On May 17th in the 3rd race at Belmont Park, the 10 year old gelding, Be Bullish ran what would become his final race. It was an otherwise nondescript $16,000 claimin race held in the middle of the card on a Sunday afternoon. There were no expectations of large amounts wagered; few fans intrigued by it, however there was a story. Be Bullish, a 10 year old gelding was running for his 87th overall start and 3rd start this year as well as his third win. Be Bullish was in for a tag and was availble should someone wish to purchase him for the amount of $16,000.
Someone did purchase him. That person is Mike Repole, owner of Repole Stable. Mike had claimed Be Bullish at least twice during his career, knew the horse and wanted to claim him for one reason, to retire him. Be Bullish had run in every level there was to run in New York. He had won at every level as well, including being a multiple stakes winner. Repole knew this horse deserved to enjoy retirement and immediately announce that Be Bullish would be retired to Old Friends Cabin Creek, a post racing retirement facilty in Saratoga Springs. Mike understands that racehorses like any athlete have a shelf life where they can perform to their potential. Be Bullish, while a gelding, raced longer than most. He won his last 4 races, a noticeable feat for horses more than half his age.
Contrast this with the comments made by Be Bullish’s most recent trainer, David Jacobsen. He state to David Grening of the Daily Racing Form that“If Mike Repole claimed this horse to retire him, I don’t see it,” Jacobson said. “I think it’s foolish. He shouldn’t be taking this horse away from the public. This horse is a real professional, he knows how to win. I guess that’s one less good horse I have to run against.” Clearly Jacobson doesn’t get it.
Owners and trainers of horses have a duty to insure the safety and well being of the race horse. That includes making sure the horse has a good life in retirement. What Mike Repole did should be lauded and copied. Fortunately thoroughbred aftercare is finally getting the attention and devotion from the owners, trainers, track management and other stakeholders it deserves. The industry should laud Mike Repole for his actions, looking out for the horse before a catastrophic injury happens.
The fact that Jacobson doesn’t realize this is confounding since one of his former large clients (and former owner of Be Bullish) Drawing Away Stables has donated a paddock to Old Friends in the name of Saginaw, one of their horses that was injured so severely during a race at Saratoga that he had to be put down.
Should you consider buying a horse, when you meet with a trainer talk about post racing plans. Make sure you are on the same page with respect to off track placement. A owner must realize that post race life for these animals is a serious consideration for the owner that require discussion, planning and placement.