After the Breeders’ Cup World Championships have come and gone, news of retirements start to pour from every media outlet, and we are forced to say good-bye to some of our favorite race horses. 2009 was a remarkable year for horse racing, and with 2010 just around the corner, many of our stars will be taking their taking their career bows and be setting off into the sunset for the breeding shed. The following is a list of graded stakes-winners that have run their last race; they will be greatly missed, and we wish them much success in their new careers.
Better Talk Now: The 10-year-old gelding and earner of $4.35 million in purse money was retired after sustaining an injury in the suspensory ligament of his left hind leg while training up for the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont. Better Talk Now won 14 of 51 career starts, including the 2004 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf. Trainer Graham Motion says Better Talk Now would remain at Fair Hill “for the foreseeable future.”
Cocoa Beach: Chilean-bred Cocoa Beach won Grade I victories with the Beldame and Matriarch Stakes, and was a proven contender on dirt, turf, and synthetics. She finished second to Zenyatta in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.
Colonel John: Winner of the 2008 Santa Anita Derby and Travers, Colonel John won 6 of 15 starts and banked $1,779,012. A winner on dirt, turf, and synthetics, Colonel John proved to be a versatile horse that was usually backed as a favorite in whatever kind of race he was entered. Colonel John will stand with his sire, Tiznow, at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Kentucky.
Commentator: The 8-year-old New York-bred gelding won the Grade I Whitney twice, and earned $2,049,845; he won 14 of 24 lifetime starts, 8 of the victories were stakes races. He was paraded at Saratoga this past September for the fans one last time and a New York-bred stakes race was named in his honor. Commentator now resides at Old Friends in Lexington, Kentucky.
Conduit: Back-to-back winner of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf, Conduit will stand at Big Red Farm in Hokkaido, Japan next year. Conduit competed in the top level in Europe, America, and Japan, won 7 of 15 starts, and earned $5,378,357.
Icon Project: The 4-year-old rising star was retired after a tendon injury following her scintillating Grade I Personal Ensign victory, which she won by 13 ½ lengths. She is retired with 4 wins and a bank roll of $660,965.
Indian Blessing: Undefeated at age 2, Indian Blessing finished first or second in 15 of 16 starts, and earned $2,995,420. She won the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2007 and was voted champion 2-year-old female of 2007 and champion female sprinter of 2008. Indian Blessing will live at the farm where she was born, Hill ‘n Dale Farm, near Lexington, Kentucky. She has been booked to Zensational.
Kip Deville: Winner of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2007, Kip Deville was retired after battling colic and other ailments for over a year. He retires as the all-time biggest money earner for an Oklahoma-bred, winning 12 of 30 starts, and earning $3,325,489.
Kodiak Kowboy: Going out a winner, Kodiak Kowboy ended his career with a victory in the Cigar Mile, his third Grade I victory of 2009. Canada’s 2-year-old champion male of 2007, Kodiak Kowboy won 11 of 23 starts and earned $1,663,363. He will stand at Vinery Stud in Kentucky for $12,500 in 2010.
Mastercraftsman: Hailed as one of the best turf milers in the world, the 3-year-old gray has been retired after finishing the beaten favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Winner of 7 of 12 career starts, including the 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh and the St. James Palace Stakes, Mastercraftsman earned $1,731,438.
Mi Sueno: This up-and-coming 2-year-old filly was retired after sustaining a condylar fracture in her right front cannon bone during a workout at Del Mar. Mi Sueno raced four times, finishing second in her first two, and winning her last two, including the Grade I Darley Debutante Stakes at Del Mar.
Monba: The 2008 Blue Grass Stakes winner was retired after a hind-leg injury after finishing fourth behind Einstein in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap. Monba won 3 of 10 career starts, and $669,034.
Music Note: Winner of 7 of 12 starts, Music Note was a dominating filly the first half of her career, winning four races in a row before losing by a head to the champion Proud Spell in an Alabama Stakes for the ages. She has been retired after finishing 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic two years in a row.
Old Fashioned: Winner of the 2008 Remsen Stakes and the 2009 Southwest Stakes, Old Fashioned was retired after finishing second in the Arkansas Derby with a non-displaced slab fracture sustained in the race. He will stand at Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Pioneerof the Nile: Winner of 4 consecutive graded stakes, including the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, and finishing second in this year’s Kentucky Derby, Pioneerof the Nile was retired after sustaining a soft tissue injury in his right front leg. He will stand at Vinery Stable near Lexington, Kentucky for $20,000.
