Updated on 09/17/2011 10:48AM

Sir Bear retired at age 10


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The seemingly ageless Sir Bear, a three-time Grade 1 winner who has earned more than $2.5 million, has been retired following his 11th-place finish in Saturday's Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.

, 10, has been plagued by a chronic bleeding problem for the past several seasons and bled again during the Classic.

"We've tried everything to hold him but the problem seemed to get worse as he got older," said Al Smollin, a licensed veterinarian who along with his wife, Barbara, owns and bred Sir Bear.

Sir Bear has been a Cinderella story for the Smollins from the time they bred their only mare, Spicy Pearl, to Sir Leon 11 years ago.

"He was the mare's first foal, and I guess a freak of nature because she's never produced another one like him," Smollin said. "We never thought he'd even turn out to be a stakes horse. He ran for a claiming price in his first two starts. And his first stakes victory, in an overnight handicap at Calder as a 3-year-old was as exciting to me as when he won the Met Handicap or Cigar Mile in New York."

Sir Bear also became like a member of the family for the Smollins, who attended every one of his 71 starts. Yet Barbara has yet to see him run a single race.

"I'd get so nervous I'd turn my back on the track and just listen to the announcer," she said. "Retiring him is tough not because I'll miss his racing but because I know he's going to miss it when he's off the racetrack."

Sir Bear retires with a record of 19-12-14. The Smollins are in the process of having a barn built for Sir Bear at their home in Southwest Ranches.

"We'll have to send him to a farm first to slowly wind down from racetrack life," Barbara Smollin said. "The best thing is that he's retiring 100 percent sound."

Ralph Ziadie, who trained Sir Bear throughout his career, said he owes a lot of his own success to the gelding.

"He meant a lot to me," said Ziadie. "He made my name and help fill this barn for me. He was just an amazing horse."