Nina Simmonds laughs when she says that she took care of Golden Receiver for years and now the horse is taking care of her. But it is not far from the truth. And in fact Golden Receiver is taking care of more than Simmonds.
Golden Receiver (New Image Media)
Simmonds, thanks to the money earned by Golden Receiver during his harness racing career, in late February traveled to Costa Rica as part of the organization Equitarian Initiative. The group unites veterinarians, blacksmiths and caregivers to provide medical assistance to working horses, mules and donkeys used for income, agriculture and transportation in the developing world. It also provides education and training to the local population.
“It’s such a great thing that they’re doing,” said Simmonds, an upstate New York resident who bred and co-owns Golden Receiver.
“For the people in these areas, their animals are their cars, their trucks – their livelihood. They carry everything. If their animal is lame, it impacts the family in a very negative way. These people often can’t afford shoes for their children, let alone have veterinary care for their horses.”
Golden Receiver has won eight of nine races so far this year and earned $246,975 for Simmonds and owners Stable 45, Richard Taylor and Stephen Springer. Unraced as a two-year-old, the now seven-year-old gelding has won 44 of 105 career starts and banked $900,708.
Last weekend, Golden Receiver, trained by Mark Harder and driven by Randy Waples, completed a sweep of the Spring Pacing Championship series at Woodbine Racetrack in Ontario, beating Melvyn by more than five lengths in 1:49.2 in the final.
“He is pretty amazing,” Simmonds said. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams. His mother (Royal Gold) would’ve been a great horse. She was plagued by this lameness so I stopped racing her, but I just loved her. She had the same kind of gate speed that (Golden Receiver) has; out in front in 10 steps.”
Simmonds, who has a 60 acre farm on which she breeds, boards and trains horses, did not race Golden Receiver at two because she wanted to allow him time to grow into his large frame. She started late with Golden Receiver at three after unsuccessful attempts to find someone to buy or train him.
In his third career start, Golden Receiver won by more than 20 lengths in 1:52.4 at Vernon Downs and three starts later he won in a track-record 1:51.4 at Tioga Downs.
“He covered the ground so beautifully and had such a gorgeous stride,” Simmonds said. “I knew he was going to be something special. This horse was well out of my class.
"I was busy training other people’s horses and managing broodmares and babies; I had 40 horses on the farm. I couldn’t give him the attention he deserved.”
With interest growing in Golden Receiver, Simmonds took less money from the current ownership group to retain a percentage of the horse.
“That was fine with me because I knew that I would still be part of his life,” Simmonds said. “I don’t trade them like baseball cards.”
In January, Golden Receiver posted what was until last weekend his biggest win by capturing the $110,500 Presidential at the Meadowlands. With each accomplishment he assists Simmonds in helping other horses.
Simmonds intends to set up a fund to donate a portion of Golden Receiver’s earnings to Equitarian Initiative. The organization’s next trip is scheduled for Veracruz, Mexico, in mid-October.
“We worked on about 200 horses in Costa Rica, doing operations and vaccinations and testing for equine infectious anemia,” Simmonds said. “It was very empowering. This was my first involvement, but it won’t be my last.
"I could never afford to leave the farm before, or to travel anywhere like to Costa Rica, until Golden Receiver. He’s made this possible for us to help other horses in different countries that are very needy. It’s all very cool.”