“I have known Stephanie Brennan for 30 years. We galloped together at Keeneland and even back then she was ‘saving the world.’ The puppy she adopted, called Bernie, was a throwaway. A difficult horse she galloped, called Big Bet, was rehomed. He ended up becoming a Three Day Event horse.
She is the woman behind the man at Niall Brennan Stable, always with a foot on the pedal, but never seeking the limelight. Her dogs and horses are her go to people. She even had their old dog Albert walk her down the aisle on their wedding day! And that was a part of their marriage going forward, where every stray dog or reject has a home with them forever, be it for a few weeks or a few years. We all know about her foundation called Final Furlong which finds good homes for graduates of the Niall Brennan program or owners associated with them. It is self-sustaining and has many success stories. And when you drive into the home farm you see the field of retirees in all their glory thundering around to their life’s content. This is her legacy to the horses that she loves.
Documenting her four-footed friends is relatively easy, but what she has quietly done for so many people over the years might never be fully uncovered. Apart from her huge commitment to the Ocala Farm Ministry, which has changed the lives of so many people in our horse industry, she has picked up many people by their bootstraps and, in that direct way of hers, set them on their path. This included me. I am forever indebted. Her ability to fix things has comprised young people with no direction, older people with health issues, or just someone who needs a helping hand in their work or personal lives. She is like the Jack Russells she loves when on a project. It might be a subtle nudge or it might be a push, but she will always hit her target! She has the uncanny ability to connect the dots between random people and situations in need. And, she has given so many people the fortitude/resilience/confidence to believe! All of this, without wanting any fanfare whatsoever. In fact, don’t dare tell anyone under pain of exorcism from her circle! People might think she actually has a soft side, LOL..
Her nickname in my phone is Stephie Sunshine for a reason – she offers people a path to the light. All of this is done without her missing a beat in the balance of her everyday life. Isn’t that the definition of a life well lived, that you make a difference in other peoples worlds?? She has certainly done that in spades…….in my book she is a true SheHero!”
- Marette Farrell – Exhale Enterprises Bloodstock
“Stephanie is one of the most kind-hearted, loving and caring animal people you’ll ever find! She likes a few humans too….hahaha! An unbelievably hard worker, always has a smile on her face and is always willing to help somebody, pitching in whatever it takes. She’s a great friend and I admire her immensely. She’s a super hero!”
- Allison McGaughey – Claude R. McGaughey Racing Stable
“Stephanie Brennan is a well-respected horsewoman, businesswoman, and Thoroughbred industry professional. Her love, care, and dedication to horses and dogs is evident from the moment you meet her. She created Final Furlong horse rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming with her husband Niall. Final Furlong is a Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) accredited program that has been a success and a great resource to the industry for over 10 years. Stephanie keeps herself fully immersed in all aspects of the game from breaking, sales, training, racing and retirement. She is a great person, and I’m lucky to call Stephanie a friend.”
- Cate Masterson – Director, National Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame
“Her bark is louder than her bite. Funny that, as she is the biggest-hearted person I know. Especially if you are of the four-legged variety, there has never been a lame/sick horse or a dog in need of a home that has ever been refused at the Brennan household. Steph’s work with the chaplaincy in Ocala, Florida has also put her on a short list of people who do wonderful things. In summation, if you ever need help of any kind, call Steph. Just don’t tell her I told you!
She truly is one of a kind.”
- Zoe Cadman – Racing Analyst and Host, XBTV
“I would consider Steph a very good friend. She is the kind of friend you don’t need to talk to all the time but you know she has your back if you need anything. She has a tough exterior but a huge heart.
She is devoted to her horses and all of her other four-legged friends. And then there is Niall! It would be unusual to stay with her if there were less than 8 dogs in the house. The Ocala dog rescue has her on speed dial and she will never say no to a new furry friend. Every morning she is out of bed shortly after 4am to feed and do the rounds on her own farm before going to work at the training center with Niall. There she can be found on the track watching over the 2-year-olds riding one of her paint ponies, Rugby or Bentley.
Once training is finished, she assumes her role in the office doing sales entries, billing and making sure the business is running smoothly. She works tirelessly to make sure their old horses do not go down the wrong path at the racetrack. She has rescued and re-homed countless horses and works closely with van companies and other suppliers to get them out of obscure places hundreds of miles away back into her Final Furlong Retirement Program. She will spend hours on her own farm caring for these horses if they have injuries or are compromised in some way or other.
You will not see too many new human faces working for her. The same people have been there as long as I have known her. A true testament to Stephanie. She has also been a huge supporter of the Ocala Farm Ministry over the years raising money to help and educate families who work in our industry.”
