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Second chance horse: Once neglected, a thoroughbred shines again

Great horse stories always seem to capture the heart. Even for those who don't follow horses or horse racing, names like Seabiscuit or Secretariat or Barbaro seem to serve as proud reminders of an American story, whether triumph or tragedy.

"Unbridled," a 3-year-old thoroughbred colt, winner of the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeder's Cup, retired, and like most successful racehorses do, sired a prestigious lineage of champions.

Among the subsequent offspring, was a "grandchild" filly aptly named "Fine Behind." Considering the high pedigree family bloodline, she was sold for $80,000 at the Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale when only 6-months old.

After a short, promising racing career, the filly became a broodmare at Ernie Paragallo's Center Brook Farm in Climax, N.Y.

In 2009, the state police raided the Center Brook Farm and found 'Fine Behind' as well as 177 other horses suffering from neglect and starvation. Six of the horses were beyond medical help and had to be put down. Paragallo was arrested and sent to jail although some people felt he should suffer the same fate as the six horses that didn't make it.

Fortunately, new owners were found for the remaining survivors, including Renee Lane of Skaneateles. Upon learning of the horrible condition of the horses at Center Brook Farms and eager to help, Lane arrived at Center Brook and found Fine Behind so weak she could barely stand. Fine's hooves were broken; her once beautiful coat was infested with lice and had turned matted and dull. Although tired, neglected and underweight, Fine still displayed the traits of a pedigree bloodline. After six months of care and healthy attention from Lane, Fine got a second chance.

Claire Affleck, owner of Skaneateles Equestrian Center on Franklin Street and friend of Lane, told her of the promise this special horse still had. Affleck and Lane discussed the future of the filly and shortly thereafter Fine Behind became a new resident of the Center.

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