07/10/2007 11:00PM

17-year-old bought, scratched, retired


Alpena Magic, the 17-year-old horse who was scheduled to run Wednesday in a $4,000 claiming sprint race at Ellis Park, was scratched from the race after the racetrack's owner, Ron Geary, purchased the horse privately.

Geary reached an agreement to buy Alpena Magic for an undisclosed price from owner-breeder Kenneth Robinette on Wednesday morning, according to a spokeswoman for Ellis, Jennifer Bayer. It was Geary's decision to scratch the horse.

"We had gotten a lot of feedback from people who were concerned that the horse was in danger of hurting himself or suffering an injury during the race, and Ron thought it was a good idea to buy the horse and let him join Ellis Park's team," Bayer said.

According to Bayer, Alpena Magic will now be employed by Ellis in its "Early at Ellis" marketing program, which provides backstretch tours. He will begin his new career on Saturday.

"The horse enjoys being around people and the racetrack," Geary said. "His new role will allow him to be our equine ambassador."

Trained by Bill Hicks, Alpena Magic had five recent workouts at Ellis Park before being entered in Wednesday's third race, a bottom-level claiming event at 5 1/2 furlongs. The horse was originally retired at age 15 - the age at which most racing states prohibit a horse from running - after earning $200,000 in his career.

Kentucky does not have an age limit on entries, though Alpena Magic would have had to pass the standard veterinarian's exam in order to enter the gate.