Equine rescue organization big winner in USHDC event at Oak Grove

Oak Grove, KY — While harness racing’s Ayr Pioneer GB and Paperback Thriller took top honors in the United States Harness Driving Club’s events on Monday (May 13) at Oak Grove Racing and Gaming, the biggest winner of the day was a heroic equine rescue organization.

Volunteer Equine Advocates (VEA) was the special honoree of the day, receiving a $1,000 donation from the USHDC for their continuing heroic work of saving and rehabilitating horses. VEA, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization now in its 21st year of heroics, is dependent on volunteers and donations — 100 percent of which is earmarked for their outstanding work.

Members of the USHDC joined a throng of guests as the club made a donation to the Volunteer Equine Advocates. Mark Herron photo.

In commenting about this donation, USHDC president Dein Spriggs said, “Heroics is the proper description of the VEA as they play such a huge role in so many areas, including the rescue and care for seized, abandoned, abused and neglected horses. It’s an honor for our USHDC to add them to our long list of worthy charitable recipients.”

VEA’s mission is to rehabilitate and assist horses in finding a safe and healthy new life with that continuing goal interrupted just days ago as tornado activity demolished many sections of fencing on their property putting horses in peril.

Equine Manager Kelsey Rast pointed out the severe crises that faces her organization: “With rehabilitation costs, hay, dewormers, feed, farrier visits, equine dental exams and immunizations so expensive, it’s imperative to maintain our standard of excellence and the recent tornado outbreaks in our area that have pummeled us in recent days puts our mission in jeopardy, but we always find a way.

“This donation today by the United States Harness Drivers Club will help our cause so much and we hope the readers of this story can help our cause, as well, in continuing our work.”

In recent days, Volunteer Equine Advocates has rescued some 26 additional horses, from aged horses to foals less than one month old and does have many horses in training, rehabilitation or sanctuary with others available for adoption or sponsorship.

“Any help is appreciated so much and we have a ‘wish list’ on our website (veatnhorserescue.com) for specific items in need,” Kelsey concluded.

On the Oak Grove racetrack on Monday, a pair of USHDC events were contested with the aforementioned Ayr Pioneer GB (Soulofthematter) and Paperback Thriller (Mystery Chase) winning their respective races.

The English bred 9-year-old gelding Ayr Pioneer GB got picture perfect handling from owner Dein Spriggs to score a 1:56.1 win, his second straight win in USHDC competition, after a win last week for trainer Tony Dinges.

Nestled in the garden spot throughout the journey as Messi N, driven by Jafari Frazier, cut panels of :27.2, :57.3 and 1:25.4, Ayr Pioneer GB waltzed by once straightened away for the drive home and hold off Mach Diesel, with Jill Brown handling the lines, to win by a length. Messi N did finish third.

The winner, trained by Dinges, earned his 22nd lifetime success (12th on U.S. soil) and sent his lifetime bounty to $98,621. The winner was off at 9-5 and paid $5.80 to win.

Spriggs, by the way, has 503 wins here in North America and a handful overseas, as well.

The 9-year-old mare Paperback Thriller, beginning from the second tier for Peter Kleinhans, was fortunate to begin mid-pack while following the rail horse off the wings as Trey Brinson had White Belly sizzling off the wings from post five to post opening fractions of :26.1 and :54.3 with horses second and third gapped and struggling to keep up.

As the hot pace began to take its toll on the leader, Kleinhans had Paperback Thriller up into contention and shortly after the 1:23.4 three-quarter time had the leader collared and went on to a easy win measuring 1-3/4 lengths in 1:54.1. Little Addie, some 16 lengths out of it halfway through the mile, finished with a flurry to be second for Carson Conrad while Stun Gun with Shae Vandervort in the bike was third, two lengths away.

Paperback Thriller earned her second win of the year in 12 starts (34th lifetime) and now sports career earnings of $275,870. Trained by Randy Crisler for owner Therl Hensley, Paperback Thriller was off as the fourth choice in the betting and paid $17.58 to win.

For Peter Kleinhans, who drives sparingly in amateur events, it was his 69th career driving success.

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