Monday, January 19, 2009

No Ageism Here

It was wonderfully fitting, then, on the day after the renamed Evening Attire Stakes was run, that a contemporary of the now 11-year-old should come up a winner at Aqueduct.
The second race on Sunday was an otherwise unremarkable event -- a $19,000 claimer at one mile, 70 yards for 4-year-olds and up, each of whom carried a price tag of $7,500. Six went to post, but the heavy favorite was Tour of the Cat, a son of Tour D'Or who was making his 75th lifetime start and giving the phase "back class" a new meaning.
It was not the first time the bay gelding had raced at the Big A; eight years ago, emboldened by a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Flamingo at Hialeah (talk about your Way Back Machines!), his then connections brought him north to finish sixth in the Grade 3 Withers behind Richly Blended.
He returned to Calder, and in the ensuing years made brief forays to Gulfstream Park and Tampa Downs, and once even to Dubai, where in 2004 he would finish sixth to Our New Recruit in the $2 million Golden Shaheen.
Among his victories were the Grade 3 Spend a Buck Handicap, the Grade 2 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship, and the Grade 3 Miami Millions Breeders' Cup Handicap in 2003 and 2004. Unraced in 2005, he made his first start for a tag --albeit a $200,000 tag -- in his return in 2006, finishing last, and then began the slow descent down the scale, finally haltered by trainer David Jacobson in November.
"His earnings were good," explained Douglas Jacobson, the trainer's brother and managing partner of Jacobson Racing Stables. Indeed, in 74 previous starts, the old pro had failed to pick up a check only eight times, and earned more than $1 million in compiling a record of 20 wins, 12 seconds and 13 thirds.
Although they have been claiming more 3-year-olds of late, the Jacobsons have had success with older horses, including the claimer Cool N Collective, who last winter went on a whirlwind tour of barns and won a pair of races at Aqueduct and Belmont at the age of 11 before heading north to Suffolk Downs, his current residence.
Last year, shortly after then 10-year-old Explosive Count was claimed out of his barn, Jacobson told me he once saw a 13-year-old horse race in Kentucky. In 2007, a 15-year-old horses named Hermosilla raced at Wyoming Downs, and according to recent records, the oldest horse ever to win a race was 14-year-old Alpena Magic, who won a claiming race at Indiana Downs on May 27, 2004.
"I have a soft spot in my heart for all my horses, but I also have a certain admiration for the older ones," Jacobson told me Sunday afternoon. "They're such pros -- nothing bothers them. The younger ones, a different color starting gate,different trees, an apartment building, anything new they notice. Horses like Tour of the Cat, they're pros. They know how to take care of themselves. They don't have any bad habits, and they love what they're doing. I get a kick out of it."

Photo by Adam Coglianese


Brooklyn Backstretch said...

David Jacobson also claimed the venerable Spooky Mulder, before losing him to Bruce Levine in August

This is a great story--I just hope that those owners, for whom this horse raced 74 times and made the majority of his earnings, have some plan for his retirement now that they've lost him. With all the money they made off of him, I hope that they feel some responsibility for his future.

Rona said...

Speaking Spooky Mulder, does anyone know how he's doing? I haven't seen him entered since he was claimed by Bruce Levine and I hope he's doing well.