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

Mission RCMP reminds public to lock car doors

April is Auto Crime Enforcement Month

PHOTOS: Thousands attend Mission Elks Easter Egg Hunt

The quest for candy and chocolate brought out a huge crowd of kids and parents to the family event

Gas prices in Metro Vancouver hit 172.9 cents a litre

And one analyst expects it to only go higher this week

PHOTOS:Menopause rhe Musical comes to Mission

Comedy plays to a full house at the Clarke Theatre

Mission theatre troupe presents Age of Arousal

Opening Nite Theatre Society tackles thought-provoking Canadian play

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

Anti-SOGI activist slams ban on B.C. dad speaking out about transgender son’s case

A judge has told the father to stop publicly objecting to his son’s gender

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Victims injured in Lower Mainland deck collapse ranged from 15 to 83 years old

Victim Services staff have reached out to those hurt and their families

‘Ghost restaurants’ cooked up by Joseph Richard Group to meet demand of delivered food

The new Meal Ticket Brands venture aims to ‘disrupt’ the local restaurant industry

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Torched SUV linked to Vancouver’s fourth homicide

Manoj Kumar, 30, was found dead from gunshot wounds in the Kitsilano neighbourhood

Multiple sailing waits as BC Ferries deals with Easter Monday traffic

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Ex-mayor of northern village claims its drivers are overpaying ICBC $1,800 a year

Darcy Repen says data shows Telkwa households are being ripped off for car insurance

Most Read