Stonerside Stable's homebred Congaree has been retired from racing with $3,267,490 in earnings. The 6-year-old multiple grade I winner, trained throughout his career by Bob Baffert, will enter stud next year
"Congaree has provided all of us with great moments in racing," said Robert McNair, co-owner with his wife, Janice, of Stonerside Stable. "Janice and I will miss seeing that fluid speed of his that was so overpowering. After 25 starts, including 22 consecutive graded stakes races, he is still sound and a beautiful physical specimen, but he has informed us that he is ready to go to stud and we believe the decision should be and is his."
"Congaree has been everything one would want in a racehorse," continued McNair. "He's a big, beautiful, deceptively fast, extremely durable horse with a winning personality."
A winner of 12 of 25 starts, Congaree was a model of versatility and consistency. His five grade I victories ranged in distances from seven furlongs in the Carter Handicap (in 1:21.48) to 1 1/4 miles in the Hollywood Gold Cup (2:00.48). Congaree's record of 22 consecutive starts in graded stakes races is exceptionally notable.
"It's unheard of in this day and age," Baffert said.
Some of Congaree's placings were also notable. In just his fifth lifetime start, Congaree equaled the second-fastest mile in Kentucky Derby (gr. I) history, 1:35 flat, and managed to finish third in the 1 1/4-mile race. At five, Congaree dueled with Milwaukee Brew in the stretch in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and lost by a head in 1:59.80.
"Congaree's got all the main qualities it takes to be a good horse," continued Baffert. "Size, brilliant speed, and the mind to go with it. He's a beautiful mover. That's why he's stayed so sound; he has a very efficient stride."
The only horse in history to win back-to-back runnings of the Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I), Congaree did so both times by some five lengths, defeating champion Aldebaran in the time of 1:33.11 in the 2002 running.
By Blushing Groom's champion son Arazi, Congaree is out of grade I-placed Mari's Sheba, by Mari's Book. Mari's Sheba was purchased by Stonerside on Valentine's Day 1997 as part of Stonerside's acquisition of the entire Elmendorf broodmare band..
Congaree will ship May 7 to Stonerside near Paris, Kentucky. A decision as to where he will stand and his fee for next year will be announced later this year.