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Colt Survives Gunshot, Now A Racehorse

Published: April 2, 2015 9:02 am ET

Last Comment: April 11, 2015 10:39 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

After miraculously surviving a gunshot to his neck in an anonymous attack while turned out with his mother as a foal, Phoos Boy has persevered with his persistently patient owner by his side and is not far off from his racing debut.

In July 2012, Phoos Boy was found in the field with a gaping rifle wound through his neck. Only two and a half months old at the time, Phoos Boy was rushed to the nearby Russell Equine Veterinary Clinic in Russell, Ontario where he spent the next two and a half months of his life recovering from the ruthless act of an unknown perpetrator, who remains at-large despite police investigations and a $5,000 reward offered to find the person responsible.

Survival, let alone a racing career, seemed unlikely at the time. But Phoos Boy is clearly a fighter. While he might be a little bit late to the gate, he is set to become a racehorse against all odds.

"Well, we have a miracle happening," owner Bob Montgomery told Trot Insider on Wednesday evening. "Phoos Boy qualified this morning, but we're going to qualify him again. It's been a long drawn out affair with him. I had him pretty well ready as a two-year-old and he hurt a front foot in his stall -- no major problem or anything -- so we gave him some time off then we gelded him and we've taken our time bringing him back this year."

While Phoos Boy's neck still bares the indentation of the bullet wound, the disfigurement hasn't stifled his potential to become a racehorse. The strong-willed pacer began his early lessons with longtime horseman Steven Norris at his farm in Perth, Ontario.

"He's got two big holes in both sides of his neck and he can't go with a high head. If you pull his head up, he sort of swings it and so we have two headpoles and a low check on him, but he's got a little step," explained Montgomery, noting the gelding's racy pedigree includes Art Colony and his tough mare Miss Poole p,6,1:52.3s ($183,971).

A few months ago though, Phoos Boy's connections became concerned when they noticed he appeared to have difficulty putting his head down when eating hay off the ground and they agreed to try using a magnetic blanket on his neck for half an hour each day. The ongoing treatment has alleviated their concerns.

"I was never a big believer in magnets, but now I'm starting to become one," said Montgomery. "It seems to have helped; he doesn't seem to have any problem now putting his head down at all."

While Phoos Boy's growth was initially stunted from the ordeal in his first year, he has since grown into "a good-sized horse."

"All in all, everything's coming up roses right now and we just hope it continues," said Montgomery. "He's as sound as a dollar and he's learning how to race."

"I've schooled him three times now and he's just picking up better and better every time he goes," said Norris. "For the amount of money that Bob's put into him and all the trouble he's been through, I hope he goes on."

With a winning qualifier under his belt, Phoos Boy is expected to qualify again next week at Rideau Carleton Raceway and start his career slowly at the Ottawa oval before Montgomery considers sending him to race in Toronto and potentially compete in the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots program.

"We're going to give him a few starts down here and once we can go a mile in [1]:57 down here then I'll be content to take him up west," said Montgomery, who has been in talks with two-time O'Brien Award winner Richard Moreau to take over training when the pacer is ready for the move. "That's going to be a few weeks, but I waited all this long and I'm not going to rush things."

The past two years have, without a doubt, tested Montgomery's patience and pocketbook, but the veteran horseman has passed with flying colours.

"Most people would have just had the colt put down I think because they probably couldn't afford to get him to where he was going to live," said Norris, noting Montgomery's early commitment to give Phoos Boy every chance to live despite the costs associated with his recovery. "It was a long process for Bob and it's still a process really. He told me to take my time with him and I hope that we can get him there this year. He's almost there."

April 11, 2015 - 10:39 pmWow. What a brave colt. I

Wow. What a brave colt. I wish his owners all the best with him

April 8, 2015 - 5:12 amLeave it to Bob, Steve and

Leave it to Bob, Steve and Brenda to get this colt behind the gate and racing. The colt couldn't be in better love, care and opportunity. Wishing you all much success. Nice qualifying line first time out. Congrats!

April 3, 2015 - 2:12 pmMy hat is off to you

My hat is off to you Mr.Montgomery, it show's your deep down feelings and love you have for these equine athletes and as long as Phoos had a breath in him you gave him a chance at life.I have a feeling he will reward you for your kindness and caring, I will follow his progress and pray that he live's up top your expectations what ever they are.The best of luck to you and your horse, may God bless you. Have a good day.

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