Pyro: Nabbing his first Grade I victory this year in the Forego at Saratoga, Pyro finishes his career with 5 wins in 16 races, an earner of more than $1.6 million. The hard-knocking Pyro was dragged through synthetics time and time again, even when he showed a distaste for the fake stuff; only twice did he finish out of the money when on a dirt surface. Pyro won a memorable Risen Star Stakes in his 3-year-old debut with an explosive last-to-first victory. The son of Pulpit will stand at Darley in Lexington, Kentucky in 2010.
Sea the Stars: The Cartier Horse of the Year was retired at the age of 3 after a commanding victory in the Group I Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, capping off a perfect 6-for-6 season; he won the Group I Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket and the Group I Epsom Derby, among other stakes; as a 2-year-old, he won 2 of 3 starts, including the Group III Juddmonte Beresford Stakes. Sea the Stars is considered to be one of the greatest European race horses of all time; he will stand at stud in 2010 at the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud in Ireland for a fee of $128,000.
Seventh Street: The upset winner of the 2009 Apple Blossom, Seventh Street also won the Grade I Go For Wand at Belmont Park. The filly won 5 out of 10 races and was retired after finishing 8th in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.
Tale of Ekati: Winner of 5 of 15 starts, including last year’s Grade I Wood Memorial and the Grade I Cigar Mile, Tale of Ekati was retired after three consecutive dull performances. He will stand at Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky.
Ventura: Ventura went out a sensational winner in the Grade I Matriarch at Hollywood Park November 28, scoring a poignant win for the late great trainer, Bobby Frankel, while setting a new stakes record; it was Frankel’s dying wish that Ventura run her last race in the Matriarch, a race the trainer won 8 times prior. Ventura won 10 of 21 starts, including five Grade Is and $2,580,530. The 5-year-old mare beat the boys in the Grade I Woodbine Mile this past September. Ventura will return to her birthplace, Juddmonte Farm in Kentucky, to start her new career as a broodmare.
Zensational: The sensational sprinter is a winner of 5 of 8 starts, including three Grade I stakes in a row. Zensational will stand at Hill ‘n Dale Farm near Lexington, Kentucky for $25,000.
Zenyatta: The only horse to have won two different Breeders’ Cup races, the undefeated mare went out a champion in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic when she faced males for the first time, and became the first female to win the Classic. Recently, the Grade I Lady’s Secret Stakes (which Zenyatta won twice) was renamed the Zenyatta Stakes in her honor. Zenyatta’s record stands at 14-14, earning $5,474,580. She will make her last public appearance in a ceremony at Santa Anita Park on opening day, December 26th, before shipping to Kentucky to begin her new career as a broodmare.
Einstein: Though there hasn’t been an official word for his retirement, the Grade II Clark was slated to be Einstein’s last race after his previously scheduled final race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, turned into a flop for the 7-year-old horse. A Grade I winner on turf and synthetics, and a graded stakes winner on dirt, Einstein finished out his career with 11 wins in 30 starts and earned nearly $3 million.
I Want Revenge: The winner of the Grade III Gotham and Grade I Wood Memorial has not been placed back into training, and no word has been made of his recovery since an MRI revealed an injury in the colt’s right front sesamoid ligament the morning of the Kentucky Derby, where he was installed as the 3-1 favorite. I Want Revenge won 3 of 8 career starts; originally based in California, it wasn’t until the Stephen Got Even colt touched dirt for the first time he found an explosive turn of foot.
Rip Van Winkle: No word has come on the fate of the heavily-backed European invader who was trounced in the Breeders’ Cup Classic by American girl Zenyatta. A winner of 4 of 8 lifetime starts and earner of $915,117, Rip Van Winkle was considered second-best only to Sea the Stars in Europe, winning the Group I BGC Sussex Stakes and Queen II Elizabeth Stakes.
Summer Bird: Originally targeted toward the Grade I Japan Cup Dirt this Saturday and a 2010 campaign, Summer Bird was scratched from the race after trainer Tim Ice noticed the colt returned lame from a workout at Hanshin Race Course in Japan. Winner of the three Grade I races this year, including the Belmont Stakes, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, Summer Bird is the leading candidate for 3-year-old male of the year. After a chip is removed from his ankle, Summer Bird’s connections will make the decision whether or not to keep the champion in training.
Though many of our favorite horses won’t see a racetrack in 2010, there are several that will be lighting up the tote boards come the new year. The following are graded stakes winners who will be back for more. Are you ready?
Will Race in 2010
Capt. Candyman Can
Crown of Thorns
Denis of Cork
El Gato Malo
Life is Sweet
Lookin at Lucky
Mambo in Seattle
Mine That Bird
Wow Wow Wow