Lava Man turned 18 on January 1.
One of the most profitable claims in racing history, the old gelding has earned his keep as a pony since 2010, escorting the likes of 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another to and from the track to exercise for trainer Doug O'Neill.
Lava Man still ushers four or five horses to the track every day, according to long-time O'Neill assistant Leandro Mora.
“He adjusted well and likes his job,” Mora said. “He's an important part of Team O'Neill.”
Claimed for $50,000 in August of 2004, Lava Man went on to win seven Grade I events and earn more money than any other claiming horse in history retiring with 17 wins from 47 starts, with earnings of $5,268,706.
The dark bay California-bred son of Slew City Slew won back-to-back runnings of the Santa Anita Handicap in 2006 and 2007, swept three consecutive editions of the Hollywood Gold Cup (2005-2007), was named champion California Horse of the Year in 2006 and 2007, California Champion Older Horse in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and California Champion Turf Horse in 2006.
Affectionately known as “Coach” at the O'Neill barn, Lava Man is a member of both the California Hall of Fame and the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
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