Horse of the Year Havre de Grace retired with injury, to be sold

by | 04.23.2012 | 1:47pm
Havre de Grace

Owner Rick Porter reported today that Horse of the Year Havre de Grace has been retired following the detection of an injured ligament. On the Fox Hill Farm website, Porter writes

“It is with great disappointment that I have to announce that Havre de Grace has been retired.”

“After her work yesterday at Churchill, a little heat was noted in her right front ankle.  Still there this morning, Grace was sent to Rood & Riddle to be seen by Dr. Larry Bramlage.  Unfortunately, we didn't get a positive prognosis for continuing her racing career.”

“Owning Grace through her racing career has been the highlight of my time in horse racing.  She was a wonderful, wonderful racehorse, and I feel confident she'll be an equally wonderful broodmare.   Thanks, Grace, for all you gave us, and here's to a long and enjoyable retirement.”

Porter told the Blood-Horse Monday that the 5-year-old daughter of Saint Liam would either be sold privately or go through the sales ring this fall.

“I have a good ballpark figure (in mind) of what she's worth,” Porter said. “We'll have to see if someone wants to buy her before she goes through a sale so that they don't have to go through a bidding war. If two of us can get together, we will; if we don't, she'll go through a sale.”

In his report, Dr. Bramlage said with the one injured ligament, the remaining ligaments supporting the fetlock would progressively become more vunerable and susceptible to further injury.

“In a lesser horse we would rehabilitate, probably using stem cell therapy, but it takes a year to fully resolve, and it usually reduces a horse's quality.  In her instance this is not acceptable, and so we should probably stop her race career.  She needs 60 days of stall rest and hand walking before turning out.  She needs no special therapy if we are not going to train again as the remaining ligaments are intact because this was identified so early in the course of the problem.  She will be fine as a broodmare.”

Click here to view a copy of the vet report.

Click here to view Havre de Grace's lifetime past performances, courtesy of Equibase.

  • Francis Bush

    The trainer was a little slow in recognizing the likelihood of injury in this fine mare. I commented on this possibility approximately 3 months ago. Let’s hope nothing else happens to her. What a magnificient race mare

  • This is such sad news :(
    But I have to Thank God, this is not a life threatening injury. 

  • Gogogunther

    Francis, I can not believe you would post such an absurd comment as this about a horseman as fine as Larry Jones!!!!
    Most other
    Trainers would not have acted as quickly as Larry did! which in turn keeps it from being more serious and possibly life threatening ! Thanks Larry, Rick and mostly Gracie for all the great races and many memories. Good luck Gracie!!!

  •  That statement shows the class of a toad, and about as clueless as one, too. Go back and read the vet report from Dr. Bramlage, will you!

  • Whats Up With This??

    I guess porter saw the fanfare and exposure the two previous HOTY are garnering since they’ve foaled so now he wants to rush HDG to the breeding shed so he can start publicating his foal next year.   I will bet you she is bred within the next couple of months and it will more than likely be with Bernadini.  only the hottest sire out there.

  • Bhope

    Weight did finally break her down.  What a shame !

  • Harry Buchanan

    Very very sad news. Just goes to show how fragile thoroughbreds and their legs can cause damage to themselves  and especially champions. Best of luck in retirement.

  • James Staples

    meet Larry @ Delaware Park…one hell of a HUMAN & one hell of a HORSEMAN…great luck n the future fore HAVRE de GRACE!!!…& all of her connections… 

  • Joe

    She is one of the lucky horses. Thank you for sharing the vet report with us!

  • Rachel

    Wonderful filly, great connections, she’ll be missed on the track for sure…

  • Ida Lee

    I can’t believe it!! I just finished looking at Havre being paraded before hundred of people taking pictures of this incredible beauty and athlete and Havre justing posing like the Superstar she is and then I come to the PR before going home from work and see the first headline.  I’m in shock and devastated that I won’t see my beloved Mare racing again but I’m so grateful that this was caught so early and she will be fine.  One bit of advice for the lovely Broodmare to be…stay away from Bernardini…that horse is a dog…just ask Zenyatta, Rachel and Blind Luck, among others. 

