CICERO, Ill. - He may never run for the Kentucky Derby roses, but Illinois race horse Magna Fortuna and his owners are celebrating a victory none-the-less - his survival.

The 3-year-old gelding's name means "great luck," and he was a long shot when he won a recent race at Hawthorne Race Course outside Chicago.

His mother Lulu was purchased for $300 at a slaughter auction by Gail Vacca, founder and president of the Illinois Equine Rescue Center. Vacca found out later that Lulu was pregnant when purchased.

After the foal was born, Vacca traced his lineage back to an impressive sire - a $2.58 million career stakes winner.

Vacca and others from the equine center formed a partnership, Rescue Me Racing, and some of Magna Fortuna's winnings go back to the rescue.

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