The 12-year-old gelding's name still suits him. “No Brakes” doesn't like to do anything slowly, from eating his dinner to moving across his pasture at the Virginia Tech Foundation's Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center (MARE).
“Brakey” developed quite the fan following during his eight years on the racetrack. In 111 starts, the Maryland-bred son of Parker's Storm Cat won 22 times, finished second 24 times, and 17 times finished third. In all, No Brakes earned $437,978.
He earned it the hard way. Fifth on debut for a claiming tag of $16,000, No Brakes broke his maiden at the same level in his fifth career start. By 2011, the gelding was racing for a $5,000 tag.
Wayne Potts first met No Brakes when girlfriend Katherine Sancuk claimed him in March of his 6-year-old season. Three starts later, the gelding won a $25,000 starter stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.
He ran 34 starts under Sancuk's care, with Thomas Freed joining the ownership during that time. No Brakes then changed hands another eight times before Potts and Freed claimed him for $4,000 on Aug. 29, 2015.
“When you watch this horse in the morning, he's like a little kid,” Potts told the Maryland Jockey Club. “You can't jog him in the morning. You have to gallop him. You have to back him up about a quarter mile and turn him around, and he's all business.”
In February of 2017, Potts made the difficult decision to retire No Brakes when the gelding put in several bad starts in a row.
“He's like my kid,” said the veteran trainer. “I was with him on and off for six years. I miss him every day.”
At first, No Brakes had a hard time adjusting to life away from the racetrack. He kept trying to incorporate his racing antics into the hunter/jumper training.
Potts decided that No Brakes needed time to just be a horse. Lead Research and Outreach Manager Bridget Lincoln took the horse in at Virginia Tech's MARE Center as a part of a feed and nutrition study that lasted six months, and No Brakes has been relaxing in a lush pasture all his own since that study ended.
“He was a little aggressive when he first got here,” Lincoln recalled. “We turned him out with several other horses, and he settled down pretty quickly. Now he's so sweet with people, and all the students that meet him just love him!”
Lincoln also expressed hope the down time will allow No Brakes to settle down and be mentally prepared for his post-racing career under saddle.
“He's doing really well now, getting blanketed and groomed every day,” she continued. “The next study is a light exercise study, so he's being considered for that as well. But he'll have a home for as long as they want him here.”
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