  • Noelle

    Such sad news – I was looking forward to seeing her run again this year.  But I’m glad they’re so positive she has a good life ahead of her.

  • Hillsdale

    Well, when you have a 180 pound exercise rider (Larry Jones) what would you expect.  And if Porter loves her so much, why is he in such a hurry to sell her.  I guess it is all about the money!

  • RayPaulick

     You are entitled to your opinion, but so am I, and I’m willing to put my name on it, unlike you.

    Rick Porter funds his racing stable and yearling/2-year-old purchases by developing stars and selling them as stallion or broodmare prospects. That is his business plan. He puts up his money: what, exactly, do you put up?

    As for Mr. Porter being in a hurry to sell and it being “all about the money,” if that were true Havre de Grace would have been retired at the end of 2011 and would be in foal right now.


    GREAT HORSE, fine connections.  Guest, your comment was removed, therefore it must have been uncalled for and truly negative.  It would take a moron to degrade a group like this and the horse. So I say– YOU ARE A MORON!!

  • Lisanky1

    This is total BS!! For shame!! A thoroughbred can carry a person the size of Mr Jones effortlessly! Jumpers carry riders his size over 6ft fences! Her connections are a classy bunch and to attack them, especially now, shows nothing but a lack of class on your part!

  • RayPaulick

    Thank you.

  • Dylan clarke

    Very nice filly sad to see her go but this is horse racing they all must go into another career eventually at least she will be able to do something that will be productive for the sport of horse racing

  • JC

    God bless, what a beautiful horse, and may she be well-taken care of as a broodmare.  I hope she is sold to the right person, and not just the highest bidder.   I probably speak for others here, too, in saying I look forward to meeting her foals.  xoxoxo 

  • wallyhorse

    It is unfortunate, but it may also explain in better detail why Porter/Jones skipped the Apple Blossom.  They might have known something was up, but they could not pinpoint what it was until this happened.

    This is one of those there was nothing they could do.  At least she will be able to produce as a broodmare, which is important overall.

  • Upstart

    Seriously, are you for real.  And what kind of job lets you surf the internet?

  • Terri Zeitz

    Dear Mr. Porter– I am saddened about Gracie’s injury. She really is special.
    There are two top potential owners:  Mr. and Mrs. William Warren, Jr. and Mr. William Farish, of Lane’s End. The Warren’s owned Grace’s sire, Saint Liam; after his untimely death, they purchased as many of his foals as they could. I am sure that he would love to own his daughter who so resembles her sire.
    And I would bet, Mr. Farish will go in on the deal for her. She surely is daddy’s girl.
    If you contact Mr. Farish, he will make it happen. Wishing you and the Jones’ all the best.

  • desertrailrat

    Geez, don’t want to get censored or chewed out by everyone who loves and has met these connections but……..Larry is too big to ride young fillies, sorry but true.  These connections caused so much heartache for everybody, every racing lifer who watched the Big Brown/Eight Belles Derby debacle had to answer so many questions of “why?” from teary eyed wives, children, and casual fans all of us invited over for juleps and Derby pie.  The answer was obvious to us, a simple Equineline 5 cross spells out the rock hard evidence.  These guys didn’t care and rolled the dice with our sport again last year on Breeders Cup day, and were rewarded with an award only fit for champions who take on all comers and vanquish them soundly which she did not, and continued to not do until her retirement.  She was a great female racehorse, and I am so happy to see her off to the breeding shed, but as long as owners like Porter continue to purchase and put straight in the public eye beautiful and poorly bred horses (Old Fashioned?) without one regard for the consequences to the sport as a whole or the breed as a whole, I guess I will be the odd man out here, and happily so.    

  • Don Reed

    Well said, Ray.  Rick’s personality is what rankles and prompts these distempered comments, which, none the less, should be signed with a real name (as if we’d know who the “real name” is!).

  • Don Reed

    “Rick Porter Puts Thumb On Scale” – headline, the Paranoid Times.

