Former Tampa Bay Downs runner finds new purpose in Minnesota with 17-year-old Madi; "How I Met Harv" is on sale in the track Gift Shop, part of proceeds go to retired racehorse adoption services.
Although they live in Glenwood, Minn., Jennifer Anderson and her 17-year-old, horse-crazy daughter Madison have a special connection to Tampa Bay Downs.
Anderson’s husband, Brad, was in the same class at Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Minn., as Lynn Rarick, who campaigns Thoroughbreds with her husband Randy (“Red”) Rarick at Tampa Bay Downs and Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn.
Brad and Jennifer (who graduated from Jefferson three years later) began taking Madison to the racetrack to visit the Raricks about nine years ago. “Madi” shows horses in competitions, and she started searching a few years ago for a replacement for her aging Quarter Horse, Flint.
Four years ago, Madi and her parents started traveling to Tampa Bay Downs to watch the Raricks’ chestnut gelding Harveson compete. His exciting neck victory under jockey Ademar Santos in January of 2016 in his fourth-to-last start was a storybook ending, in a sense, but also heralded a new beginning, since Lynn had promised to give Harveson to Madi when his racing days ended.
The story of Harveson’s racing career and his move to Glenwood, along with Madi’s desire to give him a chance to prove himself away from the track, form the basis of Jennifer Anderson’s book “How I Met Harv: Based on a True Story about a Young Girl and a
Madi, Harveson and Lynn Rarick
The book, which was released early this year, is on sale in the Tampa Bay Downs Gift Shop on racing days. It is written for children of all ages, as well as horse enthusiasts. The book is beautifully illustrated by Faythe Mills, also a resident of Glenwood.
A portion of the proceeds from book sales are being donated to various retired racehorse adoption services, including a $1,000 contribution to Bowman Second Chance Thoroughbred Adoption. “My mom came up with the idea, and I think it’s the best idea ever,” Madi said.
Anderson's book is available in the Tampa Bay Downs Gift Shop
“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Jennifer Anderson, who has participated in several book signings with Madi in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. “Animals have a way of bringing people together, and (‘How I Met Harv’) has opened doors for Madi to speak to groups of people about the need to find homes for these great athletes after their racing careers are over.”
Tampa Bay Downs supports efforts to rehabilitate, retrain and re-home retired Thoroughbreds through its affiliation with Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa (TROT), which is accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
Madi, a high school junior, took possession of the now-8-year-old gelding Harveson in May of 2017, and the results have been nothing short of astounding. They earned grand champion status in both halter and English pleasure at a local competition to qualify for the Minnesota State Fair, and Madi has high hopes on improving their standing in 2019. Madi has also excelled in Future Farmers of America (FFA) for horse-judging competitions.
“The first time I met Harv (early in his racing career), we bonded right away,” Madi said. “Whenever I stopped petting him, he would nudge me, and I realized what a sweet horse he was. He has a neat personality.”
The Raricks are delighted to have found Harveson such a good home. “I went to one of the county fairs where they competed over the summer and Madi looked awesome,” Lynn Rarick said.
“Madi is a sweet girl with a good head on her shoulders, and she is very particular about her horses. She had fallen in love with Harveson from the beginning, and she has done an amazing job of transitioning him to a new career,” Rarick added.
The Raricks put up as many of their horses as they can for adoption. “We get attached to them, and I like to know they are doing well and have a good home after they leave the racetrack,” Lynn said.
Madi reports that Harv has become her 30-year-old Quarter Horse Flint’s best friend at a nearby family farm where they are being kept. It is a major success story for Madi, horse racing and Harveson, who wasn’t outstanding on the track but is showing how useful he can be away from racing.
“I believe every horse deserves a second chance in life,” Madi said. “They can find different disciplines after their racetrack life and be happy with a little girl like me who can give them a good home.”