Casual race fans and hardened race goers gathered around Laurel Park's winners' circle after today's fourth race to give a rousing sendoff to Maryland-bred champion Eighttofasttocatch. The eight year old was retired from racing last weekend after notching his seventeenth career victory in the Jennings Handicap.
Owned by Sylvia Heft and her late husband Arnold and trained by Tim Keefe, Eighttofasttocatch captured three Maryland Million Classics, four Jennings Handicaps and a slew of other stakes during his storied racing career. The popular runner will move from Laurel Park to his trainer's farm in Montgomery County and start a second career as an event horse for the Keefe family.
The son of Not for Love was accompanied to the winners' circle by his best friend, a female goat named Gigi. “I think she was a big part of his career,” said Keefe. “A lot of little pieces made up his career, from the wonderful help I have in the barn, to Gigi, to Peter who rides him, Victor, Juan, Arnie, everybody. The list goes on and on. You can see how he does with her here in the winners' circle. It's not just a gimmick. She really does settle him.
“We'll point him as a three day eventer. If he doesn't take to that, maybe a show jumper, maybe a dressage horse. He's got a great mind, he's sound, he's very athletic and he loves challenges. I think he'll take to it and enjoy it.
“His stall is open and there are some possibilities (to replace him) but they're going to have some very big shoes to fill.”
Video of the ceremony can be found on the HRTV website.
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