09/24/2014 11:22AM

Giwner: The Legacy of Captaintreacherous

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With the announcement of Captaintreacherous retiring, I began to wonder about his legacy. How will he be remembered by racing fans and industry types?

Early reaction on social media has been mixed. Some have touted his accomplishments and used the word “great” while others have gone as far to say he was overrated. The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in between.

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“Captain” was no doubt a great horse through his first two years of racing. Some will say he faced a weak crop of peers, and judging by the performance of Captain and the rest of the 2014 group of 4-year-olds, there is plenty of truth to the statement. But like Sweet Lou and so many other 4-year-olds, perhaps the best is yet to come with another year of maturity. Let’s say the jury is still out on the ability of the foals of 2010.

No one could deny that in the eight starts Captain made this year we saw no signs of the dominant horse from his 2- and 3-year-old seasons. That’s not to say he was bad, but he may have been overmatched. He lacked the quick acceleration necessary to stay with the fastest older pacers in the nation.

Derick Giwner   Captaintreacherous will have plenty of opportunity to rest as he begins stud duty in 2015.

So, when we look at Captaintreacherous’ body of work as a whole, where does he place in history? Is he better or worse than his sire Somebeachsomewhere? That is probably a great place to start. Most people would place Somebeachsomewhere in the upper echelon of horses that have competed on the track. Captain’s stats measure comparably (maybe slightly lesser) to “Beach” in their first two years of racing. But Beach has an edge because he retired after just two years of racing. Who knows how Beach would have done as a 4-year-old?  If Captain retired following his 2013 campaign, would we be talking about his greatness? The answer is probably yes.

Using a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest), I think it is safe to safe that Captain was sitting at about a 9 after his 3-year-old season and probably fell to somewhere in the 8 range was his abbreviated 2014 efforts. While eight is not great, there is still plenty of hope for Captain to leave a lasting mark of superiority and edge closer to a 10.

Going as far back as his rookie year on the track, I can recall Racing Manager Myron Bell chirping in my ear about how Captain’s true value and contribution to the sport would be as a stud. For Hanover Shoe Farms, Captain will have every opportunity to excel in the breeding shed and create a legacy that will last for many generations.

In a way, you can compare Captaintreacherous to the recently inducted Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre. He was an excellent player who fell just short of a Hall of Fame career. But his astonishing achievements as NY Yankees manager pushed him over the hump to a special plateau.

Captaintreacherous has that same opportunity as he embarks on his second career in 2015. With fresh blood always the hot ticket in the breeding shed, you know he’ll get the best mares. Time will tell if he can live up to the hype.

So when I sit back and recall the racing career of Captaintreacherous, I’ll remember a horse with guts. Perhaps his ability to grind out tough victories was simply the result of him being better than his competition, but a horse can only beat the foes that show up on the track. The bottom line is that he stepped up in all the big spots—North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Breeders Crown, Hempt—even when most horses would have come up short.

While at times I have labeled Captain a great horse, I’m going to pull that title back and wait to see how his lineage performs beginning in 2017. Until then, thanks for racing your heart out on the track each and every start, Captain. The pleasure was all ours.

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