Life At Ten Retired

On Saturday at Belmont, Life At Ten finished last by almost 21 lengths in the race that she won last year by two. She was part of what made that Belmont Saturday super in 2010, and that Beldame was the last time she was in the winner’s circle.

I’m sure that I saw Life At Ten race before the Rare Treat in 2010, but if I did, I don’t remember it. I remember being arrested by her at Aqueduct that day, though, arrested by her presence in the paddock. In a post I wrote for February 21 that year, I called her a “stunning chestnut”:  “…when I went to the paddock, she was the horse who caught my eye: big, dappled, graceful.”

And I wasn’t the only one. Jockey Richard Migliore, who rode her to a 5 ¼ length victory that day in his only ride on her, said after the race that being on her was like “going horseback riding.”  “If a horse ever tells you in the warm-up, ‘I’m ready to run,’ she did today,” said Migliore.  “That was fun.”

Before that race, Life At Ten’s record was 10-3-5-1; after, she won three of her next four races, all comfortably, all graded stakes, two Grade 1’s. One of those races was the Ogden Phipps at Belmont, on a day when I had a party in one of the picnic areas at the top of the stretch. She was on the lead the whole way, and we watched her come around that wide turn, using her unrivaled speed, having run three quarters of a mile in 1:08.40, and we wondered…could she hold on?

She could, and it was breathtaking.

She came to Saratoga that summer and took on Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign, took her on through a mile and wouldn’t let her go, losing both the battle and the war, finishing a distant third behind the reigning Horse of the Year and the winner, Persistently.

She came back to Belmont, the track she loved, to be one of Super Saturday’s headliners, and she didn’t disappoint.

She was a star, and we talked about her and Unrivaled Belle like we talk about Blind Luck and Havre de Grace. I couldn’t wait to see their rematch in the Distaff in the Breeders’ Cup.

We all know what happened, and I’ve no desire to re-hash it here. She gave us an unbelievable year: from November 2009 to October 2010, she made eight starts and won seven of them. She was one of my favorite, favorite things about racing last year. Whether I saw her in a stall, during a workout, or on the racetrack, she always made me stop and watch, and I always had the same reaction that I did the first time I saw her: stunning.

I’ll miss her.

In this post, Richard Migliore talks about riding Life At Ten in the Rare Treat.

9 thoughts on “Life At Ten Retired

  1. She’s a beautiful mare and I’m glad they finally made this decision for her.

    May she have a long and happy retirement, and I’m looking forward to following her babies in a couple years!

  2. Like so many others, she is one of my favorites and it’s been painful to watch her race in 2011. Thanks for the memories Life At Ten and enjoy your new life on the farm.

  3. So nice to know that she had so many fans.

    Jesse, I can see why they didn’t retire her off one weird race, which is what the BC was. Maybe the retirement could have come this summer, or earlier this fall, but particularly given how well she was training, I don’t blame anyone for giving her chances to come back. I wish that she had, and that we’d get to see her next year, too.

  4. After Saturday, this was the right call in retiring her. Life at Ten clearly has not been the same horse since last year’s Beldame for whatever reason. Perhaps the race with Rachel Alexandra last year took more out of her than we realized.

    Now we also have the question of Blind Luck, although given how hard the Santa Anita track has been ever since it went back to dirt last winter, I’m much more inclined to think it was the surface and we find out later that Blind Luck had an injury similar what to Morning Line was discovered to have two weeks after the Whitney earlier this summer. In fact, if I’m at Breeders’ Cup, Ltd., if it were up to me, in light of what happened with Blind Luck I’d be making it clear to Santa Anita officials now that unless the track is re-built to east coast (i.e.: to be like the Aqueduct Inner Track, widely considered to be the safest of the surfaces raced on in New York), the 2012 BC would be held at Hollywood Park.


    As I’ve not posted since you wrote what you did a few blogs back, I wanted to say thanks for your kind words on my writings. You’re one of the few that seem to understand where I’m coming from, especially since many of my views are not in what is the mainstream of horse racing. What many in racing don’t realize is there is a whole world outside the sport that we have to appeal to. That means being extremely flexible with scheduling, which I have noted many times (including my plans that would include a monthly series of telecasts outside the Triple Crown events that would air in Saturday prime time, most likely on NBC from 8:00-11:00 PM ET with usually 9-10 races in a three-hour format as well taking advantage of Hollywood Park racing late on Friday night-early Saturday east coast time to create a series of late Friday night telecasts that would air on NBC following “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” late on Friday nights during the two Hollywood Park meets at 1:37 AM ET/PT). We need people in racing willing enough to be flexible in scheduling and the like, even if it means going in what could be considered to be undesirable time slots much the way poker was successful in doing such and parlaying it into success before the collapse of the online poker outlets.

  5. Teresa,
    Thanks for the lovely tribute to Life at Ten. I, too, was a fan of that horse. Saturday was a great day to be at Belmont, and Life at Ten’s disappointing finish was the one negative on the day (besides the weather). Would have loved to see her go out on top – your column replaying her accomplishments is the next best thing.

    Saw you from afar early in the day, you were working hard as always.

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