. “My winter blankets have a fairly complicated array of buckles, straps and keeper loops and snaps. Ray can use those lips and unbuckle the fronts of everybody else’s blanket. That’s something I can’t do unless I take my gloves off. Nothing loose is safe around Ray. He loves to play with toys, lead shanks, my gloves, my jacket, my hat … anything he can get his mouth on.”
Praetereo’s warhorse ways have taught Potter many things, even though she hasn’t had him for very long. She says his time on the track taught him to hold her to high standards – more so than she’s seen with horses who only raced a few times – and he also taught her how important it is to give a horse coming off the track a routine when easing them into their new career.
For her, Praetereo also disproves an OTTB stereotype she hears often.
“I really dislike hearing people say that all OTTBs are going to be broken down and are useless after racing,” she said. “Especially when a horse has had an injury and been rehabbed and is vetted sound. People tend to hold that against a horse just because it’s an off the track horse. Sure, there are injuries, like with any other horse, but it’s important to remember that OTTBs also can heal and be very useful horses, just like any other breed. It is amazing that a warhorse can race for eight years and 82 starts, earn almost three-quarters of a million dollars and be completely sound, with clean legs. That bodes well for future careers.”
To learn more about the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance-accredited ReRun, the organization that helped Potter find her horses, visit www.rerunottb.com.