  • Elktonstable

    I was very sorry to learn this news. Well done to the Havre de Grace contingent for developing and campaigning this mare for all of us to enjoy and remember. Also well done for averting disaster by being vigilant.  As everybody with any intelligence knows, horses are not machines and racing is a high stress, high risk endeavor that makes a horses career tentative at best. Having shared the same barn with Larry Jones and his helpers, I would have to say that this mare had among the best care and mangement available to any racehorse today. 

  • Don Reed

    Strong letter to follow.

  • was the Bernardini comment a joke?

  • Smitty

    One thing for sure in life is that if you hit something hard enough it will break.That is why most people use 130 pound exercise riders on these immature horses.

  • alspharmd

    This whole deal about 180 lbs being too much weight for a thoroughbred is total BS.  Where do you guys get this stuff?  Armchair jockeys who sit at home pontificating about how and why things should be done?

  • Elktonstable

    Your hypothesis regarding weight reveals a limited knowledge of what horses are capable of. Foxhunters regularly carry 250 lbs or more for up to eight hours a day several days a week for years without serious injury. Many famous European trainers prefer heavier riders for basic work (P.J.Prendegast et al.) with excellent results and no injuries. Steeplechasers and hurdlers regularly carry 154lbs or more without mishap.  These weights can go as high as 190lbs or more for two and  three mile trips at better than a two minute clip over fences exceeding four feet. So please, don’t even indicate that weight was a factor in the injury leading to the retirement of Havre de Grace. Jone’s horses are conditioned with weights like that and he has had excellent success with many of them. On a final note, I do not think too many experienced trainers would disagree that a bad 100lb rider can finish a horse off in a heartbeat. Spare us all the stupid physics please, thoroughbreds are strong and adaptable and capable of great things when conditioned right, Havre de Grace is one example of many.

  • Mlmartin

    please explain why if weight doesn’t mean anything did her connections go out of their way to carry a little weight as they could when she ran.

  • roseann cherasaro

    Yes Mr. Porter does put his money back into the business..look at what he spent just this year.I have followed this team for years..they always seem to do the right thing.I am sure that most would not know that they have been taking care of their own way before the recent outcry.They have placed horses and put them up on the forum to find homes for some that either can’t race or were hurt and not able to race with detailed vet records on each horse.I am not talking about the big names here but the ones you never hear about so I stand behind them because they take care of their own.Let’s face it Grace will bring a pretty penny to one who hopefully will choose the right stallion while Rick keeps on trucking with his stable.It is a business in the end and how well I know sometimes you gotta let go.

  • Michtay14

    So glad she will be okay, and excited to see her babies! She did her daddy proud. :)

  • I feel bad for both Rick Porter and Larry Jones. They both have had the rug pulled out from under them. Please show them compassion and mercy when you write comments regarding Havre de Grace. She gave us all so much excitement when she raced and now the time has come for a new chapter in her life. I wish her the best, and my heart goes out to Rick & Larry, who love her so dearly. We ALL should be grateful for the thrill we had watching her over the years, and be thankful she has the opportunity to continue her legacy, now as a broodmare.
    I hope and pray whoever her new owners will be, will love her as much as Mr Porter does.
    Sincerely, Pattie from South Carolina

  • Tallstar2006

    damn straight – tons of super exercise guys who weigh 125-130lbs – the guy – Jones is an ego-maniac! Now two great fillies have broken down up-front.

  • RayPaulick

    Bruce Headley in California did the same thing for decades…he’s about the same size as Larry Jones, and no one ever raised an eyebrow over it.

    Why don’t you Monday Morning Trainers stick to what you do best…and I can only speculate what that is…and let professional horsemen like Larry Jones do his job without this mindless, insensitive and offensive second-guessing.

  • Lisanky1


  • I can’t speak for Ida Lee, but I am self employed (Real Estate ) and since it is slow at work, I surf the Paulick Report & other Thoroughbred Websites just to stay informed on all the news. I don’t make much money with today’s economy, but I LOVE my job, which allows me to read the Racing Blogs :)

  • roseann cherasaro

    Because it would have set a standard for the rest of the year and they thought Plum Pretty was not assigned enough.It is their horse and every trainer makes a stink over’s part of their job.Thankfully she didn’t run weight or not that injury may not have been detected but it could have been starting so the racing gods were looking out for her and she is still in one piece.

