“They’re so fragile,” whispers Arika Everatt-Meeuse, manager of Shannondoe Farm in St. Thomas, Ontario.
These are the words repeated over and over as news travels around the Woodbine racing community about the sudden deaths of top thoroughbreds Sand Cove and Jungle Wave.
Sand Cove as a yearling at Shannondoe Farm
Sand Cove, a handsome grey seven-year-old horse who earned $1,073,282 and was named Canada’s Champion Older Male in 2010, died following a month-long battle with laminitis.
Jungle Wave, a seven-year-old bay gelding who earned $689,291 in a 31-race career that included a memorable score in the Grade 2 Play The King in 2009, succumbed to colic.
Sand Cove, who was bred by James A. Everatt, Janeane A. Everatt & Everatt-Meeuse at Shannondoe Farm, was retired to stud last fall at Shannondoe Farm and was booked to more than 40 mares.
The good-looking grey was adjusting well to life off the track at Everatt-Meeuse’s Kentucky farm and his sudden turn for the worse came as a surprise.
“He was just very slightly off on the left front on January 12 and we thought we were just dealing with probably a foot abscess,” explains Everatt-Meeuse. “We put a boot on him and the next morning the vet came over to check it out and, again, it was always very mild. But when the vet was done with him, he said, ‘I’m not sure the horse isn’t trying to throw a mechanical founder at us.’ So we started to treat him preventively and we brought in Rood & Riddle.”
Sand Cove struts the Woodbine walking ring
Laminitis is an inflammation of sensitive layers of tissue inside the hoof. A 2009 report by the American Association of Equine Practitioners revealed, “It is conservatively estimated that 15 percent of horses in the United States are afflicted by laminitis during their lifetimes. Up to 75 percent of horses affected with laminitis eventually develop severe or chronic lameness and debilitation.”
Champions such as Secretariat, Barbaro and Sunday Silence all succumbed to laminitis, to which there is yet no cure.
Over a two-week period, Sand Cove was put through a number of treatments including corrective trimming and he was fitted with a pair of special shoes as the vets did their best to alleviate the issue.
It appeared, at least for a brief spell following a series of clean x-rays, that the hard-knocking son of Bold Executive-Mythical Status had put away the disease, but a sudden turn for the worse sent Sand Cove back into battle.
Sand Cove, partnered on this day by Rob Landry, heads to the track
“Three days later he was dead lame on that left front,” says Everatt-Meeuse. “They x-rayed and he was severely rotated. It’s one of the most frustrating, sickening diseases, ailments in the horses. I’ve learned so much about laminitis. I sat with those guys (Rood & Riddle’s specialists) pretty much every day talking about the causes and what to do. We were doing everything we could possibly do and he still foundered.”
Sand Cove responded well to a life-saving procedure to cut the deep flexor tendon to relieve the pressure on his front-left foot, but the next day he came up sore on his right front foot which started to founder.
“It was a sinking type of founder instead of a rotation, so it was a completely different treatment,” says Everatt-Meeuse. “We were casting the foot and changing the casts every other day trying to stop the coffin bone from coming down. We went for two weeks riding a roller coaster of good days and bad days and finally on February 13 he lost the battle. It was awful.”
Everatt-Meeuse, who knew Sand Cove from his first steps to his final breath, is heartbroken at the loss.
“We would have done anything just to let him have the retirement he deserved,” she says.
True to his competitive nature, Sand Cove battled to the very end.
“He tried very hard,” she says. “He was a very stoic horse and an excellent patient. He was true class.”
Sand Cove's final victory - - the Steady Growth Stakes
He leaves behind a legacy of memorable stake scores and a unique profile of past performances that includes wins at distances ranging from five furlongs to a mile and an eighth, and so versatile that he boasts stakes wins on both the turf and the main track.
Rarely did the courageous Sand Cove carry less weight than 120lbs in a 36-race career fulfilled by nine added-money scores, including a front-end romp in the 2010 Grade 3 Seagram Cup.
Richard Dos Ramos, who was aboard for Sand Cove’s first and final victories, was shaken by the news.
“I was not expecting this and it was quite a shock to get the call,” says Dos Ramos. “It tore the heart out of me. I cried. It really hurt me to get that news because he was a pleasure to ride, a true competitor in every sense. I would have loved to see his offspring race, to see them go on and carry on his great spirit.
“When he first started, we thought he’d be a nice, little horse. But he turned into one great athlete. He was just so much fun to ride. I miss him more than I could say.”
Sand Cove and Dos Ramos head to the track one last time
Sand Cove, a son of the recently deceased Bold Executive - - a perennial leading sire in Canada - - was about to embark on a stallion career and his death is a huge blow to the breeding industry.