- Jane Buchanan – Racing Manager, Herringswell Stables
“I have known Stephanie for over 15 years and am continually amazed by her absolute love and concern for the care and well being of animals, especially horses and dogs. A visit to her home demonstrates this clearly, as a herd of dogs of all shapes and sizes rush your vehicle as you approach. Pastures on both sides of the driveway are filled with retired racehorses that she rehabilitates and re-homes through her non-profit Final Furlong program. She started this incredible program single-handedly and somehow finds the time and energy to run one of the most successful programs of its type while also working full time as Niall’s partner in their training and two-year-old sales business.
In addition to those enormous undertakings, Steph is on the board of the Ocala Farm Ministry and spends countless hours organizing our annual fundraising “Call to the Post“ dinner and auction. This is held during the busiest time of the year for those of us in the two-year-old in training sales game, during the OBS April sale. I have had the honor of assisting Steph with running the auction and must say the success we have had over the past 12 years is largely due to Steph’s organizational skills. She has an incredible eye for detail and follow-up, and although each year we question our sanity in this undertaking, we always end up thoroughly enjoying the actual event. Stephanie’s sense of humor and caustic wit (along with a bottle or two of Sauvignon Blanc) help keep us laughing through our tears.
Stephanie truly is a hero, and this honor is justly deserved and has been hard earned. Everyday she works diligently to improve the lives of Thoroughbreds, dogs, and the people that she comes in contact with. I feel truly blessed to call her my friend.”
- Jacqui de Meric – de Meric Thoroughbred Sales
“Well let’s see……we have to go back to the summer of 1996 in Saratoga, that’s where Steph and I first crossed paths. She stepped right in when I was having visa issues, got all the paperwork done, and I was sorted!
Since then, I’ve seen Steph on and off throughout the years, but fast forward to 2019 until present, I’ve been working with her. She is obviously an intricate part of the sales season, and she and Rugby are a regular sight on the track at the farm where she can watch and get to know sale horses better, and maybe catch a loose one!
Alongside that is her non-profit, Final Furlong. After any Niall Brennan graduates finish their racing careers, she will try to retrain and rehome them. There are also six long-term residents on the farm. Not to forget about the menagerie of dogs, horses and a donkey at her home she is always busy which is exactly as she likes it. And back to the visa….she is now the poor person who has to get around 40 per year, no small task.
So well done to Steph and all she does for her four-legged friends.”
- Vicki King – Niall Brennan Stables
“Stephanie Brennan and I have been friends for over 15 years. Most days you can find her on her trusty pony horse leading out the current years juvenile horses at Niall Brennan Stables. She is one of the most generous, hardworking horsewomen I know. As anyone knows, it takes a village to help someone, fix a problem, or to operate in our horse industry. Well, Stephanie is the fearless leader of this village, leaving no stone unturned. She is also amazing at cultivating, teaching and placing young people in our industry. She coordinates an awesome auction every year to benefit the local church.
She is passionate about Thoroughbred aftercare with her Final Furlong program. She goes to great lengths to secure horses in trouble, rehabilitate horses in need and places them so properly. My own personal pony horse lived out his life with Stephanie in the utmost of care and happiness, never wanting anything. That’s Stephanie, whether it’s a four-legged creature or a human she will do anything for them. I’m proud to call her my friend and love how she keeps us all together having fun and laughing in good and bad situations. I’ve always admired Stephanie’s endurance and grace in all she takes on.
Stephanie is a SheHero.”
- Britt Wadsworth – Mahoney Eden Manor LLC
“Asked to write a tribute for Stephanie Brennan, hard work, loyalty and dedication are the first words that come to mind. She is well known for her consummate skill as a horsewoman, the backbone of her husband Niall’s business and a staunch supporter of off track Thoroughbreds. Most of our shared time is spent in Saratoga during her very short window of ‘down time’ away from her farm and the sales.
Evident on our daily morning dog walk is her memory and knowledge of every single horse that has ever passed through their hands as revealed while visiting with friends, clients and horses along the way. She is unique in how her life is spent working hard preparing young horses for their racing career and then helping to secure a comfortable life for them once their racing career is over.
I am extremely grateful for Stephanie’s commitment to our industry and the sheer determination she reveals every single day to accomplish this and so much more.”
- Tracy Attfield – TLore
“Stephanie’s passion for animals and, in particular, horses is admirable and inspiring. She has been a huge advocate for Racehorse Retirement projects, and over the last ten years has placed over 150 horses in new homes and careers through Final Furlong, the non-profit charity she established. She follows every horse that goes through our program, and has even claimed some horses back that were running at the bottom at tracks I hadn’t even heard of, just to give them a second chance at a good life. Pretty unique!!”
- Niall Brennan