09/20/2016 10:10AM

Russell Road, West Virginia-bred earner of $2 million, retired at 10

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Barbara D. Livingston
Russell Road, winning the Confucious Say Stakes last year, is only the second West Virginia-bred to have earned $2 million.

Russell Road surpassed $2 million in earnings with his second-place finish in the Northern Panhandle Stakes at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 6, but he came out of the race with an injury and has been retired at age 10.

Owned by Mark Russell, trained by James W. Casey, and based at Charles Town throughout his career, Russell Road retires with 31 wins from 62 starts. His earnings of $2,001,586 are the second-highest ever by a West Virginia-bred, trailing only Soul of the Matter, who earned more than $2.3 million for owner-breeder Burt Bacharach and trainer Richard Mandella between 1993 and 1996. The third-highest earning West Virginia-bred is Afternoon Deelites with $1,061,193.

Before being injured, Russell Road was on target to make his eighth consecutive start in the $450,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic at Charles Town on Oct. 8.

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"At Mountaineer, he suffered a little suspensory pull and we just did a re-check on it the other day," Russell said. "We just didn’t think it would be well enough to actually race him. Really, we could have run him in a couple of months and probably be competitive, but we’re not going to do that. He’s 10 and the Breeders’ Classics was probably going to be his last race anyway."

Russell Road won the Breeders' Classic in 2014, 2011, and 2009. He finished second in the race in 2012 and 2013 and fourth in 2010.

Russell said he was going to attempt to have Russell Road retrained for a second career away from racing.

"He’ll make any kind of jumper or riding horse, and we’re going to explore those possibilities for him," Russell said. "He’s not the kind of horse that’s going to be happy stomping flies out in the field. He wants to do a job. He loves being around people, he loves having something to do. It’s just who he is. He just likes that connection with folks."

Russell Road is tentatively scheduled to lead the post parade for the Breeders' Classic, and a retirement celebration is planned for him that night at Charles Town. Erich Zimny, the director of racing operations at Charles Town, said the track plans to rename the Wild and Wonderful Stakes in Russell Road's honor next year.