High Fly, a leading 3-year-old the first part of 2005, is back at Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud near Ocala, Fla., after two seasons at stud in Indiana. But instead of continuing his stallion career, the 2005 Florida Derby (gr. I) winner has been pensioned and gelded.
A Live Oak homebred who began his stallion career at Live Oak in 2006, High Fly covered just one mare in 2010 while standing at WinRich Thoroughbreds near North Vernon, Ind. A 9-year-old son of Atticus, High Fly is out of the Slewpy mare Verbasle.
High Fly is represented by 51 foals, 18 of which have started and a dozen of which have won. None of his runners has won or placed in a stakes.
Bruce Hill, Live Oak general manager, attributed High Fly's retirement to a shaky Thoroughbred market and a chance for the grandson of Nureyev to enjoy himself.
“For too many stallions, the bar is not raised high enough,” he said. “We see and read that all the time and most people in the industry know that. But there is enough of a market to keep horses at stud and then breed them, whether it’s for sentimental reasons or pie-in-the-sky reasons. And that makes no sense.
“We took the position of trying to be responsible in the industry and trying to make this horse happy. If we keep him at stud, it’s obvious by his numbers that he wouldn’t be well-supported. If we keep standing him, he would again be in a paddock, by himself, isolated, where he couldn’t be around other horses. That's not much of a life. We took a practical approach to it. Geldings are a whole lot happier than stallions. They’re herd animals, and they get to be turned out with other horses, and they get to have pals.”
High Fly is pals with Revved Up, a Live Oak homebred 13-year-old gelding who was a graded stakes winner.
“Mrs. Weber certainly understands the responsibility of taking care of retired horses,” Hill said. “We have quite a few here. It made sense to us to have High Fly enjoy the rest of his life content and peaceful, and not have to fuss and fight with everything that makes a move like a stallion does.
“Today, High Fly is a happy horse. He and Revved Up are in front of Mrs. Weber’s house, two great racehorses that are experiencing pleasure. There are horses around them, and they don’t care. They’re interested in what’s going on, but they’re not screaming and acting up. It’s a happy environment for them.”
During his race career, High Fly also won the 2005 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and the Aventura Stakes, setting a track-record in the one-mile event. He was one of the favorites in that year’s Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) but finished unplaced in both. He closed out his career with a runner-up effort in the Jerome Handicap (gr. II) in September.
High Fly, who was trained first by William White and then Nick Zito, exited racing with five wins from nine starts and earnings of $927,300.