Top Sprinter Elite Squadron Retired
by Tom LaMarra
Date Posted: 8/25/2008 4:23:26 PM
Last Updated: 8/28/2008 2:28:20 PM

Elite Squadron won the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) on Derby Day 2008.
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Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Grade II winner Elite Squadron, who banked more than a half-million dollars in 14 races, has been retired because of an injury and is expected to stand at stud next year, owner Tom Walters said.

Elite Squadron, a close second to Street Boss in his last start, the July 5 Triple Bend Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park, was considered among the top sprinters in the country. Walters said the ultimate goal this year was the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park for Elite Squadron, who was trained by James Baker.

“He has a soft tissue problem,” Walters said Aug. 25. “He would need a few months off, and we were planning on running him in the (grade III) Phoenix Breeders’ Cup Stakes at Keeneland (in October). Because of the interest shown in the horse (for a stud career), I made the decision to retire him now.”

Elite Squadron, by Officerout of the High Brite mare Sweet Mama, was bred in Kentucky by Matt Herbener. The colt, now 4, was unplaced in two starts at 2, but won his 3-year-old debut in a maiden special weight event at Churchill Downs in June 2007.

Elite Squadron won the 2007 Tom Ridge Labor Day Stakes at six furlongs on the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs & Casino, and ended the season with an allowance victory at 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill.

This year, he finished third in grade II Richter Scale Sprint Handicap at Gulfstream Park, and finished a head behind victorious Rebellion in the Commonweath Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs on the Polytrack at Keeneland.

Elite Squadron then won the grade II Churchill Downs Stakes at seven furlongs, and finished third in the grade III Aristides Stakes at Churchill before his second in the Triple Bend.

Walters, an Indiana resident, said he had hoped to try Elite Squadron at one mile, and on the turf, but he opted to retire the colt. He said stud plans would be forthcoming.

Elite Squadron earned $507,059 with five wins, two seconds, and two thirds.



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