08/08/2014 2:48PM

New career for brother to I'll Have Another

Tom Keyser
Retired racehorse Those Wer the Days, a half-brother to I'll Have Another shown winning at Saratoga in 2011, is set to be offered for adoption.

In the spring of 2012, half-brothers I’ll Have Another and Those Wer the Days were riding high. I’ll Have Another was a dual classic winner on the brink of becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Meanwhile, Those Wer the Days was riding a five-race winning streak of his own. But the story soon unraveled.

I’ll Have Another was retired with a tendon injury on the eve of the Belmont Stakes and was subsequently sold to Japan for stud duty. Those Wer the Days lost his final start before a knee injury ended his career.

However, Those Wer the Days could get a happy ending to his story after all. The 7-year-old Thunder Gulch gelding is about to become available for adoption via the New Vocations Thoroughbred retraining and rehoming organization.

Although he never raced at the elite levels his half-sibling did, Those Wer the Days did have his fair share of ability, winning 5 of 7 starts, never finishing worse than third, and bankrolling $162,860. New Vocations program director Anna Ford believes the gelding’s athleticism could serve him well in a new career.

“He came in very professional, just a really nice horse,” Ford said. “He loves people, he loves having a job. He acts like he might be about to be a low-level hunter. He was interested in the jumping, and he does it well, and he’s got a good mind.”

Those Wer the Days and I’ll Have Another, among three winners from as many starters out of the Arch mare Arch’s Gal Edith, were both bred in Kentucky by Harvey Clarke. The horseman sold I’ll Have Another for $11,000 as a yearling, and Dennis O’Neill, the brother of trainer Doug O’Neill, then famously selected the son of Flower Alley for a bargain $35,000 out of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Those Wer the Days also was entered in auctions as a yearling and juvenile but was withdrawn both times and eventually raced in Clarke’s colors.

The gelding made just one start as a 2-year-old, finishing second in his debut at Belmont Park, before beginning the first of several extended layoffs in his career. He returned in August 2010 to win a pair of races at Monmouth and Belmont by a combined 8 1/4 lengths.

The gelding went back to the sidelines until August 2011, when he won his comeback at Saratoga by 6 3/4 lengths, and then added a win at Parx Racing. Off another nearly seven-month layoff, Those Wer the Days returned to win an optional-claiming event at Aqueduct in April 2012. That stretched his winning streak to five, just a few weeks before I’ll Have Another captured the Kentucky Derby to thrust the family into the spotlight.

Those Wer the Days finished third in his next start, and the knee injury subsequently ended his career for good. The gelding spent time turned out on a farm before arriving at New Vocations to begin preparing for a second career, thanks to Clarke’s relationship with the organization.

“Harvey’s been a big supporter of New Vocations,” Ford said. “He sends some of his retired horses to us. So, when he was looking for a home for [Those Wer the Days], he called us. He’s been with us for about a month and a half, I think. [The turnout time] was great because now he’s ready to work.”

The New Vocations adoption process requires an application including veterinarian and personal references to confirm a potential owner’s suitability; an adoption fee depending on the age and physical limitations of the horse; and an adoption contract to ensure that New Vocations keeps track of the horses it adopts out. Ford said Those Wer the Days’s past knee injury shouldn’t affect his usefulness as a riding horse.

“I think he’ll be okay,” she said. “Time will tell. He’s super-sound now.”

Those Wer the Days is not the first well-connected horse to pass through the New Vocations barn. Current horses waiting to be adopted out include Zellers, a winning half-brother to champion Halfbridled. Albergatti, a stakes-placed half-brother to champion My Miss Aurelia, was adopted out last year. Ford said a horse’s pedigree can create major interest from racing-savvy adopters.

“I don’t think we’re going to have a hard time finding [Those Wer the Days] a home because there’s going to be a lot of people wanting him,” Ford said. “Every time we’ve had a horse where the name was recognized, or a sibling was recognized, everyone just gravitated to it. So, our problem is going to be wading through all of the applications to find the best fit.”