In light of the recent Woodbine Mile (Can-IT), won in brilliant fashion by Wise Dan Sept. 16, I was reminded of another past Mile winner, Rahy's Attorney.
I'm happy to report that the Canadian fan favorite, who was retired in August 2011 after sustaining a minor leg injury in that year's Sword Dancer (gr. IT), is back to work.
According to former trainer Ian Black, Rahy's Attorney started training last week to become a track pony at Woodbine, the Ontario oval where he contested the majority of his 41 starts.
"He loves standing around, walking around the horses, and watching what's going on, so he should be great at it," Black said of the 8-year-old gelding.
Black hopes Rahy's Attorney will officially assume his new role by the end of Woodbine's racing season in early December. Plans then call for the gelding to be sent to Payson Park, a Thoroughbred training center in Indiantown, Fla., to work for the winter.
Rahy's Attorney, learning to be a track pony
"His whole life, he's always been happier when he's in training than he was when he was turned out," said Black of Rahy's Attorney, who earned more than $2.1 million during his race career. "He loves (working as a track pony)...he feels like he's back doing something and he looks like a very happy horse. We have him walking and jogging around the track and he's really enjoying it."
Rahy's Attorney, a son Crown Attorney, was bred in Ontario by Joe and Ellen MacLellan's Ellie Boje Farms and was campaigned by that operation in partnership with Joe's mother Jean MacLellan, Mitch Peters, and Dean Read.
Rahy's Attorney was named the Canadian male turf champion in 2008, the year he captured the Woodbine Mile. He also counts the 2008 Connaught Cup (Can-III), and 2009 Nijinsky (Can-IIT) and King Edward Handicap (Can-IIT) among his victories. He set the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine course record in the King Edward, running the distance in 1:44.73.
Following a courageous second in the 2011 Sword Dancer, Rahy's Attorney was put on stall rest for several months to recover from his injury, a lesion in his digital tendon, at Black's Kinghaven Farms near King City, Ontario.
"After that, he was turned out a couple of months, and then we started riding him," said Black. "He loves attention and he has a great personality. We've now put him back in the stall (at Woodbine) where he was stabled when he was running and he looks out the window watching everybody, and he's happy."
Back where he belongs: Rahy's Attorney in his old stall at Woodbine; photo by Beverley Smith
There were no pipe dreams of grandeur when the MacLellans paid $3,000 to breed their mare Rahy's Hope with local Ontario stallion Crown Attorney.
The operation owners simply hoped the mating with that stallion would produce a healthy foal who could develop into a runner. Even at age 2, Black told the MacLellans there wasn't a hint of stakes potential in the resulting foal, Rahy's Attorney.
After five graded stakes victories and a Sovereign Award, however, the multi-millionaire gelding proved to be far more than anyone thought he would become.
"As a racehorse, he was always the underdog," said Ellen MacLellan. "He never got credit for some of the things he did. I think it was because he was a homebred and Ontario-sired. But at Woodbine he was certainly a big star.
"He was our first horse to the track, so that was pretty exciting for us as a mom-and-pop operation. We're proud of our boy."
MacLellan is glad Rahy's Attorney is training for another career as he's struggled with boredom from being on stall rest and turned out in a paddock by himself over the last year.
To make matters worse, after his racing injury had healed, Rahy's Attorney sustained another injury in his paddock last November--a hairline fracture on a hind leg--and was forced to go on stall rest once again.
"He's real curious, always has his head up, and ears pricked forward to see what's going on," said MacLellan. "It's been such a tough year for him to be stuck in a stall for so long."
Rahy's Attorney always relished life at the track. While being turned out during the winters to rest, it seemed as if he was longing for a job to do.
Rahy's Attorney in his paddock at Kinghaven
"There was so much action at the track...in the mornings when he would gallop, his exercise rider would take him around to the finish line at Woodbine and he'd stand there for 20 minutes if you'd let him, just watching the other horses," said MacLellan. "He looked like the king, with his head up, watching everybody go by."
Rahy's Attorney at Kinghaven Farms
MacLellan said the day after Black's assistant, Skippy Bowen, tweeted that Rahy's Attorney was back at the track, more than two dozen people showed up on the backstretch to see the gelding in his new role.
"He's a very friendly horse; he doesn't have a mean bone in his body," said MacLellan. "He loves attention and mints and he likes waiting to see who is going to come visit him. He has lots of personality; everybody loved him and still does."
Click here to visit Rahy's Attorney's facebook page. Click here to read an excellent article about the gelding, written by Canadian Beverley Smith of The Globe and Mail.
Were you a Rahy's Attorney fan? I can't help but be one now!
Rahy's Attorney; photo by Beverley Smith