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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Northern Development launches new community development programs

The new programs are part of the launch of Trust 2020

Quesnel Lions Club’s fundraising takes pandemic hit

Club president Brent Oxenbury says their annual fundraising draw sales are drastically down in 2020

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

BC VOTES 2020: Voter registration closes Saturday, Sept. 26

Voters can still register or update their information when they vote, but it will take longer

“I should be in school” — Quesnel alternate school students protest classroom removals

McNaughton Centre students took to the streets to protest on Sept. 24

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read