Largely considered to be the greatest claim in the history of thoroughbred racing, Lava Man has been retired after a brief comeback attempt. The gelding faded to last after setting the pace in the Grade 2 San Gabriel last month. Trainer Doug O’Neill said he came out of the race very tired and that Lava Man wasn’t fit enough for the race. He drank a bunch of water after the race, but O’Neill sounded excited about the future which now will involve something other than racing.
“I’ve thought a lot since that last race,” Steve Kenly said of the San Gabriel. “We were expecting more out of him. His ankles were better, but the thing that probably caught up with him was time.”
“We said that if he couldn’t compete at the highest level, we wouldn’t continue. That’s what made this decision possible. Obviously, he lost a step. It was his first race back in a year and a half. When the running really started, he couldn’t keep pace with the better horses.”-Daily Racing Form
The above quote is from Steve Kenly who co-owns Lava Man along with Dave Kenly, Tracy Kenly, and Jason Wood. I always hate to criticize owners and trainers, because its easy for me to sit here on the sidelines and say I would’ve done something different. However, I think Lava Man would’ve been better off competing in a California bred allowance race first off the shelf. Very few horses can return after time off and run well. I’m a huge fan of this gelding and I hope his next career goes as swimmingly as this one did.
Possibilites for Lava Man include retraining as a hunter-jumper or becoming a pony on the track. I’d personally like to see him go to the Kentucky Horse Park so that all of his fans can enjoy him. I plan on making the trip ASAP if that is where he ends up.