“I’ve waited my entire life for this,” said Amanda Cole-Fitzpatrick as we talked about her other half and her four-legged love Euclid Avenue.
Pulling out her phone she shows me some of the precious and funny moments she has captured with Euclid since the two joined forces a year and a half ago. Getting to know all his quirks she laughs at one of her videos showing the gelding eating some interesting treats. “He’s a champion freezie eater,” admitted Cole-Fitzpatrick in lieu of Euclid’s new penchant for freezies.
Beaming with pride at her boy, her digital memories are just a small part of their love story that began at one of the barns on Woodbine’s backstretch. A veterinary technician for Toronto Equine Hospital, Cole-Fitzpatrick has been working at the racetrack for the last thirteen years. Not surprisingly, she has seen her fair share of horses while working among the 38 barns for more than a decade. Although she has formed bonds with her equine patients, she didn’t fall head over heels for a racehorse until Euclid came along in 2010.
“I think it was when he was two, he showed up and he lived in a corner stall of the barn. So anytime I would walk into the barn he would just be there. I would bring him apples, carrots and peppermints and really enjoyed his quirky personality,” said Cole-Fitzpatrick. His cheeky personality stood out to her right away. “He loved the attention but then you try and walk away and he would try to bite at you.”
Euclid began his racing campaign on October 8 2010 at Woodbine racetrack. The Old Forester gelding broke his maiden and won first time out. He continued to race at Woodbine until late June 2012. He went onto run at Fort Erie racetrack a handful of times without success and returned to Woodbine in November 2012. From there, Euclid was shipped to Mountaineer where he raced three times between November 2012 and July 2013. In September 2013, he finished up his racing career at ThistleDown racetrack in Ohio.
Although his racing career started out in the winner’s circle at Woodbine where Cole-Fitzpatrick could keep tabs on him, the gelding did not maintain his stellar performance over the next couple seasons. “He didn’t really show anything as a three-year-old and… (ended up) going to Fort Erie and getting claimed so I lost touch with him from getting claimed in Fort Erie.”
Wanting to make sure Euclid would end up in a good home after his racing career ended Cole-Fitzpatrick contacted LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society in 2012 to help her track him down. “He disappeared off of Equibase for seven months or so and I thought they had given him away as a pleasure horse or something had happened to him.”
Despite the horse’s hiatus from racing between 2012 and 2013, Euclid finally made a re-appearance in Cole-Fitzpatrick’s life. “He showed up on my virtual stable one day and I was like ‘omg he’s alive.’” Feeling relieved that she had found him, the vet tech was also pleased to find that a change of ownership had taken place when he began racing at ThistleDown. “That change of ownership was probably the best thing that could have happened to me and to him because the trainer that had him was a good friend of an old co-worker.”
After a couple of non-competitive starts at ThistleDown, Cole-Fitzpatrick finally got the call she had been waiting for since meeting Euclid. “I was working here at Woodbine on a Saturday and my friend Les said ‘he’s yours Amanda come and get him’ and I was ecstatic.”
Cole-Fitzpatrick felt like a winner the day she brought home Euclid and she notes that the timing was somewhat uncanny. “It was four years to the day that he won his first race that I walked him off the trailer (as) mine.”
Bringing him back to Ontario and to his new home at Valkyrie stables in Alliston, Cole-Fitzpatrick admits to being overwhelmed at first because she hadn’t seen the horse in awhile. “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. Losing touch for three years I didn’t know if he had any injuries. They told me he had ankles and a bowed tendon.”
With that in mind her first step was to give the gelding six months off and work on his feet issues. “He had some serious foot corrections. He really had the typical thoroughbred syndrome, low heels, long toes - he was quite lame because of that.”
Once the corrective trimming was done and Euclid was sound to ride again it was time for Fitzpatrick to hop back in the saddle. Although the vet tech had ridden and been in a pony club when she was young girl, she had been out of the saddle since she went to vet school.
Luckily she didn’t have to search too far for help. The owner of Valkyrie stables breaks and trains horses and gave Cole-Fitzpatrick a helping hand when it came time to re-start Euclid. “It’s really great to have somebody to give you the guidance you need to retrain an off the track thoroughbred, because they are tough.”
Working with Euclid in the saddle and on the ground, their bond has undoubtedly become stronger over the last year. She also knows that Euclid is more than content in his new life. “He’s a spoiled rotten brat,” laughed Cole-Fitzpatrick who goes to see her boy nearly every day even if it’s just to give him treats or a kiss. Going into this, Cole-Fitzpatrick admits that she had no real intention of him becoming her riding horse. “My sole attention was just to rescue him, to be a pasture ornament for the rest of his life.”
However, both horse and rider have gotten a second chance and Cole-Fitzpatrick is happy that she never stopped keeping tabs on him. “Don’t give up because if it was meant to be it will happen.”