Filly’s mysterious pregnancy lands Nova Scotia horsemen in court

Putnam’s Snowstorm was pregnant, a foal was born not long afterwards

The young filly could have been a contender.

An adjudicator says Putnam’s Snowstorm had the right bloodlines and the speed to potentially be a winning harness racer.

But a mysterious “fluke” pregnancy diverted the yearling standardbred filly off the track — and landed three Nova Scotia horsemen in small claims court.

A ruling released this week said Emmons MacKay and Paul Smith bought Putnam’s Snowstorm for $10,000 at the Classic Yearling Sale in Crapaud, P.E.I., in October 2017.

“(They) had selected this particular filly because her bloodlines suggested that she could be a contender … they began training her with the intention of racing her in the 2018 racing season in the Atlantic provinces,” said adjudicator Eric Slone.

“The training went well and she began to run some times that were close to what would have been indicative of a contender.”

But six or seven months later, her racing times deteriorated and she began showing signs of pregnancy.

READ MORE: Mammoths stand tall at Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge

A vet soon confirmed it: Putnam’s Snowstorm was pregnant. A foal was born not long afterwards.

“While an additional horse might in some situations be considered a plus, this particular colt has no commercial value because it is not a standardbred,” said Slone.

MacKay and Smith did the math and realized the horse would have been two months pregnant when they bought her, but the seller, Shawn Putnam, hadn’t told them.

Putnam, however, said he was shocked by the pregnancy, according to Slone’s ruling. Putnam’s Snowstorm had been separated from any male horses before she would have been considered fertile.

Except, that is, for one day when she was about 13 months old.

“He testified that there was an occasion where Putnam’s Snowstorm had managed to escape her enclosure and was found hanging around with a couple of his males. He did not know how this happened,” Slone said in his ruling.

“He testified that he thought she was too young to breed, and that there were no signs that anything had happened, such as unusual energy or agitation on her part or that of the colts. He believed at the time that it was an innocent encounter and only tracing back after the pregnancy was discovered, did he put two and two together and conclude that this must have been the time that she was impregnated.”

Putnam was apologetic and said he felt “morally responsible,” but he and MacKay and Smith could not come to an agreement on a fair compensation.

The two buyers claimed the small claims court’s maximum of $25,000 for breach of contract and negligence, although they said their losses exceeded $99,000, including $57,513 in lost race earnings.

The filly was unable to race for most of the 2018 harness racing season.

“Putnam’s Snowstorm was able to resume training late in the 2018 season, and raced in a few events, but the results were poor and no prize money was won,” said Slone. “She is training to race in 2019 but is obviously ineligible to race in events limited to two-year-olds.”

Putnam argued Putnam’s Snowstorm still has a great potential future as a racehorse — and he said she could have had a better 2018 had MacKay and Smith started training her more quickly after she gave birth.

READ MORE: Victoria necropsy on grey whale aims to unlock secrets of its death

Also, he said, buying racehorses is simply a high risk endeavour.

In his ruling, Slone said the purchase had come with a seven-day warranty period — and had she been returned during that period, MacKay and Smith would have had a right to a refund. They could have had the horse checked by a vet, he said.

He said Putnam acted honestly, and was as shocked as anybody by the pregnancy.

“The event that occurred was a fluke, which took all parties by complete surprise,” he said.

He dismissed the claim.

Rob Roberts, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Q & A with Rio Tinto Operations Director

Inflows between July, 2018 and June 2019 has been the second lowest since 1956

Fraser Lake business offers equine therapy to deal with life stressors

The idea is to have diverse businesses that provide more options to residents and tourists says Kim Watt-Senner

Smithers man receives two-year sentence for fatal car crash

Over a year after a fatal crash, a Smithers man has been sentenced to two years plus a day in jail.

First Nations push for massive conservation area in northern B.C.

Includes ancestral areas of three Kaska Dena First Nations, just shy of the B.C.-Yukon border

VIDEO: Rare white killer whale captured by drone near Campbell River

The transient orca has been named Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word that means ‘moon.’

Licence issue delays boozing while cruising on BC Ferries

Planned June launch for alcohol sales delayed

B.C. school mourns after 13-year-old killed by fallen tree on field trip

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

B.C. temporarily halts resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

Students disciplined after anti-LGBTQ signs posted in Kamloops high school

Vessy Mochikas, SD73’s principal for inclusive education, called incident a learning opportunity

‘The Fonz’ gives thumbs up in letter to dyslexic students at B.C. school

Students in Maple Ridge reached out to Henry Winkler after reading one his Zipster books.

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Commercial fishers in B.C. now required to wear life-jackets on deck: WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC reports 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2018

Most Read