A unique colt named Tough Sunday earned some new fans last week at Del Mar when he captured his fourth career win: the horse was born both deaf and blind but recovered his vision to become a racer.
We first brought readers the story of Tough Sunday in January of 2015 when the then-three-year-old had just contested and spectacularly lost the California Cup Derby. Deprived of oxygen during a long and difficult birth, Tough Sunday had symptoms of dummy foal syndrome: he had no nursing instinct and could not see nor hear.
Despite being rushed to the clinic with his dam Sunday Dress, who had rejected the colt as he could not nurse, Tough Sunday made little improvement, and on day five owner Nick Alexander was in the unenviable position of having to make the difficult decision to euthanize the colt — but when he walked past the stall, the horse followed him with his eyes, demonstrating that his vision had started to return.
Tough Sunday did eventually regain full vision, but is still hearing impaired. While his dam did finally accept him, the colt never developed the nursing instinct and was fed by hand. Regardless, he was able to be turned out with the other mares and foals on his farm and developed into a healthy mature horse.
Unbelievably, his story doesn’t end there: Tough Sunday, against all odds, made it to the track for training. Even more impressive, he broke his maiden in his third start, and kept on going from there.
His most recent victory came last Thursday in an allowance optional claimer on five furlongs over turf at Del Mar. The video has been making the rounds on social media with plenty of new fans cheering on Tough Sunday.
While he may never be an Eclipse award winner or multi-million-dollar-earning international champion, Tough Sunday remains an inspiration to us all.