Life At Ten, the star-crossed multiple grade I winner whose career will likely be best remembered for a race she did not win, has been retired following a last-place finish in the $350,000 Beldame Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Oct. 1.
“We just feel like it’s time,” David Vance, racing manager for owner Candy DeBartolo, said Oct. 3, adding that the 6-year-old mare will be sold at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. “She’s had a remarkable career. She’s still a multiple grade I winning millionaire and that term doesn’t apply to many horses. She’s probably the prettiest horse I have seen since Secretariat, but I’m not very objective.”
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Life At Ten won eight races—six in stakes--from 22 starts and earned $1,277,515. In 2010, the daughter of Malibu Moon won the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III), Ogden Phipps (gr. I), Delaware Handicap (gr. II), and Beldame (gr. I) leading up to the Ladies’ Classic. She was winless in five starts this year, with third-place efforts in the Delaware Handicap and Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (gr. III).
DeBartolo said plans were for Life At Ten to run in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 4 had she turned in a good performance in this year’s Beldame. She finished fifith, beaten 20 3/4 lengths by Havre de Grace in the Oct. 1 race, however.
“We had decided that if she runs well and is in contention at the end (of the Beldame), we can talk about the Breeders’ Cup, but if she runs up the track, let’s be reasonable,” Vance said. “It’s a very puzzling situation because she fired a bullet (best time at the distance) in three of her last four works and worked better than anything in his (trainer Pletcher’s) barn. But at race time, she showed that she’s a 6-year-old mare and maybe it’s time to have babies.”
It was a last-place finish in the 2010 Ladies’ Classic that will likely define Life At Ten’s career. During the race at Churchill Downs, Life At Ten finished last as the second choice at odds of 7-2. With jockey John Velazquez aboard, Life At Ten had no run when the field left the gate, and she was not persevered with throughout the 1 1/8-mile race.
Before the race, Velazquez told retired jockey Jerry Bailey, who was assisting with the ESPN coverage of the Breeders’ Cup, that the filly did not feel right, but did not relay those concerns to the stewards or to any Kentucky Horse Racing Commission veterinarians. The day after the Ladies’ Classic, Pletcher said it appeared that Life At Ten had an allergic reaction to Salix, a medication she was treated with prior to the race.
Life At Ten’s poor performance prompted an investigation by the KHRC, which leveled charges against rider John Velazquez and Kentucky chief steward John Veitch. Velazquez settled his case with a $10,000 fine without admitting wrongdoing. Veitch has contested the charges against him.
“It really is unfortunate, because she is special and deserves recognition,” Vance said of the 2010 Ladies’ Classic and subsequent events. “She had all the potential to go down in history as a special horse, and she is.”
Bred in Kentucky by Nickelback Farm, Life At Ten is out of the Rahy mare Rahrahsixboombah. Life At Ten was purchased for $35,000 as a yearling by Big Time Thoroughbreds at the 2006 Keeneland September sale from Legacy Bloodstock, agent.