Alum’s three-legged goats dominate annual goat race

Christina Vittoria, V'00, raises awareness for amputee animals in a fun way.

On May 5, Simon, a three-legged goat owned by veterinarian Christina Vittoria, V00, and brewer Colin Presby won the annual Sly Fox Brewing Company’s goat race in Phoenixville, Pa. Following in the hoof prints of his three-legged life partner and two-time Sly Fox champion, Peggy, Simon raced against her and 53 four-legged goats to bring home the win. This year marks the third time in this event’s history that the goat race was won by an amputee.

When Simon was a month old, his elbow was broken by a bigger goat. Although it was just rough play, that injury changed his life: Simon was owned by a goat dairy and his owners couldn’t afford to amputate his leg. Luckily, Vittoria and Presby were friends with the owners and looking for a suitable companion for Peggy, their three-legged goat. They agreed to adopt Simon and give him the care that he needed.

For the past two years, Simon has been Peggy’s constant companion, supporting her through her 2011 and 2012 wins at Sly Fox. But in the fall of 2012, he entered the Falmouth Goat Race to try his hoof at running. After winning every preliminary heat, Vittoria says he choked in the semi-finals—running out of the racetrack, taking out poles and three small children in the process! Despite that setback, he finished the race in third place.

This year, Vittoria says Simon was no longer content to just watch Peggy race Sly Fox. Since Presby was running Peggy, Vittoria asked her good friend and avid runner, Jeremy Drey, to race Simon. Earlier in the day, it looked like Peggy would advance to the finals, but she got bottlenecked in one of her races and couldn’t recover. (This year would have been her three-peat win on three feet.) Instead Simon went on to advance to the finals, emerging victorious against the fastest four-legged goats of the day.

"A lot of people are afraid to amputate their animal’s legs. They’d rather put them down," said Vittoria, who practices equine, small ruminant and companion animal medicine at Willow Creek Veterinary Center in Reading, Pa. "We’re here showing people that not only can your animal live a normal life, they can race… and win!"

Since Simon won, he may have stopped an early retirement for Peggy. "We were thinking about retiring her if she won this race, going out on the three-peat," Presby said. "Now, I think she’s going to be coming back next year."

Peggy remains the favorite goat at Sly Fox, with green Team Peggy shirts dominating the crowd. She does have some friendly rivalry with Team Simon shirts sporting "There’s another three-legged goat in town!" written on the back.

Team Simon and Team Peggy race for the same cause: the Humane Society of Berks County. Over the last few years, proceeds from Team Peggy T-shirt and flying-disc sales has raised more than $6,500 in funds to help neglected animals. Peggy and Simon also have made guest appearances at bars from Philadelphia to Rochester, N.Y., to promote awareness of the shelter and quality of life for animal amputees. Follow both teams at Facebook.com/TeamPeggy.