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Smarty Jones Retires
8/5/2004... On Monday of this week the other shoe dropped. At the end of July after trainer John Servis declared Smarty Jones out of the Pennsylvania Derby -- six weeks before the race -- fans and pundits alike were left to speculate whether or not we had seen the last of Smarty on the racetrack. Now we know. We have.
A thorough physical exam yielded evidence of some chronic bruising of the cannon bones. According to Servis, "This is a fairly common injury in horses, caused by the wear and tear of racing. He would need three months rest before he should resume training. This would knock him out for the rest of the year."
Owner Roy Chapman said, "He'd start back in training about the time of the Breeders' Cup. If everything went right, he might make the Dubai World Cup, but he might not. That's just too many 'if's' for a horse of this caliber, who has done so much and who has given us so much."
And so he is being sent to the farm, never to race again.
Fans are upset. After the Triple Crown the promise was there that Smarty would take us through an exhilarating late summer and fall -- at least three more races before retiring. Plus, the connections kept hope alive for a 4YO campaign as well. So Monday's news was not taken well by the majority of fans and pundits.
Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News noted that vet Dr. Larry Bramlage, one of America's foremost horse veterinarians, who consulted on Smarty Jones, said: "The risks are minor. We bring horses back from this injury all the time... There's nothing more than this accumulated inflammation. There are no structural problems. The prognosis for full recovery is excellent. There's really nothing to worry about."
Jerardi went on:
Once Bramlage spoke on a media conference call, a lot of people wondered whether Smarty really needed to be retired. The answer is simple. He didn't. The whole deal is quite a bit more complicated.
"This shook us up," Pat Chapman said. "We just didn't want to do anything to hurt the horse."
Could Smarty be unretired?
"You never know," Servis said. "Michael Jordan came back."
Gary West of the Dallas Morning News wrote: With the announcement Monday of Smarty Jones' retirement, horse racing dug deeper its shameful hole of embarrassment. Yet another potentially great horse has been retired prematurely, before ever having the opportunity to confirm his greatness; yet another star has left the stage after uttering only a few lines. The retirement of Smarty Jones is only the latest betrayal, but it might prove the most difficult to accept.
Andy Beyer: Shouldn't [breeders] feel some responsibility to promote the well-being of the sport?
Vic Ziegel of the NY Daily News: [Roy Chapman] and his wife are offended by any suggestion they're retiring Smarty to cash in on his potential as a sire. "I'm as heartsick as everybody else," Chapman insisted. "I'd love to have seen him race at 4." He could have made it happen.
Those were just some of the opinions expressed in the press -- the fans, for the most part, were even more vocal across the internet. Here's a sampling:
Here's what Final Turn forum members had to say:
- I can't say I blame the Chapmans and I wouldn't do the same thing in their shoes, and I'm sure the pressure from Three Chimneys was a big factor, but they lying FRAUDS. All they do is drone on about how this horse is going to keep running and he's the people's horse on and on and on and on... I say to hell with it, I'm finding another sport . Been thinking about it for a long time, and this makes it all so clear.
- Why can't they just speak the truth and tell everyone that it is about the large sum of money to be made without taking the risks? The same goes for Will Farrish and all connections concerning Mineshaft last year. They make up some minor injury to keep from running him in the BCC last year. It is so wrong to deceive and even outright lie. What's wrong with the truth?
- Right now, I'd take Funny Cide over Smarty Jones based simply on the fact that he's done something against some very nice horses.
- I just realized that Funny Cide fans are lucky. Lucky because he is a gelding. If Funny Cide had been a colt, he would have been retired and shipped off to stud after the TC.
- Possibly the biggest negitive with racing is how much attention is placed on the tripple crown. Where unsound flash in the pan one hit wonders take precidence over mature, sound hard knocking steeds. The breed is weakened and the fans are disappointed.
- Bottom line people, if you were in the chapmans shoes you would all do the same.
- I'd rather see people in our sport like the Paulson kid who believes in going for the glory and proving his horse best on the race track then the Chapmans who have decided to take their horse out of circulation because they are business people first and think we will all understand their financial decision.
