WaquoitNBroadBrush wrote:Do any jurisdictions still allow horses to run after their 12-y-o season? I know harness has had a mandatory retirement age of 14 for some time (I always look forward to seeing those "retirement ceremonies" on the Freehold and Monticello simulcasts in December) but I can't remember seeing a 13- or 14-y-o thoroughbred in any chart for a long time now. The oldest horse I ever saw run in person was a mare named Pollette, who was 15 when she competed at the Marshfield Fair in Massachusetts in 1977, and I found a 17-year-old gelding named Balmy Moose in a 1972 Chart Book, running at Scarborough Downs in Maine their last season as a t-bred track. Are the senior citizens not allowed to run anywhere anymore, or are some still out there?
Keeping track of all of these War Horses requires an Excel spreadsheet which is beginning to tax the available space on this computer (!), but scanning the list of the 300 or
so 10+ year olds who were in training or ran this year, it looks like there were roughly 20 that were 13yo or more. It seems that the truly ancient runners are more likely
to show up at the State Fair or bush tracks around the country and rarely race more than 5/6 times a year. As for the larger tracks, a couple come to mind that are known
to be more accepting of older runners - certainly Camarero in PR, and in the states, Presque Isle Downs and Turf Paradise at the top, followed closely by Thistledown, Mountaineer, Finger Lakes and Mahoning. A couple years back, there was Star of Rome, a 15yo who was looking to start at Finger Lakes, but the connections were told that he was too old. They then shuffled him to PID where he was entered a few times, but scratched for various reasons. The connections, fortunately, gave up and he was unceremoniously retired. And we must not forget dear old Alpena Magic, who raced a good number of times at 15, and there were thoughts of starting him as a 16yo - and even at 17, until the Ellis Park boss snatched him up and made him the Ellis Park "Equine Ambassador"!
I am fairly certain that a goodly number of the 12yo horses that ran well in 2016 will return in their 13th year - among those, Doctor Titilo at Camarero who will try to eclipse the 200 start mark. We can only cross our collective fingers and hope that all works out well for them. Sadly, however, we occasionly witness that last race that should never have been run - and the price paid for doing so...