11/17/2011 12:02PM

Wave goodbye to the top earners of 2011


The exodus is well underway.

The top 3-year-olds in the harness world are packing their saddle bags and preparing for the life of luxury. After two hard years of work on the track and 20 to 30 career races under their bridle (about average for a standardbred in one year, not two), it is time to call it a career and head to the breeding shed.

Manofmanymissions, Roll With Joe, Daylon Magician and Broad Bahn have all announced their retirements from the daily rigors of racing, and the $1.5 million North America Cup winner Up The Credit is destined to follow after racing in Saturday’s Matron stakes at Dover Downs.

They have made plenty of money for their owners. Each is a career millionaire and four of the five are ranked in the Top 10 earners of 2011. In fact, unless super-filly See You At Peelers regains her health, all of the Top 5 money-winning 3-year-olds will not race at four.

The retirement announcements came despite the best efforts of New Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural, who launched a trial program at his tracks (Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon) to require that beginning with foals of 2013, nominees must be foaled by a stallion of at least five years of age to compete in stakes or early closing events (waivers are granted if injury causes retirement).

Are the fans are left out in the cold once again?

I think not.

While the upper-echelon of the sophomore ranks was filled with some very good horses, I hardly feel as though any were great. We lucked out this year; there were no superstars. None of the retirees could hold a candle to the Somebeachsomewhere or Muscle Hill; nearly unbeaten (one career loss each) top performers from years past. I was upset when they retired because fans like me were robbed of the chance of seeing great horses return for an encore.

This year turned out to be a strange one indeed. None of the second-year performers stood out and the ones that are planning on racing next year could turn out to be the best of the group when we recount history 10 years from now. Betterthancheddar on the pacing side and Chapter Seven on the trot are two of the more interesting 3-year-olds currently racing. Both are expected to return to the track in 2012.

So, for those horses who have retired, good luck breeding future champions. I look forward to seeing your sons and daughters on the track; hopefully as four-year-olds.


Add $988,559 earner and Little Brown Jug winner Big Bad John to the list of 3-year-olds which are off to stud duty. It was announced on Friday that he will stand stud at Midland Acres in Ohio.