- IMO, the Chapman's were smart to take the money and run; Smarty might not have been worth as much down the road once the full impact of MRLS on the U.S. horse population is understood in the coming years.
- Take your popular champions retired before their prime for $$$....take your greedy owners....take your self-centered trainers who run horses into the ground to boost their egos...and keep on going the way you are, until your existing fan base dies off and the sport can just wither away.
- It happens every year. Nothing new. They come; they go. If you want to pick out a horse hero and then follow him or her for some time, do what I do: Pick out some cheap horse with a funny name or something at your favorite track and follow that one.
- Only one comparison puts Smarty's retirement in proper perspective for me. Smarty Jones is to horseracing what Barry Sanders is to football. Both achieved immortal status with winning the Kentucky Derby and the Heisman Trophy respectively. Both arguably retired in the prime of careers with a major statistical milestone within reach.
- It's too bad, but let's remember that the horse wore front wraps in all his races and was never destined for a long career.
- I am shocked at the reaction of a horse retiring for millions in the breeding shed.. Doesn't this happen every single year?? Are the owners of SJ at fault? Servis? NO!! How about the breeders willing to pay $20-30 million for him! How about the owners willing to pay the outrageous breeding costs to breed to SJ?? Like they say, don't hate the player, hate the game...
- I'm always amazed at people who think that others should run their affairs as altruistically as possible in ways they would never do in their own lives. I suppose all the Chapman's critics are doing what they can to give back to society... So get off your high horse (no pun intended) about the Chapmans. They are doing the most sensible thing possible.
- He won every race they put him in till the last He deserves to go out on top I think they are listening to their hearts.
- What gets me is the "people's horse" crap. That was and is all nonsense. They have been very dishonest about him all summer. Personally I think they are afraid of getting "found out". That he isnt Secretariat like so many have tried to make him to be. But again, they have every right to do what they are doing. To me the suckers are the ones paying $48 million.
- I am disappointed BECAUSE the Chapmans are not doing "what's best for Smarty Jones" the horse, or what's best for racing, they are making this decision primarily for financial reasons. I think they will regret it.
- I'm sick of all these 3 yr old retiring especially after just a friggin foot bruise...what is this game coming to?
- I love the horse...but this is beyond ridiculous...oh well..that's the name of the game...race em until they can get a good enough rep to breed...then they are done. I love this sport, but it makes me angry beyond belief sometimes.
- Oh well...he now just becomes another "very good"horse....no better than funny cide....will go down in history as a nice horse, but nothing special.
- And to think I was the one holding out, standing up for his connections, maintaining some optimism- I was wrong and you guys were right.
- I've known Servis and Stew off and on for 6-8 years. I got a chance to talk a bit with Servis on Delaware Oaks Day,and have seen Stew several times at Paul's Tavern in Belmar,N.J..Both had the same EXACT story: Smarty was not right at all since the Belmont... Both trainer & rider intimated that the Belmont basically killed Smarty's career,and they were hoping for a miracle in the last 2 months....which didn't come.
From a thread entitled "Anti Chapman Bandwagon" at Thoroughbred Champions:
- How about the connections that said Smarty would run at 4? How about them saying the fans were the most important aspect and that they would do whatever it took to run him at 4. So thanks for nothing Chapmans.
- I still like Servis and Smarty a great deal, but the Chapmans have lost a lot of my respect.
- I'm not happy with this any more than you are, but I saw it coming as well, it's happened before, and we will survive. Frankly, if I owned an animal worth $40 million, I wouldn't want to risk him on the track either.
- Im hoping that one of the other 3yr olds has a huge 2nd half, and bumps them out of the eclipse.
- I am NOT happy with the decision especially after sweetmouthing to the fans but I'm more unhappy that I've been forced to realize that this is the reality of the 'sport'. When the focus of the industry is on breeding and that industry is so huge that it can throw out $40 mil for a single horse what single person (particularily one owning only one or two horses) can stand up against that? How?
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