Sinkhole Horse Mr. Changue Retired, Seeking New Career

If you remember the name of 8-year-old claiming veteran Mr. Changue, it’s probably because of one of the strangest days of his life. The Fort Erie mainstay was peacefully eating grass on the backstretch of the racetrack in the summer of 2019 when the ground gave way and swallowed him in a six-foot hole. A broken water main had created a sinkhole just where the chestnut was standing, and the next hour or so was a frantic race by trainer Ken Albu, his fellow trainers, and the Fort Erie Fire Department to get him out again.

Now, Albu is hoping he can become famous for something a little less harrowing.

After 65 starts, nine wins, 17 seconds and eight thirds, Albu and owner Sam Passero have decided to call it a day with Mr. Changue. The barn favorite won a claimer this summer but Albu said in recent weeks he could tell the horse’s heart just wasn’t in his job anymore.

“He just doesn’t want to do it no more,” said Albu. “And I’m not going to hurt him to do it. Even though he’s at the barn and wants to train every day, he goes out there and he’s not performing to the top of his game. I know.”

Albu is now in the process of screening potential new homes for Mr. Changue. He said he has always made an effort to find new vocations for horses retiring from his barn, but this horse is special. He plans to create a sale or adoption contract that will give him first right of refusal if a new home doesn’t work out. If he has to, Mr. Changue can live out his days with his old friend, but Albu thinks the horse may prefer to keep busy.

“He’s a gentleman,” Albu said. “Anyone can feed him. He has a lovely disposition. He’s an 8-year-old stallion and he’s got a great disposition.

“I’ve had a lot of contacts — Long Run Retirement showed some interest in him. I’ve had so many calls. I just want him to go to a good home, a forever home. It’s not really about the money for me; I don’t even really want money for him, I want to make sure he has a good home for the rest of his life. Long Run is willing to accept him, but they’re not able to accept a stallion. If I can find someone who can accommodate him and enjoy him, then that would be great.”

Mr. Changue during his sinkhole rescue. Photo courtesy Ken Albu

Albu has trained the horse since 2018 and admitted it will be hard not to see him in the barn every day — especially after that awful day two years ago.

“He’s a resilient old bugger,” said Albu. “We got a back hoe to dig him out and then pretty much turned him around and walked him out. But he was in the ground for an hour or so. He handled it pretty well because he’s a sensible guy. He didn’t panic. He came out pretty much unscathed.”

In fact, 12 days later, Mr. Changue was tearing the barn down, ready to run, so Albu put him in the entries — and he won.

“He’s kind of a special horse in my heart,” said Albu. “I thought we were going to lose him that day [he fell in the hole]. By the grace of God we didn’t, and he was able to go on and have a great career here … I’ve been training for 22 years and he’s one of the closest horses to my heart that I’ve ever had.”

The post Sinkhole Horse Mr. Changue Retired, Seeking New Career appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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