10/11/2012 2:54PM

Keeneland: Aruna retired after unplaced finish in Spinster

Four-Footed Fotos
Five-time stakes winner Aruna has been retired after a sixth-place finish in the Spinster.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Aruna, a five-time stakes winner whose lone Grade 1 victory came in the 2011 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland, has run her last race and has been sent to her birthplace to be a broodmare, trainer Graham Motion announced Wednesday evening.

A 5-year-old mare bred and owned by the Flaxman Holdings Ltd., Aruna won seven times and earned $994,879 from her 18 starts. She finished sixth as the 5-2 second choice Sunday at Keeneland in her second try at the Spinster.

“She was the first horse I ever had for Flaxman, so she’s been a special horse to me and my staff,” said Motion, who added that Aruna might have run in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf had she run better in the Spinster. “But she’s done enough as it is.”

Aruna, by Mr. Greeley, was taken on a short van trip Wednesday to Oak Tree, where she was foaled and raised. Oak Tree is a Lexington, Ky., division of the breeding powerhouse Lane’s End, whose main property is in nearby Versailles. Flaxman is owned by the family of the late Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos.

Besides the Spinster at 4, Aruna also won the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at 3, the Grade 3 All Along at 4, and the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at 5. All of her starts came on grass except for her two Spinsters. She began her career with five races in France before winning her first three starts in the United States, starting with a first-level allowance on closing day of the 2010 Saratoga meet.

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Coincidentally, a 3-year-old Flaxman filly named Absolute Crackers rallied to win a first-level turf allowance at Keeneland on Wednesday in her North American debut, prompting Motion to tweet the following: “Ironic that Absolute Crackers would win in her U.S. debut on the same day we retired her stablemate, Aruna, who also won U.S. debut. Big shoes!”

Strong undercard

Aside from another terrific renewal of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup here Saturday, Keeneland also has an outstanding undercard on tap, with five allowances spread throughout the 10-race card.

Among the more recognizable names in those races are Salto, a Todd Pletcher-trained colt who was most recently second as the favorite in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger at Monmouth Park, and Don’t Tell Sophia, a sharp winner here last fall for Phil Sims.

The allowances dot the card as races 1, 3, 5, 6, and 8.

Pick five goes unhit

A flurry of longshots late on the Wednesday card led to a jackpot carryover in the 50-cent pick-five wager for Thursday. It was the second time in the first four racing days that a pick five had carried over, an unusual occurrence for a track of Keeneland’s scope.

Wednesday handle on the pick five, which is offered on the last five races every day, was $107,473. The winning horses were sent away at odds of 23-1, 5-1, 45-1, 10-1, and 5-1. That resulted in a carryover of $65,279, which enticed pick-five players to bet another $331,163 in fresh money Thursday. The first pick-five carryover of the meet last Saturday brought $476,039 in new wagers.

Day turns 59

Saturday marks the 59th birthday for retired Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, whose all-time riding records at Keeneland seem unassailable: wins (918), stakes wins (95), meet titles (22), and wins at one meet (45 in 1991).

Day, who remains busy with charitable works while living with his wife, Sheila, in the Lake Forest community of Louisville, was born Oct. 13, 1953, in Brush, Colo. He retired in August 2005.