Thursday, January 10, 2008

The World's Oldest Maiden

Teddy & I had hoped to do something special for post #100 of the Gazette, but we're both to self-absorbed and wrapped up in work to put anything cohesive together at the moment. Maybe we'll do it for #101. Because this is too good a nugget to let go by:

Belated debut for 10-year-old

This is not an article on Shawn Kemp's 23rd son, this is a horse that's running for the first time when he's ten years old. TEN! For those not familiar with the normal life progress/schedule of a race horse, here's a brief synopsis of the typical development of a horse:

2 years old: Precocious horses start making their debuts in April, many others debut this year.
3 years old: Many more debut this year, others run in Triple Crown races. By September, the best are considered good enough to compete against "older" horses. Any 3yo that's any good is retired after this year (see Street Sense).
4-5 years old: Peak years of athleticism, maturity and fitness for a horse.
6-7 years old: Declining years for a horse. If you're still running at this point, you either aren't very good, or are gelded and have no stud value.
8 years old: The Tom Glavines of racing.
9 years old: The Charlie Houghs of racing.
10 years old: The Julio Francos of racing.
11+ years old: The Satchel Paiges of racing.

So starting a horse this old for the first time is even more far-fetched than Dennis Quaid getting a shot in the big leagues. It's just utterly ridiculous. And what the hell could keep a horse from running for so long?

Perez said he had heard a litany of ailments that delayed Sovereign Sigh's first start: sickness at 3, bucked shins at 4, this, that, and the other thing. "But once you get them over that hump, you're good to go," said [trainer] Perez.

This that and the other thing clearly lead to keeping a horse off the track for a quarter of his natural life. Well, after 8+ years to prepare, he should be ready to go, right?
"This horse can run, but I wish I had one more work in him," he said.
Ah. Maybe not. If you're at Hawthorne on Friday, bet against, as Zippy Chippy is not in his race.

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