Thursday, August 11, 2011

You Must Be 5 Years Old To Enjoy This Ride...

My friends at Pull The Pocket and View From The Racetrack Grandstand have both blogged about the bold move made by the Hambletonian Society which stipulates that commencing in 2018, no horse will be eligible to race in the premiere event, unless they are sired by a horse five years or older.  In all honesty, this is a rule that should be implemented in both the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries - any race, any horse, all the time.  Too big of a request?  I think not.  Darryl Kaplan, editor for Trot Magazine, discusses Somebeachsomewhere's retirement;

"Two days before the Cup, I spoke to co-owner and trainer Brent McGrath.  It was no secret that the ownership team were at the time being wooed by North America's top breeders, whom for obvious reasons, had little desire to see Beach race beyond 2008.

I asked McGrath, 'With a deal likely imminent that would have Somebeachsomewhere retiring at three, how many track, horsemen or industry groups have approached you to negotiate what it would take to keep this horse racing next year?'

Brent paused and responded, 'You're the first one to mention it."' 

Somebeachsomewhere was three-years-old, and in his prime when he was whisked away out of sight.  On average, he brought 8,000 fans to the racetrack to watch him compete each time out, and when doing the quick math, equates to approximately 168,000 fans and potential fans who would have seen him on the track.  I should know, I was one of them - standing on my feet cheering for him at the Little M (Mohawk) when he screamed across the wire winning the 2008 Pepsi North America Cup in 1:49 flat.  To this day, my complimentary Somebeach poster still hangs on the wall of the racing room, and each time I look at it I think what could have been.  The "Monster of the Maritimes" is sorely missed.

Somebeachsomewhere Poster

Each year we hold our breath waiting to see if this will be the year that a horse captures the Triple Crown, and each year, we know in the back of our minds that if this happens, the very next day that horse will be shuttled off to the breeding shed - it's all about the Benjamins - sad, but true. 

When Calvin Borel threaded the eye of a needle with Street Sense in the 2007 Kentucky Derby and claimed the blanket of roses we all thought that this duo was headed for great things in the future - great things for the industry.  They continued on the Triple Crown path but fell short in the Preakness, by a nose, to eventual HOY Curlin, and it was then that they decided to bypass the Belmont Stakes altogether.  In June of 2007 Tafel sold Street Sense's breeding rights to Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Darley Stud, but the Street Cry phenom raced up and until the Breeders' Cup Classic in October of that same year.  Again, he fell short, placing fourth on a sloppy track at Monmouth, and on Tuesday, October 30, 2007, his retirement was announced.  Another one bites the dust...or, the dirt.

Calvin Borel & Street Sense

The list of potential 4-year-old standardbred superstars would have been astronomical if they all would have remained on the track - fan bases would have grown - the industry would have prospered.  Below, are just of few of the great ones that left us way too early:

Somebeachsomewhere - Well Said - Muscle Massive - Major In Art - Federal Flex - Holiday Road - Yankee Glide - If I Can Dream - Shark Gesture - Sir Luck - Cams Card Shark - Grinfromeartoear - Rocknroll Hanover

I do believe that these were all three-year-olds when they left the track, however, I could be wrong and if so, please do not hesitate to correct me.

In conclusion: 

While we're at it, if the industry is going to start implementing rules, we might as well add that in order to be eligible for a Hall Of Fame induction, one must also be five years or older.  Plausible?  If not, tell me why.

However, I believe that what the Hambo Society has done is a beautiful step in the right direction - SOMEONE has to do something soon because thinking outside the "box" will ensure that the standardbred industry never ends up being backed into one of the box's many corners...

Stay safe, keep your hooves on the ground, and keep reaching for the wire!


  1. I agree and I'm very excited that we might be seeing horses racing longer. I love the older horses like Arch Madness and Shark Gesture, who retired, then came back and kicked but. They make racing classy.

  2. Hi Isabelle!

    Did Shark Gesture come back? I wasn't sure, but I'm glad he did! We need to keep them on the track longer for sure!!


  3. Hi!
    I think he retired at 3 for stud, but didn't do a great job, so they brought him back, and then he retired last year after doing some pretty massive miles - track record at Tioga Downs, etc. He's my favorite-so classy!

  4. Yes Isabelle he is all class, and I believe he is now standing stud at Walnridge Farm in Pennsylvania. His 2011 stud fee is a modest $7000.