Lava Man Retires
Since the news broke that there was talk of retiring Lava Man just over a week ago, fans have been waiting anxiously and hoping that the magnificent horse would return to horse racing. But on Wednesday 30 July 2008 it was made official, Lava Man would not make a comeback. He was retired immediately, leaving behind a racing legacy that will be admired and remembered for many years to come. While watching one of the racing greats bow out gracefully is heartbreaking to many, the decision was made in his best interest and his owners and trainer are just grateful that he is able to walk away from horse racing without serious injury.
With his career earnings at $5 268 706, Lava Man is the richest claiming horse in the history of thoroughbred horse racing. Claimed by Steve Kenly, Dave Kenly, Tracy Kenly and Jason Wood in 2006 for $50 000, Lava Man was handed over to trainer Doug O’Neill and flourished under his guidance. Later in 2006 he became the first horse to claim victory at the Hollywood Gold Cup, the Pacific Classic and the Santa Anita Handicap in the same year and also won the Hollywood Gold Cup three years consecutively from 2005 to 2007. On 20 July 2008, during the Eddie Read Handicap, which was held at Del Mar Racecourse, Lava Man finished in last position. It was here, after his sixth loss, that it was decided to look at retirement for the seven year old racing phenomenon.
Even though trainer Doug O’Neill had suggested retiring Lava Man to the owners, it remained a very difficult decision for them. They decided to send him to the state of the art Alamo Pintado Equine Clinic in California for a thorough medical examination. During the examinations x-rays were taken of Lava Man’s ankles and a significant difference was seen in the x-rays when compared to x-rays taken of his ankles at the beginning of the year. On hearing the results, the decision became clear and easy, Lava Man would retire. Although the changes in his ankles have put an end to his illustrious racing career, they will not prevent him from enjoying a well deserved retirement, walking and grazing the grass of his new pastures.
But it is not just his spectacular victories that will be remembered, but his heart, his determination, his strength, his toughness and his courageousness to always give his all during any racing event. Doug O’Neill was quoted saying: “It’s been wonderful to be around such a great champion. He’ll be missed, but I’m going to put in my vote for him to be our stable pony.”