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

WorkBC Chilliwack officially opens doors to its new location

The local centre opened in April and since then hundreds of clients transitioned to employment

OPINION: A brief look at the present and past of Chilliwack federal elections

For those who are new to town, or just haven’t been paying attention

Missing man last seen in Chilliwack Sept. 7

Friends concerned for well-being of 44-year-old Jean Pierre Baril

Chilliwack school board to vote on whether to paint rainbow crosswalk at district office

Scheduled vote at Sept. 17 meeting comes two weeks after city hall said ‘no’ to the idea

VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Mars and Jupiter at the Chilliwack SPCA

These two very social guinea pigs are up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA

Vancouver’s Tristan Connelly shocks the UFC world

Late replacement upsets big favourite Pereira, main event sees Gaethje stop Cerrone in round one

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

‘A real shame’: B.C. MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the industry is in bad shape across the province

Most Read