Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Owners TRY 2 Retire Mighty Mecke but S*%T Happens!

Retired Horse Saved
from Return to Track

Deirdre B. Biles
Date Posted: 8/29/2008 3:59:01

Mighty Mecke winning the
2005 OBS Championship Stakes.

When Mighty Mecke broke his foot in
February, his co-owners Jeff Puglisi of Puglisi Racing and trainer
Klesaris, decided it was time to retire the 6-year-old colt from racing
and find
him a new career. Through a bloodstock agent, they discovered Stillfork
Farm in
Ohio, and they said they were told Mighty Mecke would stand there as a

But soon after the stakes-winning
bay horse was delivered to the nursery in early July, Puglisi heard
from a man
who said Mighty Mecke had been sold to him to race in Antigua. Puglisi
Klesaris located the horse in Florida, hired a lawyer, and launched a
effort to get him back. The two men succeeded, but want other owners to
know the
story so their retired racehorses won’t end up in a similar

"I’m in shock," Klesaris said. "I
still can’t believe it happened. It completely blows me away that there
people out there like this."

Klesaris, as agent for Puglisi
Stables, purchased Mighty
Mecke for $130,000 at the 2004 Ocala
Breeders’ Sales
Co. April sale of 2-year-olds in training. The horse captured nine
including the Nick Shuk Memorial Stakes and the male division of the
Championship Stakes in 2005, and earned $271,670. But when Mighty Mecke
fractured his foot, after undergoing two knee surgeries earlier in his
Klesaris and Puglisi didn’t believe he should ever race again. And they
they and their agent, Mike Slezak, made that clear to Michele Hubbs,
who was the
agent in the transaction for a man she identified as Larry

In addition, according to Puglisi
and Molly Jo Rosen, the racing manager for Puglisi Racing, they did
research on Stillfork Farm, looking it up on the Internet and making
phone calls
to "the Ohio state-bred program." The van driver, after dropping off
Mecke at Stillfork, took photos of the farm and gave them to

"We absolutely made it clear that
this horse was not a racing prospect," claimed Puglisi, who sold Mighty
for $2,500.

But Puglisi got a surprise July 7,
when he received an e-mail from a man in Antigua who said he had bought
Mecke and wanted to know the equipment and medication the horse would
need when
he raced in several weeks.

An upset Puglisi said he phoned
Hubbs and left messages, but she wouldn’t return his

"She20did talk to Mike, and she told
him her deal fell through with her plans for Mecke, and she had to sell
horse because her boyfriend or husband lost his job," Puglisi said. But
according to Puglisi, discussions with the various people involved in
the deal
indicated that Hubbs had planned, all along, to resell Mighty Mecke as
racehorse rather than stand him at Stillfork.

"It was all premeditated," claims
Puglisi, who spent more than $2,500 to locate Mighty Mecke in Florida
and get
him returned. "I’ve got a pretty good idea that these types of things
happen all
the time — that these horses that should be retired are sold by their
owners for
breeding purposes and then they are actually being raced unbeknownst to
owner. That’s very troubling and very disturbing to me. Mighty Mecke
was just
days away from boarding a plane and being on his way to Antigua to

Blood-Horse attempted to contact Hubbs for
comment five times through telephone calls and left messages on her
voice mail,
but she didn’t respond.

She did answer an e-mail, writing
that she should be contacted by phone.

In the future, when trying to sell
or give away horses after racing them, Puglisi said he plans to
exercise "more
due diligence" in placing them with new owners. Mighty Mecke’s foal
papers were
given to Hubbs, at her request, something Puglisi won
’t do again in

involving retired runners.

With previous racehorses that
Puglisi had retired and sold, he said there was a written contract that
the new
owners had signed, saying the animals would not run again. There was no
contract for Mighty Mecke, but Puglisi will make the document a
requirement from
now on before he releases a horse.

"I think the foal papers are the key
to all this; they (the new owners) really only need them if the horse
is going
to race," Puglisi said.

Mighty Mecke is at Klesaris’ barn at
the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

"We’re trying to decide what to do
with him," Puglisi said. "Right now, we’re thinking about keeping him
as a pony.
He’s very special to everybody on our whole team."

Klesaris said one of the solutions
to make sure horses like Mighty Mecke find good homes after competing
is to set
up a national program in which people who own or work with racehorses
veterinarians, farriers, jockeys, grooms, and exercise riders — would
mandatory contributions to a fund to support the runners following
retirements. The money could be collected as part of licensing fees or
as a
small percentage of purses.

"If everybody in this game had to
contribute a dollar a week, just think about the amount of money it
generate," Klesaris s
aid. "Each state would have its own facility for
retirement of racehorses, and it would have the money to fund

Copyright © 2008 The
Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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