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Jug Champion In Need Of New Home

Published: November 16, 2011 7:16 pm ET

Last Comment: November 17, 2011 10:48 am ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Jean Rastetter has a small stable at The Meadows in western Pennsylvania; mostly racehorses, a yearling and until recently a Little Brown Jug winner.

Since 1997, when 1995 Little Brown Jug winner Nicks Fantasy raced at Los Alamitos in California, Rastetter cared for him at home in West Alexander, Pennsylvania until he arrived at the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) this month, in need of a permanent home.

After the cheering stopped the September day Nicks Fantasy won the Little Brown Jug, the rest of his path was not sprinkled with yellow roses. The gelding won a division of the Bluegrass Stakes and the Tattersalls at The Red Mile weeks after his Jug victory for trainers Caroline Lyon and Bob Ritchie and owners, Ken Carver’s Markenjay Stud, Perfect World Enterprises and Kenneth Koock.

From that point forward, there were many tracks, but no more wins. He was fifth in the Breeders Crown in 1995 and got small cheques in stakes races as a four-year-old in 1996. By the end of 1996, he was in California and unable to get a cheque in high level condition races. In early 1997, he managed a third-place in a winners-over race, but couldn’t win two qualifiers in February and March.

Nicks Fantasy’s time in California coincided with that of Rastetter’s. As she recalls it, “[Trainer] Bernie Wolin got him along the line and I was working for him. He took him to Cal-Expo and Los Alamitos. Then he broke down and was sore there at Cal-Expo and they didn’t know what to do with him. Ken Carver was there and I said I’d love to have him. I’d give him a good home and he’d make a great riding horse; he was broke to ride already. I actually paid Bernie $100 or $200, gas money, to haul him home for me from Cal-Expo [to Pennsylvania].”

Over the years, Rastetter and 'Nick' had many happy hours on the trails.

“I love that horse,” she said. “He did everything to please you. When I rode him he was just like, ‘I’m it and that’s it.’ He is just great to be around. He’s a good horse; he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Rastetter gave 'Nick' one more try on the track in 2000.

“He got real sound because we were riding him and we talked about trying to get him back to the track,” Rastetter said.

Nicks Fantasy raced in qualifiers twice and was eighth in an overnight at The Meadows.

“He got sore again on that left front, so we didn’t push him,” Rastetter said.

Rastetter cared for Nicks Fantasy through the years, with the exception of a year he was on loan to a friend with children.

“She needed a horse for her kids to ride and for a riding camp,” she said. “He went there and stayed with her for a year. The kids loved him. Her daughter was about six and she used to climb up his front legs, grab on to his mane, sit on his back and slide down his tail. That’s how much he loves kids.”

Ratstetter has had no contact with the horse’s former connections and when she was no longer able to care for 'Nick', she turned to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation. Unfortunately, the “left front” that caused problems during his racing days continues to be an issue. Nicks Fantasy has been evaluated by veterinarian Dr. Steven Bokman, who has mapped out a course of treatment.

While Nicks Fantasy is comfortable and able to walk normally, he has anatomical changes in his left front foot that will require long-term treatment.

“We’re going to fit him with a boot; I have one ordered,” Bokman said. “He will wear a boot all the time and I’m hoping if we can stop debris from getting into his foot, this will resolve itself from the standpoint that he’ll be able to produce more horn on his hoof. The horse is very comfortable walking.”

John Campbell, who drove Nicks Fantasy in the Jug, and is a founding member of the SRF board of directors, and his wife Paula, a co-founder, have already made a generous donation for his care.

“We’re grateful for John and Paula’s help and hope others might like to join them in supporting this horse,” said SRF co-founder Judith Bokman. “We’re providing intensive treatment for his foot and are looking to get him to a higher level of functioning. We’re hoping that sometime in 2012 he will be ready to move to a home where he can live out his life. He’s got a nice demeanor and is covered with dapples. We’d love to hear from anyone with some pasture for a Little Brown Jug winner.”

Those who might like to help the SRF with Nicks Fantasy’s care can contact them at 609-324-1500, [email protected], 108F Old York Road, Hamilton, N.J. 08628 (

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

November 17, 2011 - 10:48 amThis is a part of harness

This is a part of harness racing that it is tough to deal with. MY heart breaks for this guy and so many others. I wish I could do more for sure. It makes my heart very heavy. I am really hoping that somebody can and will help.

November 16, 2011 - 8:48 pmHope someone with the proper

Randy Copley SAID...

Hope someone with the proper facilities steps up for this horse.

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