  • swaps55

    Porter reflects the diversity of racing.  He will take his Havre de Grace money, minus capital gains taxes, and try to buy another Great Horse which he already has one of.

    Owners like Jerry Moss hold on to the Great Horse and try to breed another one from it.

    The diversity in racing  is great.  You can pay a thousand bucks and win a Lexington Stakes or pay a few hundred thousand and win a Kentucky Derby and you can spend $6 million and get a horse that has trouble keeping up with a monkey…exagerating of course. 

    You can even buy a horse to help a guy out, get another horse thrown in for free, and win a Breeders Cup Sprint and a millon bucks along the way.

    The stories seem endless. Lil E Tee, sold by a breeder at a significant loss for $2,000…then sold privately after an auction company rejected him as unsellable…then he wins the Derby and over a million.  Funnycide….the feel good story.  All these speculators…occasionally striking gold. 

    But just as important are the collectors who will pay the price for a made Great Horse.  If Porter wants to give a collector the chance to own a Great Horse… that is his right and he can be commended for sharing.

    Good look to the speculators and the collectors… may they all come out ahead.   And thanks for the drama and stories you entertain us with…along with the horses…great and not so great. 


  • Convene

    This is a tragedy – but a much greater one averted by Larry Jones and Rick Porter’s keen eyes and impeccable integrity. My heart goes out to all parties concerned. No team has earned their success with this remarkable filly more, or endured more on their journey to the heights Gracie attained. I wish all of them much more success as their journeys continue with new stars and I wish Gracie a happy retirement. Hopefully we will see her name in the pedigrees of stars yet unborn – for many generations to come. Thanks Havre de Grace for the thrills and delights. Thank you Team Fox Hill for sharing her with us, her fans.

  • Convene

    This is a tragedy – but a much greater one averted by Larry Jones and
    Rick Porter’s keen eyes and impeccable integrity. My heart goes out to
    all parties concerned. No team has earned their success with this
    remarkable filly more, or endured more on their journey to the heights
    Gracie attained. I wish all of them much more success as their journeys
    continue with new stars and I wish Gracie a happy retirement. Hopefully
    we will see her name in the pedigrees of stars yet unborn – for many
    generations to come. Thanks Havre de Grace for the thrills and delights.
    Thank you Team Fox Hill for sharing her with us, her fans. 

  • Convene

     One of the things that builds solid bone is stress – such as regularly (keyword regularly) a weight in excess of that required in a race. Larry Jones is no heavier than hunters and jumpers and horses engaged in most fields of endeavor carry every time they go out. Routinely carrying weight strengthens bones, muscles and tendons and equips the horse very well to handle the rigors of racing under post-time weights. As for selling Gracie, making champions and selling them to people whose focus is breeding is how Rick Porter finances his racing operations. He is not really a breeder; he’s a racing man who understands that the best results come from doing what we do best. Would that everyone acted so wisely! Sorry to disagree but it’s what I have learned.

  • James Staples

    don’t know about that guest…but…TOADS R OK BY ME!!!…

  • HorsesRGR8

    I wiegh 190+ and I have been riding my OTT 19 year old 15.2 hand TB for many years without any problems. I wonder if PETA would think this animal is being abused.

  • Ida Lee

    I very much agree with your reply.  I was incredibly hurt and shocked to hear of Havre’s injury and her being up for sale. It bothers me when it happens with ALL of my favorites because deep down inside I see these stars of racing as pets. BUT, as much as we may love them, they are a BUSINESS. And Mr. Porter explained it quite clearly which by the way he didn’t have to…he doesn’t owe us anything. Just giving us the joy of racing Havre has been more than enough. As to Larry Jones exercising/riding his horses, even I know that 180 on a 1,000+ lb horse is hardly a problem. Larry is one of our best trainers and I for one will not be second guessing him on anything having to do with training horses. I’ve known great joy and great sorrow with Larry. He’s one of my favories not only as a trainer but as a person who obviously loves horses just like I do. 

