This morning’s New York Times racing blog, The Rail, has a short entry from Alex Brown regarding the former stakes horse, Stream of Gold. For those who aren’t on the mailing list of two dozen horse rescue groups on Facebook, Stream of Gold is a ten year old horse with a pretty impressive career spanning three continents, from England to the UAE and then on to the United States. His last stakes placing was a third in a Grade 3 stakes back in 2008, and after that dropped down to Allowance company.
Now it’s 2011, and Stream of Gold is running against a much lighter crowd than he did was he was a kid. The last entry on his Past Performance (here, via The New York Times) was in a $3200 claiming race at Fairmount Park. He came in third place, and the notation says that he made a “late gain.” He didn’t exactly come in last, coughing on the dust of his opponents. He came in third, gaining on the leaders. Horse welfare advocates, including Alex Brown, have become vocal on the cause of retiring Stream of Gold, based upon his history as a stakes horse.
My intro to the story came via Ed DeRosa’s blog, in which he made the comment:
The conventional wisdom on Twitter was that a horse of his stature should not be toiling in bottom-level claiming ranks—that his $738,021 in earnings had earned him a dignified retirement.
I disagree on the basis that all horses deserve a dignified retirement.
I have to side with Ed. What bothers me is that because Stream of Gold made a ton of money, he’s “done enough.” That because Stream of Gold ran in G1 company against the likes of Einstein, he’s “done enough.” What if Stream of Gold had an equal win rate, but had done it his entire life at the claiming level? There wouldn’t be a conversation. Because you never even would have heard of him. He’d just keep running.
And yes, I can say that, because every day there are horses filling races at every track who have never won. Some come in second or third now and then – that’s not bad. Some never come within biting distance of the last horse in the pack. They run for years. They run ten, twenty, forty, sixty times. I guess they haven’t “done enough” yet?
Alex Brown writes:
For $5,000 this horse can be claimed and retired. Surely he has served our sport well, both in the United States, in Europe and in the United Arab Emirates. This horse deserves our support.
I have to respectfully disagree with Alex here. Asking a rescuer to step in and claim a horse because he has run at the upper echelons of the sport isn’t a good enough reason. What about all the horses who run for years and years but never break out of the claiming ranks? How hard do they have to work to deserve retirement? There are thousands of horses who can be bought for a song or picked up for free. Their names do not appear in black-type, or next to the titles of great stakes races. They haven’t done enough yet.
Maybe the $5,000 could even claim his competitor, Keystone Kid, a 7 year old gelding who hasn’t won a race since 2009 despite ten starts in 2010 and two already this year?
I’m not saying that Stream of Gold should or shouldn’t be running. I don’t know the horse, I’m not his vet or his owner or his trainer or his rider. I’m saying that the popular outcry for retiring him, basing it solely on his graded company performance, doesn’t hold up when there are so many hard-working, but unsuccessful horses in the country today.