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Stakes-placed Wulpe finds new life on Murray State campus

Football team may have new mascot thanks to generosity of owners

Jack and Laurie Wolf received a six-figure offer in early 2004 from a party seeking to buy their three-year-old Montbrook colt Wulpe, who had just scored an impressive win in an entry-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

The Wolfs turned down the offer and a few weeks later watched Wulpe finish third under Jerry Bailey over a sloppy track as the favorite in the Hansel Stakes at Turfway Park for trainer Todd Pletcher. Wulpe's racing career went precipitously downhill over the next 11/2 years.

Wulpe was claimed twice and ended up at a sale in New Holland, Pennsylvania, where he was purchased for $310 by an agent representing a slaughter company. Beverly Strauss, executive director of the MidAtlantic Horse Rescue organization, intervened and bought Wulpe from the agent for about $450. She did not learn the colt's pedigree or his background until she researched his lip tattoo with the Jockey Club.

About a month later, Jack Wolf read a letter to the editor from Strauss in Thoroughbred Times that described Wulpe's near demise. Shocked by what he read, Wolf sprang into action.
"He was claimed from us, but we never thought he would end up where he did," Wolf said about Wulpe. "It was very shocking. We're just glad that people like Beverly are out there."
The Wolfs, who have raced such top performers as two-time champion and 2004 Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) winner Ashado, multiple Grade 1 winner Harlan's Holiday, and '05 Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) winner Purge, felt inclined to reach out to Strauss to express their appreciation and to extend an offer of their own to reacquire Wulpe.

The couple paid Strauss's expenses and arranged for a new home for Wulpe, who had been gelded, as a donation to the equine program at Jack Wolf's alma mater, Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. Dale Barnett, director of the equine program at Murray State, said there are plenty of options for using Wulpe at the university, but one role that would be especially gratifying for Wolf would be as the "Racer One" mascot for the school's football team.
"He would run on the field after the team scores a touchdown," Wolf, a former player for the Racers football team, said with a laugh. "Unfortunately, there probably won't be much for him to do because we usually don't score many touchdowns."

Barnett said Wulpe has some soundness issues that he would have to overcome before he could be trained to be a mascot. "The horse that's doing it now needs to be retired, so we would love for Wulpe to be able to do it," Barnett said. "He's a real nice horse, and the students [in the program] have really enjoyed working with him."

A few years ago, the Wolfs donated Grade 3 winner Thesaurus to the Murray State program, which stands the 12-year-old son of With Approval for a private fee.
"You just wish other owners would do what they've done," Strauss said. "It allows us to go out and save another horse."--Jeff Lowe, Thoroughbred Times

Posted: 3/20/2006 10:45:00 AM

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