09/24/2014 10:22AM

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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Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
Somebeachsomewhere is the best pacer I have ever seen in my 40 years of following harness racing
BornFunny More than 1 year ago
Well written Derick. I'm not sure the captain was as good as his daddy but what I fear is that this deduction because of public opinion will reinforce the early push to the breeding shed. Marvel sire or not I am just glad the owners took the risk on his legacy. That they (the owners) gave the sport the prospect of wordly greatness even if it were never attained. These are the individuals to be lauded. Too many potential greats end their careers a few chapters early. The captain was a special horse without a doubt and many critics would fall over themselves to own or be involved with such a specimen.
Jack H More than 1 year ago
"Is he better or worse than his sire Somebeachsomewhere? " You are kidding me right? He does not even breath the same air as SBSW. In a nutshell a speedball that when he had things his was was a great horse. When he had to trip out and fight.......no even close to a top 5 horse. Doubt he will be a super sire and even doubt he gets a substantial book of mares.
Jay Bergman More than 1 year ago
I prefer to look at Captaintreacherous in the context of his career. He was dominant against horses of his own age. What he was not was versatile. He was not allowed to race on small tracks and while Mr. Bell has claimed both publicly and privately that half-mile tracks don't matter in ranking a horse, the very fact that so many half-mile tracks still exist make them important at least in analyzing a horse's complete resume. What 2014 did for Captaintreacherous's legacy is open up a can of doubt. There were way too many situations where driver Tim Tetrick had to physically get after the horse to keep him going or get him going. What passed for laziness until tested at three, looked a lot different when up against tougher competition. While management is necessary to protect the value of horses it is a double-edged sword. By not racing small tracks, not trying from outside posts, the Captaintreacherous team may have come up with more excuses, but at the same time didn't allow the horse the opportunity to go down fighting…or was that what they were afraid of? Pedigree, performance and a beautifully conformed individual all give Captaintreacherous a huge chance at success in the breeding shed. What will remain a mystery until his foals race is whether their attitudes resemble Capt's at two& three or at four?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I prefer to look at Captaintreacherous in the context of his career. He was dominant against horses of his own age. What he was not was versatile. He was not allowed to race on small tracks and while Mr. Bell has claimed both publicly and privately that half-mile tracks don't matter in ranking a horse, the very fact that so many half-mile tracks still exist make them important at least in analyzing a horse's complete resume. What 2014 did for Captaintreacherous's legacy is open up a can of doubt. There were way too many situations where driver Tim Tetrick had to physically get after the horse to keep him going or get him going. What passed for laziness until tested at three, looked a lot different when up against tougher competition. While management is necessary to protect the value of horses it is a double-edged sword. By not racing small tracks, not trying from outside posts, the Captaintreacherous team may have come up with more excuses, but at the same time didn't allow the horse the opportunity to go down fighting…or was that what they were afraid of? Pedigree, performance and a beautifully conformed individual all give Captaintreacherous a huge chance at success in the breeding shed. What will remain a mystery until his foals race is whether their attitudes resemble Capt's at two& three or at four?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I prefer to look at Captaintreacherous in the context of his career. He was dominant against horses of his own age. What he was not was versatile. He was not allowed to race on small tracks and while Mr. Bell has claimed both publicly and privately that half-mile tracks don't matter in ranking a horse, the very fact that so many half-mile tracks still exist make them important at least in analyzing a horse's complete resume. What 2014 did for Captaintreacherous's legacy is open up a can of doubt. There were way too many situations where driver Tim Tetrick had to physically get after the horse to keep him going or get him going. What passed for laziness until tested at three, looked a lot different when up against tougher competition. While management is necessary to protect the value of horses it is a double-edged sword. By not racing small tracks, not trying from outside posts, the Captaintreacherous team may have come up with more excuses, but at the same time didn't allow the horse the opportunity to go down fighting…or was that what they were afraid of? Pedigree, performance and a beautifully conformed individual all give Captaintreacherous a huge chance at success in the breeding shed. What will remain a mystery until his foals race is whether their attitudes resemble Capt's at two& three or at four?