Magical Albert, the subject of two books chronicling his miraculous journey through life as a foal born premature through emergency Caesarian section, has been retired by his connections.
A son of Mach Three and millionaire pacing mare Illusionist, Magical Albert was a 130-pound foal born in 2014 at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Ont. The pressure he was unknowingly placing on his dam's abdomen wall as an unborn foal was life-threatening for both mare and foal.
“In this particular case, it was like going to Hawaii and seeing a new volcano being formed,” recalled Dr. Luis Arroyo in a TROT Magazine feature. “Our reproduction team assessed her and we had suspicions about a rupture of her prepubic tendon and by Wednesday, there was a bulging occurring and that’s when we had to make a quick decision to take her into surgery and perform a C-section.”
After a risky three-hour surgery, the foal was removed from Illusionist, whose own health was failing due to the internal damage. The foal required a ventilator to breathe, and the mare stood in buckets of ice to help reduce her fever while also needing antibiotics to stave off infection.
Miraculously, and thanks to the medical intervention, both the mare and foal survived. Despite the early separation, they even bonded — not a guarantee in cases like this when the foal and mare aren't able to get acquainted shortly after foaling.
Showing all the determination that propelled him through his early days, Magical Albert then overcame the odds once again to make it to the racetrack and become a racehorse for owners Dave and Renata Lumsden. Developed and trained throughout his career by Anthony Beaton, Magical Albert posted a summary of 12-10-14 over his 101 career starts with $110,000 in earnings.
"He’s nine and still racing pretty well but it’s tough to race him in conditions," Dave told Trot Insider, noting that the Toronto Star's story on Illusionist and Magical Albert was the paper's most liked front page story of 2014. The aforementioned TROT feature, penned by Keith McCalmont, won the award for Best Magazine Article, Print or Online at the 2015 International Media Awards.
The heart-warming tale of the mare and foal also spurred Renata Lumsden to pen two well-received books: The Bounty of Illusionist: The inspirational story of a champion racehorse and her foals in 2017 and Magical Albert: How a Preemie Foal Changed One Couple’s Definition of Family Forever in 2020.
(foal photos of Magical Albert courtesy the University of Guelph Large Animal Clinic; field photo of Magical Albert courtesy Renata Lumsden)