Genuine horsepower: Man buys mare at car auction

Feb. 21, 2012 at 6:07 PM ET

Dennis Clark /
Peter Vitulli is the proud new owner of a 5-year-old mare named Sheza Heartbreaker.

By Michelle Leifer

Impulse buys are common at auctions: It’s not unusual for a buyer to walk in intending to purchase a painting, only to fall in love with a sculpture instead. But what Peter Vitulli ended up with was a horse of a different color.

On Valentine’s Day, the Long Island, N.Y., businessman went to a car auction planning to pick up an old set of wheels — and walked out with a 5-year old thoroughbred mare named Sheza Heartbreaker.

“It was a different kind of horsepower that was being auctioned off,” Vitulli told the New York Post.

When auctioneer Richard Maltz announced to the 150 prospective car buyers that he had a horse for sale, they laughed. “It was definitely out of the ordinary,” Maltz told the New York Post.

But Vitulli, who has owned and raced horses in the past, saw the horse’s potential right away. He outbid three other men to buy Heartbreaker for $16,000 — and now he hopes she’ll lead him to the winner’s circle.

The Kentucky-bred horse has a successful record, winning more than $100,000 since she began racing last year. Her previous owner lost her in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings.

Although Heartbreaker has a bad ankle, Vitulli is confident that with a hefty amount of TLC, she’ll be back on track.

“They’re animals and they need a lot of love,” he said. “If they’re happy, they’re going to run.”

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