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Word is in the Pyro is off to Darley at some point in the not-too-distant future; it must be nice to have things decided so early in one’s career (although hey, at six lifetime starts, he only needs three more to equal Smarty Jones in total starts – just not as many wins) – at least he and War Pass (five lifetime starts, with his stud plans settled as a 2-year-old) both know where they will be living come retirement (in, oh, November, although in theory either could race on).

Compare that to the reaction to Sirmione winning the Australian Cup:

“But the glow of Sirmione (Encosta de LagoWorld Guide) overshadowed the pall of sadness created by the Miss Finland retirement. He is only a 4-year-old, but has the Australian staying races at his mercy judging by his devastating turn of foot to win by 3 3/4 lengths, and roar his purse earnings now to more than Aus$1.6million. This was his second group I win, coincidentally achieved at the same track over the same trip.”

How many top level horses get to be 4 in US racing? Not many, that’s for certain. Circular Quay came back for a win in the New Orleans Handicap (perhaps it was down to my eating in an Australian restaurant this weekend?) after a promising but ultimately less-winning 3-year-old year than that of several of his agemates, but simply by racing as a 4-year-old, he’s become something of an anomaly for US racing – were he running in near his namesake in Oz, apparently he’d be ‘only a 4-year-old.’

Indeed, here is an article in The Age bemoaning the fact that Wonderful World’s racing career could come to an end ‘prematurely’ at 4 – (and, as it happens, it did) it seems in the US we beg for our stars to even be considered for such a campaign.

Since great minds think alike, you can find a similar perspective at Down the Stretch – why does it seem that American racehorses retire to stud so much earlier than in other countries? I would love to see some real statistics on the subject; in a cursory look around the Arrowfield stallions, only Starcraft had a particularly long career (22 starts from ages 2-5); among the European and Australian Darley contingent, Cape Cross had 19 starts from ages 2-5; Green Desert had 14, but still retired at 3. Superstar Manduro had 18 starts from 2-5 years of age.

The picture for Darley in the US is a little bleaker in terms of long racing careers of late: Street Cry raced from 2-4 with 12 starts while his son Street Sense was not far off – 10 starts from his 2 and 3-year-old years (and ditto that for Hard Spun). Comparatively older stallions like Elusive Quality and Cherokee Run made it into the 20+ starts club, but few racing after the early to mid-’90s have anything like that sort of race record.

Of course, we know that success on the track and success in the shed don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand; indeed, Hussonet was not much to see on the track and was sent to Chile (where he was a monster at stud) before finding even more breeding success in Australia – he’s now the sire of 24 G1 winners and will be meeting Miss Finland (bowing out at 4 after a ‘competitive’ if not world-beating 4-year-old year after her Australia Cup loss) come breeding season.

I can’t fault the stud farms for wanting to get in while they still can (nor the owners for seeing dollar signs and cashing in), but I certainly can blame them for not allowing their purchases to show what they are really worth; one wonders if fear of injury is as much the motivating factor that fear of poor racing performance over the long term might be.

At least Curlin (4) is following Miss Andretti’s (6) example (so far) and staying in training– we’ll see both back in action on March 29th, albeit on different stages.

Finally, thanks to Barry Irwin of Team Valor for adding his support to our Take Back The Race campaign — we appreciate your voice!

2 comments to Compare/Constrast

  • xomaddiesue

    I was really disapointed when I went to NTRA and found out Darley bought Pyro. The way they snapped up Hard Spun and Street Sense ticked me off. I’d like to see our champs go to American based stud’s like Lane’s End or Three Chimney’s. And I’d especially like to see them race into four and five, not stop dead at the Breeder’s Cup.

  • Teresa

    Although I know that no one is “blaming” Darley for the premature retirements/early stud contracts, it seems to me that equal, if not more, responsibility lies with the owners who are so willing to let their colts be snapped up.

    Then again, if I had a chance to make money in what is almost always a losing game, I’d probably jump at the chance.

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