January 6, 2010

Lava Man's Fiasco

I wish neither to defend the decision to return Lava Man to the races nor do I wish to praise the decision to retire him. Rather I am here to ask a simple question to his connections: If the decision was made to bring him back to the races after a year and a half retirement, why not give him a chance?

He is an exceptional horse who accomplished countless great things and he deserved his retirement, especially considering the condition of his legs. I fully understand why so many racing liberals (for lack of a better word) actively petitioned against his return to the races. For safety sake. He has accomplished more than enough to live out the rest of his life of R&R. Fair enough, I will not disagree.

Lava Man underwent stem cell treatment that revitalized his legs. He was once again primed to be the great athlete we saw in his glory years, or so we were told by his connections. He would be a stakes horse again and purse winnings would go to good horse causes. He was a horse who missed the action and rush of the races, and simply was not happy as a retiree. Fair enough, I will not disagree.

I will disagree however, with the decision to bring him back and then retire him after one race. He led for much of the recent Grade 2 San Gabriel, only to fade in the lane. He finished last in the field of seven, but was he embarrassed? No. He lost by just over six lengths to a couple of very good turf horses. Lava Man was short. After 18 months off…what a surprise! If he improved, as most horses coming back from a long layoff do, who knows what he could have done in the California handicap division. We will never know, he was not given a chance to show us.

Lava Man is a great horse who deserved better. They could have done two things to do right by the horse. Leave him in retirement the first time and find a way to keep him happy, or bring back the horse with renewed vitality and give him a real opportunity to see what he could do. They chose neither. Too bad.



Photo by Marti Guzman

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Diane:

I think they realized it was a big mistake--plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

He is a great horse and deserves to retire in glory.
Lava Man should go to Old Friends
like he was going to do when he retired the first time.

tjreyn01 said...

He will always bring a smile to my face just hearing his name. Kind of reeled me back in when I had faded away a little bit. Now I'm back to a die hard fan skipping weddings and birthdays to watch races. Thank you for all you did Lava Man! As much as I hope to have you in KY, I know where you really belong is in Cali.

Marti said...

I understand their decision. I don't LIKE it, but I understand it. Thanks for giving him a more objective mention Brian.

There's been SO much unfounded hysterics over his return, and re-retirement, it was nice to read something that wasn't cheering for his very life like they had a gun to his head, nor bashing the hell out of his connections in an ugly fashion, though I realize you disagree with their decision.

As a fan and a friend of "the barn camp", my thanks!

Celeste said...

While I can understand their decision, I get your point that he could have been rested and tried at least one more time to see if the fire was still there or not. However, I am not around the horse, do not know any of the details of how he behaved after the race, if he came back sore at all or anything - it's all pure speculation, so I'll have to asssume they know what they're doing. I simply wish him the best.

railrunner said...

Good post, I was hoping they would try him one more time, but he deserves his retirement.

Jockey Agent Lou said...

i agree totally, why not finish what was started?

ja.raymond said...

My money is on the idea that they were looking for instant gratification in his first time back and when they didnt get it, they spit the bit on the whole thing.
Furthermore, the back & forth is just gonna make it harder for him to wind down. Hopefully, they'll leave him in the pasture this time.

Nice, impartial write Brian! Marti, that's a great pic of him!

Jen W. said...

Brian, you're right. If you are going to UN-retire a horse, you probably should give him more than one chance...what was the whole point then? These are racehorses, that's their job. As much as we love them, this is what they do. If you make a decision to bring them back, then at least do it in a more constrructive and thought out plan.
If you ask me, IF I were to bring a great horse back out of retirement, I wouldn't stick him in a G2 right away! Let him come back easy...an Allowance, a minor Stake...let him get his bearings and see how well he can handle it. THEN, you move on from there. Too many owners tend to get too impatient. Horses are living, breathing creatures. They are NOT machines. It's NOT a car you are racing.
Nice article, Brian! I like that point of view. ;-)

LDP said...

I wish they had given him one more race. Baze was happy with the effort and even said he only go tired. He didn't get blown out of the water either. Whatever, I wish the old boy a happy retirement, no matter what, he deserves one.

Anonymous said...

How about an update on Lava Man? The last I heard he was just hanging out at the track as he does not possess the desired traits of a "pony horse".

Brian Zipse said...

I will try to get some fresh info...