Slowing down as we age is distastefully inevitable–I wish that running fast and far was as easy today as it was ten years ago–and even if we do a pretty good job of denying it in ourselves, we find ourselves reminded of its truth when we are lucky enough to watch some of our favorites grow up, and old, on the racetrack, something that happens all too infrequently in racing these days.
Ten-year-old Evening Attire finished last in his two most recent starts; he’s experienced similar slowdowns earlier in his career, and he’s still in training (working out on Saturday at Belmont in :48.68), so maybe he’s got another couple of wins in him. I respect his connections and hope that Evening Attire will allow them to retire him when the time comes, so that we don’t have to watch him drift downward, through allowances into claiming ranks, and to tracks not on his usual circuit.
Naughty New Yorker’s thrown in a couple of clunkers, too, finishing fifth in the Excelsior a few weeks ago, beaten by a bit more than three lengths, admittedly in tougher company than he’s used to, and finishing last of five in Sunday’s King’s Point for state-breds. According to New York racing’s biggest fan, “Naughty New Yorker broke a step slowly, chased outside, shot blanks. I love this horse—might need a break.” At age six, Naughty New Yorker was making his forty-third lifetime start, compiling a 12-6-7 record and earning a whopping $972,000, not counting yesterday’s check, which probably didn’t put him over the million mark. He’s still a horse, and one has to think that he’s got a good career ahead of him on New York breeding farms. He’s trained by Pat Kelly, who also trains Evening Attire.
In June of 2006, noting Spooky Mulder’s 26th win in the third race the previous day, Jerry Bossert wrote in the Daily News of the then-eight-year-old gelding, “He may not be the fastest horse on the grounds but he’s got the biggest heart.” Spooky Mulder is a New York racing favorite, up there with Evening Attire in many people’s hearts; unfortunately, New York race fans haven’t gotten to see Spooky too often lately; since being claimed by Scott Lake in February of ’07, Spooky Mulder has raced at Laurel and Delaware, finishing in the money in three of six mid-Atlantic starts.
Spooky was back in on Monday, this gelding who not long ago raced in $75K optional claimers available for $32,000 today. Two scratches left him with two foes in the race, and during the race call, track announcer John Curran highlighted the very characteristics that have made him such a fan favorite up here; as the horse went head to head with Chief Export, at times looking beaten in the stretch, he refused to give up: “Spooky Mulder loves to win…Spooky Mulder is the gamer [of the two]…Spooky Mulder loves that winner’s circle!”
As we’ve seen him do so many times before (thirty-one, to be exact), Spooky Mulder refused to give up, refused to lose, digging in and winning this three-horse race by a head. It was his eightieth career start, and he’s racked up a 32-16-4 record. I love that: four thirds. If he’s not going to finish first or second, I guess, he just decides it’s not worth the effort. Not counting today’s purse, he’s won almost $894,000. Unfortunately, Spooky doesn’t have a stud career ahead of him…when it’s time, can we raise enough money to get him to Old Friends?