09/09/2016 8:02PM

Giwner: Foiled Again belongs on the track

Derick Giwner
Foiled Again is set to start on Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway.

It seems like only yesterday that Foiled Again was racing against and beating the best older pacers in North America. Now in his 11th year of on-track duty, Standardbred racing’s all time leader in earnings has clearly lost a few steps, but those calling for his immediate retirement on social media are simply missing what has made the son of Dragon Again the great horse that he has been for a decade.

Foiled Again is a true racehorse and his place is on the track.

I can only think of three legitimate reasons for a horse to retire:


2--Not earning money

3--Breeding opportunity

Anyone who has been watching Foiled Again race can plainly see that he looks the same as in past years. There is no hitch in his step and there is no chance trainer Ron Burke would send him to the track week after week if the 12-year-old was hurting.

“He’s a happy horse and he likes to race,” said co-owner Mark Weaver.

[SCIOTO: Watch Wiggle It Jiggleit and the best older pacers at Scioto Saturday--Live on DRF!]

While Foiled Again has seen his earnings dip, it’s not like he is embarassing himself. In 18 starts this year he has only missed a check (finished worse than fifth) twice and has nine top-three finishes during the year,

There is no denying that Foiled Again’s earning power has decreased dramatically over the last four years. In 2013 he took home $1,404,984 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and JJk Stable, but has seen his yearly totals dip to $863,563 in 2014, $436,207 in 2015 and finally $71,270 this year. Some point to the huge drop-off and say Foiled Again is tarnishing his reputation, but what owner wouldn’t take a potential $100,000 season from their horse?

Although Burke has said all along that Foiled Again loves racing and will stay on the track until mandatory retirement at age 15, I can’t help but think his 2016 campaign almost seems like a retirement tour, like watching Mariano Rivera go from ballpark to ballpark getting honored.

The gelding has visited Yonkers Raceway, Pocono Downs, Harrah’s Philly, Northfield Park, The Meadows, Scioto Downs, Charlottetown Driving Park, and Batavia Downs so far this year.

“I would think it is kind of a retirement tour, but if you ask Ronnie (Burke), he has been quoted many times saying that he’ll race through his 14-year-old season,” said Weaver. “We are not racing for the money. If that was the case we wouldn’t be shipping him all over the country. We are trying to showcase him because he is the best aged pacer that ever lived.”

Last week he finished a good second behind a fast horse in Fireyourguns in a 1:53 2/5 mile at Batavia. With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, the seven-time millionaire was in a dull outer flow and sprinted home willingly in 27 2/5. That final quarter was hardly representative of a horse that didn’t want to be on the track.

Did you ever think that perhaps Foiled Again likes racing much more than he likes being turned out? Maybe, similar to an aging veteran ballplayer, he just enjoys being on the playing field more than sitting on the sidelines.

Foiled Again possesses that rare combination of speed, talent, guts and a will to win that separates the great horses from the merely good horses.  He is no less of a horse now than he was one, two or three years ago. He is just a bit slower.

With advances in science, many people will tell you that, “60 is the new 50.” Well, maybe 12 is the new 8 when it comes to horse ages.

At any rate, Foiled Again is in-to-go at Yonkers in the 12th race on Saturday night. The New York faithful will get another look at the  perhaps the most durable horse in the history of the sport. His record--264-88-62-40--speaks for itself and the fact that he sits more than $3 million ahead of Gallo Blue Chip as the richest standardbred in history at $7,410,258 is amazing as well.

“We are still hoping he puts it all together and takes one last run at the big ones,” said Weaver. “He means more to us than any other horse. I still love watching him race.”

Foiled Again has nothing left to prove on the track. Win or lose, let’s simply try to enjoy watching him do what he does best and stop worrying about tarnishing his legacy or lessoning his stature. He is a great horse and nothing he does going forward is going to change that fact.