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From racehorse to pet: The story of Spot the Diplomat

December 1, 2010 | 10:49 pm

SpotTheDiplomat For some, a racehorse's worth can be summed up in a dollar amount -- prize winnings, successful bets, even stud fees. But Times sports columnist Bill Dwyre recently told the story of a family who views their own racehorse in very different -- and much better, if you ask us -- terms.

This horse, a thoroughbred with the unusual name Spot the Diplomat (it reminds one of Santa's Little Helper from "The Simpsons," doesn't it?), wasn't a big winner on the racetrack. His odds were respectable enough -- total winnings: $342,231 -- but he really came into his own after a sesamoid fracture permanently ended his racing career.

Spot was sent to rehabilitate at a farm in Riverside County. Around the same time, Grant and Greta Hays of L.A. began considering a change of scene to better suit the needs of their two young sons, Jack and Dylan, both of whom are severely autistic. A visit to a Texas horse ranch last year made a big impression on the boys. "Jack speaks no words," Grant Hays explained, "but we got off the plane and he turned to me and said, 'Texas.' I was stunned."

So the family made plans to move to Texas and looked into adding a horse to their family. As it happened, Grant knew Bob Ike, a partner in Summit Racing, the company that owned Spot. Spot moved to Texas, and the rest is history. "In Los Angeles, we were a stressed-out family," Hays told Dwyre. "Now, we are all happy. The boys are constantly with Spot. They play around him, ride him, sometimes sit on him for two or three hours at a time."

Learn more about Spot's new career as a much-loved pet in Dwyre's recent column.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Dylan Hays sits atop Spot the Diplomat. Photo courtesy of the Hays family

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