On a sunny afternoon at Hollywood Park Mr. Wolverine surprised them all when he surged at the top of the stretch and beat Grade 1 Stakes winner Lava Man in a race that gets replayed quite a bit in Lisa Pratt’s household. (Watch the race!)
No, the Pratts didn’t have money on the horse. But as his new owners, they can’t help but swell with pride when they watch the Thoroughbred barrel toward the finish line just a few years ago. And when they consider how well Mr. Wolverine worked out as the family horse who carefully carts their two daughters, ages 8 and 5 around a lesson ring, they are equally wowed.
“The fact that right off the track he started safely packing little kids around says a lot about him, but also about Thoroughbreds in general,” Pratt says. “He raced for about six-and-a-half years and won $340,000. And when we met him he was so good I did not hesitate to put my kids on him.”
Some might say that Mr. Wolverine swept into their lives with the same force that he conquered the field in the 2008 Kahled Stakes.
It all happened so fast. One minute, the entire Pratt family was in their car, on the way to a California stable that housed the retired racer. And the next, they were taking their turns riding the unassuming plain bay who has a habit of sticking out his tongue.
Race name: Mr. Wolverine
Sire: Last Lion
Dam: April Mom
Foal date: March 28, 2002“My husband went kicking and screaming to look at the horse. But when I asked if he wanted to try riding him, and with the horse’s tongue sticking out of the side of his mouth, he fell in love right there,” she says.
Next, the daughters had a try. He behaved like a “perfect angel” by taking great care with them. If they lost their balance a little, he stopped.
It’s been a year and a month since the afternoon ride that won Mr. Wolverine a new home and loving family.
The Thoroughbred’s former owner, race trainer, and breeder all keep in touch with Pratt, seeking to hear all the little bulletins about the racer’s new life. Pratt frequently sits down to write old-fashioned longhand letters to his breeder, and updates the others with phone calls and emails.
Their interest delights her. “To this day, to have the breeder, race trainer, and everyone connected with him, still care enough to be in touch with me tells me that the race industry has some good people in it.”
In fact, Mr. Wolverine may be involved in a promotional event for ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds slated for July 27 at Del Mar Show Park in Del Mar. Hosted by Thoroughbred charity After the Finish Line, the event will showcase 10 talented ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds, and Mr. Wolverine will be in the lineup.
The event will be broadcast throughout the morning (5 to 7 a.m.) by the local CBS affiliate, which will air interview segments with After the Finish Line President Dawn Mellen. The goal, she says, is to show the race-going public that horses who can no longer compete are talented and deserving of second careers.
Pratt couldn’t agree more.
“I think these horses need more people to speak for them” and to recognize their potential off the track, she says.
Although her family loves to watch Mr. Wolverine making mincemeat out of Lava Man in the exciting race, they feel even more in awe to watch him now.
“He patiently taught my daughters to learn to post. And he’s very mindful of their balance. If they lose their seat a little, he slows to a walk or stops,” she says. “He won’t let us pet his face, but for my daughters, he drops his head so they can pet him there.”
With his gentle ways, Mr. Wolverine has charmed a husband who just wasn’t sure, and bowled over just about everyone who meets him.
Score another win on the race card of life for Mr. Wolverine!