“He was beautiful, a very correct, very good looking horse,” says Everatt-Meeuse of Sand Cove. “That Bold Executive, he’s sort of the last line to a foundation line here in Canada…he (Sand Cove) had a real license to be a horse and we were going to support him very heavily. We had quite a few bookings to him. We had at least 40 outside. He was going to get a great shot here.”
Everatt-Meeuse confesses she’d have given anything to have saved the horse she watched grow into a familiar face in Woodbine’s stakes circuit, and holds on to memories of a younger Sand Cove, in simpler times at Shannondoe Farm.
“I have a beautiful picture of that horse as a yearling, in July of his yearling year, out in a field here underneath a great big willow tree very similar to the paddock at Woodbine,” she says. “That was his field. I remember him well, and he was a wonderful horse.”
Jungle Wave, a gentle giant of a gelding, was not going to have a future as a stallion, but he leaves behind his own unique legacy to those that knew him well.
The Tucci Stable charge, bred by Katalpa Farm & Dr. Rodney Orr, was one of assistant trainer Jamie Attard’s favourite friends.
“He was such a classy horse,” says Attard. “He was all class. Always. Anything you did with him, he did it the way you wanted him to and you didn’t even have to ask him. He knew exactly what you wanted from him.”
Jamie Attard leads Jungle Wave in the Woodbine walking ring
Jungle Wave arrived at Woodbine from California near the end of his three-year-old campaign in 2008 and promptly won an allowance tilt for then owner Peter Redekop and trainer Terry Jordan.
Tucci Stable would claim the bay out of his four-year-old debut at Woodbine for $62,500 and their horse embarked on a remarkable run.
“I picked him up the day we claimed him and I looked after him ever since up until the time we shipped him to Florida when Nick Gonzalex took over this winter,” recalls Attard. “He won the day we claimed him and then he won two races in a row on the grass for us after that. The third time we ran him, he won three in a row for us when he won the Play The King.”
The classy Jungle Wave
Attard’s recollection is about spot on - - Jungle Wave’s trio of turf scores is interrupted only by a second-place effort in the Bold Venture Stakes, raced over the Polytrack, to Fatal Bullet, who the year previous was named Canada’s Horse of the Year.
Jungle Wave’s Play The King coup, in which he was sent to post as the public’s choice in a field that included multiple graded stakes winners Field Commission and Rebellion, was a scintillating score.
Under an aggressive ride by Todd Kabel, Jungle Wave bullied the lead from Cross Every Bridge at the top of the stretch and held sway under a drive to score by three-quarters of a length over a rallying Field Commission, stopping the clock in 1:23.06 for seven furlongs on a yielding E.P Taylor Turf Course.
Jungle Wave is well-remembered by those who worked with the horse on the Woodbine backstretch. Attard, who was the only groom Jungle Wave knew following the fortuitous claim, was sometimes known to climb on top of the bashful bay while the horse was laying down and resting, and brush his mane.
Another friend once left Attard a note proclaiming that Jungle Wave was the, “classiest horse on the track.”
Jungle Wave loved his job
When Attard walked Jungle Wave to the trailer at the end of the 2011 Woodbine meet, he didn’t know it would be their last moment together. The horse would travel to the care of Nick Gonzalez for whom he made one start this winter at Gulfstream Park, and after being scratched from a subsequent race, succumbed to colic.
Colic, a term used to describe abdominal pain, mainly arises from distention of the intestine. There are varying types of colic and it can be very difficult in the early stages to distinguish the mild from the potentially fatal.
Jungle Wave wins one last time at Woodbine
Attard, who just took out his trainer’s license making him the eighth member of the family to hang their shingle at Woodbine, would dearly love to have Jungle Wave in his barn.
“It’s tough,” he admits. “Already with us shipping back in (to Woodbine), there’s already another horse in his stall and when I walk past that stall, it’s tough, because you’re looking for him, but you see another horse. It’s a sad reminder, every day.”
But those that loved Jungle Wave will remember his spirit, his determination and his ever-quickening turn of foot, as much as they will the friendly face that peered from his stall each morning quietly waiting for the attention he loved, and received, in abundance.
Jungle Wave will be missed
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It’s tough to learn about the passing of two familiar seven-year-olds in such a brief period of time – especially considering the immediate, and loving, care both Sand Cove and Jungle Wave received in trying to overcome their illness.
Those that are inclined may want to visit the NTRA Charities webpage for information on how to donate to the Barbaro Fund for Equine Health and Safety Research.
Other useful links regarding laminitis and colic include:
AAEP Foundation's Equine Laminitis Research Workshop Sets Goal to Conquer Laminitis by Year 2020
Equine Anesthesia: Wake Me When It’s Over
Equine Laminitis: 2012 Video Education Update from the Animal Health Foundation
McKee-Pownall Equine Services Youtube Channel
McKee-Pownall video regarding a colic exam