  • Greg Jones

    Wow, some of the comments regarding Mr. Porter and Mr. Jones are quite comical, and show a complete lack of common sense.  Any horse on the track would be lucky to have either man behind them, both class A people. 

    Wishing the champion, that Havre de Grace is, nothing but the best down the road and hope she stays here in the United States.

  • JC

     I’d love to see that happen. 

  •  Ray, isn’t it laughable how these people who have never trained a star thoroughbred have the nerve and ignorance to question Jones’ techniques, as if they are the experts?! Pathetic, insensitive and ludicrous! He’s forgotten more about horses than these critics who hide behind their computers will ever hope of knowing. So, instead of spewing insensitive comments lacking compassion and knowledge, why don’t you listen to those who have actually walked the road. You just might learn something. ;-)

  • Upstart

    Spent alot of time on the backstretch at Delaware Park have you Janice?  BTW how is Cindy doing after that farm accident with the yearling?

  • Upstart

    Been out there doing a lot of 2 minute licks, 9 and change furlongs have you?  I see where this is relevant. 

  • Upstart

    No, this IS NOT A TRAGEDY.  A tragedy is when the word SNAPS is used in conjunction with TB racehorse (QH racehorse for that matter).  Ruffian’s last race was a tragedy.  Go For Wand’s last race was a tragedy.  And if you want to know about the heart of a champion consider Ruffian struggling on, digging the broken end of her foreleg repeatedly into the track or Go For Wand struggling on for the finish line as Randy lay seriously hurt in the stretch at Belmont.  Drachma’s last race at Saratoga was a tragedy for him and the future for Chris…George Washington (IRE) at Monmouth and countless known and unknown in between.  Tone down the hyperbole, save the sadness and prayers, this is just a horse being retired for which there was a clue when she bypassed the Apple Blossom.

  •  You sound happy Cindy had that injury??? Sure hope I’m wrong — otherwise, that is a classless and ugly comment, one you would only expect from a toad, and a pretty scummy one at that. ;-)

  • dh

    If weight isn’t important, then why do racing secretaries make such a big deal about a horse carrying 122 or for a lower price carry 119, or 3yos carry 118 and older horses carry 123, why? because it matters. As a great trainer once said it doesn’t matter the first quarter, but it damn sure matters the last quarter. Larry Jones may be a fine trainer but him galloping the horses is just saying “Look at me, its all about me”. There is no way carrying 180 lbs. is beneficial to the horse, this why jockeys and ex-riders are riding 99 % of the horses in the morning at the tracks I train at. As far as jump horses carrying high weight (usually 160 tops) those horses barely break a fast gallop until the last 200 yds. Larry Jones knows better but he just wants to impress the ones that don’t, like most of the bloggers on PR, and as luck would have it someone else will give him another nice horse to ride and ruin.

  • Elktonstable

    Tactical weight in a handicap is an entirely different matter than training weight.

  • Convene

     Amen! And again – amen.

  • Upstart

    It’s ok to have the funeral for Grace and to cannonize Larry and Rick but don’t you dare ask how Cindy is doing after her accident 2 and a half weeks ago…because chances are a newbie will cop a ‘tude and get your ar$e censored/comment removed.  A hundred apologies Janice for whatever it was that offended you so.  Thought with all your Mid Atlantic/Fox Hill Farm interests you would have known how Cindy was doing and that I might have run into you on the DE Park backstretch where I know Cindy and Larry from.  The overreaction of your response is…well… unfathomable.  But you have made me famous…no one who knows me can believe I was censored at the PR.  For those who would like to know,  from calls today,  Cindy is at home in Henderson KY and is doing ok.  (See article at by Marty Magee 4/11/12 “Difficult Week for Jones’ Family” detailing how Cindy broke 3 ribs, an arm and dislocated her shoulder in an accident at their Arkansas farm working with a yearling.)  Feel better Cindy. 

  •  Thank you, Ray, for removing that insensitive and moronic comment. Boy, the roaches come out from under the woodwork at the darkest of times it seems, don’t they??? ;-)

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram