This weekend was a great weekend for the grand old horses. It seemed like all over the continent, older horses were showing the younger ones just what they could aspire to someday.
Ten-year-old Four Left Feet won at Arlington on Monday. (Go here, make sure you’ve allowed Flash for this website, and watch Monday, May 28, Race 1. You won’t be sorry.) His female family excels in terms of durability, and his Memorial Day victory was Four Left Feet’s second in three starts this year — and his twelfth win in 78 career starts.
War Diamond, a daughter of War Front (a sire with so many good younger runners), didn’t make her first start until she was five. In Monday’s Arlington 7th, only her third lifetime start, she fought gamely and shed her maiden label. It sounds like she takes a bit more from her female family. After all, War Front didn’t race past age four. But, her dam Snow Diamond is a full sister to Fort Prado: 18-for-59 in a career that ran from ages two through eight, a multiple graded stakes winner at five, and a multiple stakes winner at eight. The only other Snow Diamond to race didn’t emerge until rather late as well: Snow Mesa (Sky Mesa) debuted at three and graduated second-out at four. (The third, Sister Mary Cletus, is a Declaration of War two-year-old who isn’t on the worktab yet.) But, if War Diamond continues to follow in her sister’s late-blooming footsteps, she may have a thing to say in the allowance ranks in the next year or two.
At Woodbine, even though seven-year-old Melmich and five-year-old Gigantic Breeze (that whippersnapper!) tried their hardest, eight-year-old Are You Kidding Me fought them off and won the Eclipse Stakes (G2) for the third time in his career. He has now won twelve times in thirty-eight career starts — and when his career winds down, he will hopefully get a chance to pass his durability on to the next generation. After all, unlike so many horses who race in graded stakes through age eight, he is still a stud horse!
At Monmouth, eight-year-old Page McKenney wore down an in-form Shaft of Light to achieve his second career graded stakes victory in the Salvator Mile (G3) at Monmouth. He had won in Grade 3 company once before, a head score in the 2016 General George (G3), but he had been competitive over and over again in stakes company (graded and not!) since the summer of 2014. A maiden winner in $16,000 claiming company in 2013, and claimed for that sum out of an N2L later that year, his stakes success from ages four through eight is a perfect testament to having patience and letting a horse grow into himself.
I’m often asked how old horses are when they retire. As I discussed a year and a half ago when another grand old man retired at the age of eleven, it depends. I steadfastly hold that older horses who continue to make a race of it against company against whom they’ve been competitive for years have every right to keep running. This past weekend was a shining example of that.