Be Bullish retires to Old Friends, group effort

Be Bullish crosses the finish line at Belmont Park. He will now enjoy retirement at Old Friends. Photo courtesy Joe Labozzetta

Be Bullish crosses the finish line at Belmont Park. He will now enjoy retirement at Old Friends. Photo courtesy Joe Labozzetta

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.”

Be Bullish
Sire: Pure Prize
Dam: Smart Holly
Foal date: Feb. 25, 2005
Earnings: $1,106,288; 87 starts
Michael 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.

Be Bullish in the paddock. Photo by Joe Labozzetta

Be Bullish in the paddock. Photo by Joe Labozzetta

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.

Old Friends at Cabin Creek will be the new home to Be Bullish.

Old Friends at Cabin Creek will be the new home to Be Bullish.

“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!!!

24 responses to “Be Bullish retires to Old Friends, group effort”

  1. Lisa Peterson

    I love that Mike Repole takes care of his horses after their racing careers are finished. I am so blessed to be able to say that I adopted one of his sweet, gorgeous geldings from New Vocations recently. This guy sustained a fracture before he could even be race-trained, but he was still given the same loving respect as a superstar like Be Bullish. Mike Repole is my hero! 🙂

  2. clocker

    The issue, potential cure, is for the stewards to review the racing records of the entries in
    tandem with the trainer(s) records and then decline to allow the horse to race as described
    in the Jacobson article.
    In turn, once the due diligence method described above be implemented and coordinated
    on a database for all tracks in the U.S.

    I can’t understand why tracks haven’t thought about such a system, leaving me to believe
    they fear a loss of handle, diminished fields etc….


    So Happy! ! But got all excited thinking BE BULLISH was coming to OLD FRIENDS in Georgetown, KENTUCKY when I first read it!!! sad face

  4. Wendy Averill

    Repole, Moss, Jacobson and Blowen are quite well known to racing rescue followers. However, it is important to note that Gail Hirt (Beyond The Roses Equine Rescue and Retirement) has done amazing work to rescue some of the warriors who have won a million, or never ran at all. She is always monitoring the kill buyers and deserves incredible commendations for all that she does. She should have a lot of accolades and donations!

    1. Michelle Y.

      Agree about Gail…she does incredible work for these horses!

  5. Melvin Johnson

    Great outcome. I agree with the comment that finding someone to lease him and use him lightly and responsibly may be good for him and leave room for another to be retired assuming he is sound enough. The personal attention and love that could bring to him may be more appreciated than just being “retired”. In any event, well done.

  6. doug

    Maggi Moss is a true pioneer in the game! We need more caring people like Maggi Moss representing racing..This horse ran its heart out for ten years and deserves to be retired…Bravo Mike Repole!

  7. Greg Jones

    Thank you Maggi, and bravo for all you do. I tweeted this early last year, so just ask yourself how many other horses were ruined by Jacobson since then. This is David Jacobson, wish Mr. Blowen could take a moment and read.

    1. Michelle Y.

      Wow, just read your tweet and I am amazed that Jacobson still has a license! His statement “…as soon as he was done with racing that they’d send him to me” takes on a whole new meaning to me now! Yeah, “done with racing” as in we will milk that horse for every thing he’s got and then you can have him. Yikes.

  8. ShopForPuppy

    I love this story, and I am so happy that some people worked tirelessly to save this horse. The horse racing industry needs more owners like this. Social media is a strong and powerful communication tool, and I am glad that the voice from social media has been heard to the benefit of Be Bullish. Thank you to Mike Repole, Maggi Moss, Gail Hirt and Old Friends for stepping up for him.


  9. Daryl J Conner

    This is the way it should be after tey work so hard and give it their all on the track. He is a beauty, hope he can enjoy his time off.. Thank you all for giving him this time.

  10. Delrene Sims

    Very happy ending for this wonderful east coast gorgeous gray. Couldn’t have landed in a better retirement setting!!! Congratulations to all.

  11. LL

    Thanks to Mike for his generosity and concern. I am watching one of my “old warriors” also and my partnership supposedly is keeping an eye on him too. He hasn’t earned as much as Bullish but he has earned lots for the man who claimed him from us and lately has turned him into a grass horse. He was one of those horses my dad used to call “the bread and butter horse”.

  12. cheri vaughan

    Great! I am so happy for Be Bullish regardless of the details…

  13. sherry

    I ,myself made the mistake of running my horse at the age of 12. I was there when he was born and I said I would be there in the end. He was claimed from me when he was 7, I claimed him back the next year. I loved watching him run so much that I lost focus of why I wanted him back. He made a lot of money for me over the years and was not a high profile horse. On a happy note I still have him and he is happy and turned 20 this year. I wish I could keep all of them but he makes me feel that I try.

  14. Michelle Y.

    I am happy Be Bullish was retired while still sound and healthy. Thanks to all involved in getting him off the track. I do see Mr. Blowen’s point but I am also thankful for social media and the negative attention it can garner to owners who continue to push their horses long after they should be retired from the stressors of racing.

  15. Debra Sheffield

    I totally agree with Maggie and Gail about getting the media involved and the need to retire horses before injuries make their continuation of life too painful. Recently, I made comments on an online article on the appearance of a horse newly retired at Old Friends. My comments were an honest assessment of the horse not looking quite comfortable yet and it worried me. Michael Blowen replied to my comment that the horse was great and running around enjoying retirement. Because of the position he is in, I can understand his statement of not putting the owner’s “back up” and thinking you work quietly in the background with negotiations. But, racing is very hard on the horse’s body and most of the time the efforts are too late to save the old warriors out there. I hope Mr. Blowen can see that time’s have changed and the public WANTS to see good for the horses that have little say so in their well being. The sport is due to them and they need advocates. Thanks to Maggie Moss, Gail Hirt, and Mike Repole, racing needs this to sustain itself and so do the horses.

  16. Linda R. Moss

    Love, Love, Love this story! Congratulations to everyone involved and so happy for Be Bullish – well deserved! Great story Susan!

    1. Susan Salk

      Linda, thanks! I like that though people may disagree on the methods for retiring a horse, they can speak about their feelings without losing their cool. In my opinion, that’s a mark of class. And I feel good knowing that Michael Blowen, Maggi Moss, and Gail Hirt are out there making great things happen for OTTBs everyday.

  17. Judy

    Thank you Mike for doing that.

  18. Marlaine Meeker

    Thanks to all that cared enough to make this happen. Just wish we could visit Saginaw along with Be Bullish.

  19. Carolin Phillips

    You totally deserve a peaceful retirement Be Bullish! I am so happy for you. My heartfelt thanks to everyone involved that made it happen. It proves that there are many caring people out there in the racing industry that believe the health and well being of the horse should be the first thing taken into consideration. I am sorry, though, to see that it took your being entered in bottom claiming races (guessing you were getting tired) for folks to step up to the plate. But I’m so very thankful you didn’t end up as a rescue somewhere (discarded in an empty field, starved, slaughter auction), which is the reality for so many TBs even after they made tons of money for their owners. Horse racing used to be called the sport of kings…but all of the bad press/media attention to abused and neglected TBs has changed public opinion.

  20. Susan

    So happy for this beauty! Regardless of who retired him or why, he deserves nothing but the best.

  21. Jon

    Bravo! Rest great one. Your job is done. I do wonder if he is sound enough to do something else. Maybe low level eventing, fox hunting, jumpers, pony club for a hotshot young rider or be just a great pleasure horse.

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