by Victoria Howard
Dr. Nena Winand’s first memory of horses is when her father took her to Penn State where they had a program on breeding Percherons.
“My family was not involved in the sport of harness racing, and I didn’t grow up in the business, so seeing first hand this huge, awesome animal was a big treat for me,” she said.
“My family would often visit the various livestock breeding programs that Penn State offered because it was ‘free entertainment’ for my parents and their four children.
“Right from the start I was totally captivated by horses. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to own one, so my exposure to them was limited. I am sure my passion for rescuing horses today started as a result of my wishing and hoping for a horse every single Christmas. Unfortunately, my dream wouldn’t become a reality until I was 42 years old.
“One thing I give my parents credit for is instilling in me and my siblings the idea that animals or pets were an important life-long responsibility, which has truly shaped my career and life,” said Winand.
It would be years before Winand would get involved in harness racing.
“Social media is a great tool to locate someone you have lost contact with. Although some people say Facebook can be a little too prying into your personal affairs, it isn’t as bad as they think, for it was there that I reconnected with my former veterinary classmate and friend, Barbara Krauss Roland in 2018. Barbara filled me in on the years we were apart and informed me she was now married to trainer/driver, Royal Roland, who raced horses mainly in Iowa.
“Although I had ridden with a veterinarian that did work at Hanover Shoe Farms and had seen the breeding aspect, as well as treating standardbreds during veterinary school, up until then I had never personally attended a harness race.
“Barbara informed me I could watch the Iowa fair circuit races live on Facebook. When I did, I was in awe, for what better way to get acquainted with this thrilling sport than watching a fair race? After all, who doesn’t love fair racing?
“My friend encouraged me to become a member of the Iowa Harness Horsemen’s Association and I am still a member today.
“I followed the Iowa horses avidly and still do when time permits, and Barbara’s husband, Royal, has pretty much been a voice of reason and temperance in my racing involvement,” Winand said.
Winand was born in Bellefonte, PA and raised in State College, PA. She attended the Iowa State University College of Veterinary School, earning a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and then went on to get a Master’s in Veterinary Science with an emphasis on immunology from Penn State University. Winand took a job in research at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and graduated from veterinary school in 1986.
After graduating, she moved to Ithaca, NY, where she completed a pathology residency and PhD in Medical Genetics at Cornell Veterinary medicine and was hired as a faculty member.
Today, Dr. Nena and her husband live in Groton, NY.
“In 2005, my husband and I purchased a 15-acre farm where we live with our horses. We bought the farm for at that time I owned two horses and it was ideal having them live at home, rather than boarding them somewhere.
“Presently I own 11 horses — all retired except for one youngster — and provide all their personal care and needs. I’ve ridden and shown hunt seat and reining horses, and have a retired show horse from each of those disciplines here. However, I’d been bitten by harness racing and was determined to one day own a racehorse.
“In addition to my five retired horses, I adopted Winners Only (Credit Winner—Only Dreaming) from the Morrisville College Foundation when she was retired from breeding. In 2019, I rescued Archangel Hanover (Credit Winner—Angel Pie) and brought him here to live out his life, and in December 2020 I did the same for Lady Mattgalane (Artscape—Mary Mattgalane) as well as the foal that was growing inside her.
“It was 2019 when my life-long dream of owning and racing a racehorse would come true. I partnered with Winners Circle Racing LLC, Joseph M. Dougherty, and trainer, Kimberly Gilman-Daios, on a yearling filly. We subsequently added three more yearling fillies: one trotter and two pacers to the Gilman Stable at Vernon, NY.
“The 2- and 3-year-old fillies will race at the County Fair and Excelsior events this season and we will continue to race the 4-year-old in overnights. I additionally partnered with Winners Circle Racing, John A. Campagnuolo and trainers Rob and Patti Harmon on a trotting gelding named Itsonlymoneyhoney (Iowa circuit) in 2020. I had followed the horse’s career as a 2- and 3-year-old in Iowa and it was great to be able to partner on him. He has been racing successfully out East and is currently at Tioga Downs.”
Let’s talk about Lady Mattgalane.
“Matty is the real Superstar Female of harness racing — not me. It was December 23, 2020 when I received a message from Liz Ingersoll who runs Vindonah Horse Shelter in Beaver Dams, NY. about a standardbred mare a dealer had intercepted before going to a low-end auction.
“The rescue did not have the funds to buy her, but as luck would have it, our gelding Itsonlymoneyhoney had just won two races at Chester — on December 11th and again on my birthday, December 18th — and was in to race on Christmas Eve, and won again! I call it all a miracle and the best birthday present I ever had for I gave the money we won to the rescue to buy the mare.”
Lady Mattgalane is by Artiscape out of Mary Mattgalane. She earned $378,257 at 2 and 3 and took a mark of 1:51 at 3. Her stake wins as a 2-year-old included the Eternal Camnation, Countess Adios, She’s A Great Lady elimination, and a NJSS leg.
“As a 3-year-old Mattie won the NJSS final, the Ladyship, The Tarport Hap and the Miss New Jersey elimination. It was heartbreaking that she was a really good racehorse and ended up pulling a buggy. Lucky for Mattie (and me) a dealer noticed her pulling the buggy despite her lameness. He followed her home and purchased Mattie from her owner for she was too lame for roadwork anymore. Her owner told the dealer he had bred her to one of his Percheron stallions, but believed she was barren.
“When Mattie arrived at Vindonah for quarantine, a vet examined her revealing she was emaciated, and the ex-rays showed not only an old untreated P1 fracture with advanced arthritis, but a new full P1 fracture. Further testing confirmed she was indeed in foal and the vet said Mattie needed 5 plus months total stall rest, which didn’t sit well with her for she hated being alone in a stall.
“That’s when I adopted Mattie and moved her to my farm for grass turnout. We started her on a re-feeding diet, wormed and vaccinated her. When her udder started to develop she was moved to Cornell Equine Research Park on June 8th to foal. We weren’t sure her exact due date, but watched her closely. She spent the summer at Cornell and finally foaled a big, dark bay colt on August 1 during an all-day deluge.
“We named the colt Weather Tracker aka/Cantore after meteorologist Jim Cantore. Cantore is now 9 ½ months old and has started training for trail riding and fox hunting. I am committed to giving them both the best care possible.
“This year Mattie was bred to New York stallion So Surreal for I believe she deserves a shot at throwing a fast, gutsy racehorse like she was.
“Mattie now spends her days in my large pasture with her girlfriends Winners Only and Ruffs Summer Wages (retired broodmares) and Archangel Hanover. She gets around fine and is very happy, active and fit.”