This pre-Christmas blog has two purposes: to commemorate the career of the recently retired hard knocking stallion Eagle Time and to provide you guys with the opportunity to win an awesome Blood-Horse calendar. Consider it my Christmas present to you!
You may have heard of Eagle Time, a remarkable 14-year-old horse whose final start was a 1 1/2-length victory at Thistledown Oct. 1. While The Blood-Horse did run a story about his retirement, it kind of got lost in the shuffle. Because I feel like Eagle Time didn’t receive the credit he deserved, I contacted his owner/trainer Rick Jordan for a little inside information and personal photos.
In addition to being the oldest horse to ever win at Thistledown, Eagle Time also holds the record as the oldest horse to score at River Downs. The son of Light of Morn was honored for that feat in a winner’s circle celebration at the Cincinnati-area track in October.
Eagle Time and his connections at his retirement party at River Downs, photos by Melody Jordan
Jordan will now stand Eagle Time at his farm near Dillsboro, Ind., for $1,500 in 2012. He’s an old pro at that job, though, as he has sired a handful of foals since 2005. Eagle Time was first retired from racing to become a stallion in 2004. He was sent back to the track five years later, however, due to lack of interest from outside mare owners and the fact he still showed vigor for a regular work routine.
Eagle Time finally exited racing for good this fall with a record of 16-20-12 from 82 starts and earnings of $277,396. Among his victories were the 2000 Texas Derby at Sunland Park and the 2003 Memorial Day Handicap at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.
During his nine seasons of racing, Eagle Time campaigned at 10 different tracks in five states and logged nearly 200,000 miles behind Jordan’s pick-up truck.
From left to right: Shelbi Kurtz (granddaughter of Rick Jordan), Eagle Time, Butch Jones (groom)
When Scot Gilles wrote a blog about Eagle Time in 2009, there were mixed reviews about whether the horse should still be racing at such an old age in addition to moonlighting as a stud.
I asked Jordan how Eagle Time had maintained the resilience to fulfill both tasks at his age, even ending his racing career with one final victory.
“He was just a very sound horse and he had a very good mind…you could breed him and race him and it didn’t bother him any,” said Jordan of Eagle Time, who has sired nine foals since 2006, two of which—Sir Jim and Eagle Won--are winners. Eagle Time is booked to six mares so far for 2012.
Jordan, who bought Eagle Time as a 2-year-old, said he had been told the horse was the oldest in training in the continental United States in 2011.
Jordan picked Eagle Time out of the 1999 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training. He was bought through Loy Kempthorne for $4,000 from Clare Silva, agent.
“I liked him as an individual,” Jordan said. “He had enough breeding for me…I didn’t give much for him, but he turned out to be a nice horse.”
Bred in Florida by Silva, Eagle Time’s sire, Light of Morn, was a two-time stakes winner in England, while his dam, Telina, a winning daughter of El Gran Senor, is a half sister to five winners and is from the family of group I victor Starsky (by Selkirk).
Telina has produced 10 named foals, seven of which are winners, including other stakes winner Power Strokin (by Robyn Dancer). She is also the dam of stakes-placed runners Mecke’s Queen and Mecke Monster (by by Mecke) and stakes producer Babb’s Be Good (by Navarone).
According to Jordan, Eagle Time had the looks and personality to match his racing abilities.
During his retirement celebration at River Downs, Eagle Time was presented with a carrot cake decorated with 14 carrots, one for each year of his life. By the way he stood proudly in the winner's circle with his muscular frame, he looked more like a 3-year-old.
Rick Jordan feeding carrot cake to Eagle Time at his retirement party at River Downs
“Wherever he was racing, there was always a crowd there for him; he was a crowd pleaser,” said Jordan. “He won more races after he was 12 than most horses win all their lives.”
Jordan said Eagle Time is still “Very nice to be around. He’s been like that all his life…you can put him wherever you want, turn him out in the paddock 18 feet away from mares, and he will not have a fit. He’s just a good, level-headed horse.”
Shelbi Kurtz and Butch Jones spend a special moment with Eagle Time
In spite of his obvious connection with Eagle Time, Jordan, who currently has six horses in training at Turfway Park, said he would sell the horse if the right offer came. “He would have to go to someone who had mares of their own for their own private stallion,” said Jordan, whose son and daughter-in-law stand nine stallions at their nearby Breakway Farm.
To win a free 2012 Blood-Horse calendar, leave a comment telling me who your all-time favorite older horse is (past or present) and why. I will select a name at random on Thursday, Dec. 22 and will ship your calendar to you that afternoon so you'll be all set for the New Year. The calendar has beautiful photos for each month, many of which were taken by our photographer Anne Eberhardt and depict pivotal moments in the Thoroughbred world in 2011.
Best of luck and happy holidays to all!
Eagle Time in all his 14-year-old glory