Million-dollar earner Be Bullish was retired this week after sailing to victory for the fourth consecutive race, and then hitting the jackpot with a long-planned retirement at Old Friends.
The beautiful gray, who has knocked in 19 wins and 26 second place finishes in his mighty career, was claimed at the end of Race 3 at Belmont Park May 17 by former owner Mike Repole, and retired immediately.
“All great athletes have to retire some time and not too many great athletes get to retire at the top of their game,” Repole says in a published report by the Daily Racing Form. “That he won four in a row makes for a cooler story, but he’s got close to 90 starts, 50-percent first or second, churned out over a million bucks.”
Sire: Pure Prize
Dam: Smart Holly
Foal date: Feb. 25, 2005
Earnings: $1,106,288; 87 startsMichael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, says Be Bullish will travel to his Thoroughbred retirement facility’s Cabin Creek farm near the Saratoga Race Course shortly, bringing a long-planned-for retirement to fruition.
A year ago, Blowen and Be Bullish’s owners at Drawing Away Stable agreed that the multiple stakes placed gelding would be retired at Old Friends when the time came, Blowen says. “I told David Jacobson that Be Bullish was a perfect candidate for Old Friends, and they agreed,” he says. “They said then that as soon as he was done with racing that they’d send him to me.”
Some horse-welfare advocates criticized Drawing Away Stables for continuing to race the 10-year-old warhorse. Maggi Moss, a well-known racehorse owner and advocate and Gail Hirt of Beyond the Roses Equine wrote publicly of their concern that the successful racehorse may become injured during his long campaign. Hirt and others recently tried to raise funds prior to an earlier race, from which Be Bullish was ultimately scratched.
Though David Jacobson, who lost Be Bullish to Repole’s claim, publicly expressed disappointment that such a winning horse would be “taken away from the public,” Blowen says the new retiree will make lots of new friends in Saratoga, where he expects fans of the horse to lavish him with attention.
The focus in social media on Be Bullish and his long career was a spotlight that cut two ways, Blowen says.
Blowen says that while people mean well when they publicly worry about a horse, expressions of concern and negative comments, may in fact put an owner’s “back up,” resisting demands for retirement.
“Think about it. Why would I allow my horse to go to someone who thinks I’m the devil?” Blowen says. “I wouldn’t. My approach has been to not focus on the owners, but to quietly raise the money and make a proposal for retirement.”
Gail Hirt, who was among the Thoroughbred advocates who criticized Be Bullish’s connections for continuing to run the horse, disagrees.
“Bringing attention to these ‘War Horses’ puts pressure on the owners and trainers to get into retirement. These horses have given their all to racing, and deserve to be retired before something happens to them where they can’t live comfortable in retirement,” Hirt says. “We started to keep an eye on Be Bullish when he started showing up in claiming races last year. And we started working with Maggi Moss to try to get him. Maggi contacted Mike Repole and it happened.”
Moss, who confirms she contacted Repole about Be Bullish, says she is firmly behind the good that social media can do for a horse like this.
“Social media brings an awareness of caring about the horse and revealing the realities of horse racing,” Moss says. “I truly believe owners/trainers need to care about the bigger picture, the industry, and the horses that make up the pleasure for the owners, the betting public, and those that come to the races. The sport has lost the public due to what they believe is a disregard for the animals, may it be drugs or horses dying.” She further notes that the wear and tear on his body, after so long a career, could have injured him had he not been retired.
Regardless of the opinion of the recent social media attention spotlighting Be Bullish, Blowen, Hirt, Moss and Repole agree: Be Bullish sure did deserve this great outcome.
Says Repole, “Be Bullish is a special horse, as are all horses. As an owner I feel it should be our responsibility when we retire a horse. We should always put the horse’s best interest first. This 10-year-old true warrior shouldn’t be running for bottom claimers at 10-years-old. He deserves and has earned his retirement. I’m happy for Be Bullish and all the Be Bullish fans out there!!!