Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Laurel Park to Recognize Eighttofasttocatch

Track to hold ceremony after fourth race Saturday in honor of retiring 8-year-old.

Laurel Park will recognize the popular locally based gelding Eighttofasttocatch upon his retirement with a ceremony after the fourth race Saturday, Dec. 13.

The 8-year-old completed his career in storybook fashion Dec. 6 by capturing the Jennings Handicap for the fourth consecutive year.

Owned by Sylvia Heft and her late husband, Arnold, and trained by Tim Keefe, the son of Not For Love won 17 of 49 races. He became the 24th Maryland-bred to reach millionaire status in the final race of his career.

"To say it was storybook was an understatement," Keefe said. "I didn't think there was going to be as much pressure but there was a huge amount of people, from my family to Arnie's family. To have him run so well was thrilling. Disney couldn't have written it any better."

With his three Maryland Million Classic victories (2011, 2013, and 2014), the horse nicknamed "Catcher" joined Safely Kept, Countus In, Mz. Zill Bear, Docent, and Ben's Cat as the only runners to win three times on "Maryland's Day at The Races." He won 11 of his 12 career stakes at Laurel Park and retires ranked 19th on the all-time list of Maryland-breds with earnings of $1,072,970.

"He did things kind of quietly over a seven-year period," Keefe said. "He didn't become a stakes winner until he was 5. He taught me to be patient. It is worthwhile and has made sense to our time with him. Every horse is different and he made me realize that. He created his own path."

Keefe and his family as well as members of the Heft family and Eighttofasttocatch's best friendGigi, the barn goatwill be on-hand to say goodbye. Eighttofasttocatch is headed to Keefe's Montgomery County farm next week to start a new career as a three-day eventer.

"It will be good for Gigi to be there with him, but she is a little nutty," joked Keefe. "She loves to travel with him. When I took him to Keeneland in 2011 for the Fayette (gr. II), we went down five days early to train. When he would go out and gallop on the track in the morning, she would be at the barn screaming.

"There would be people two or three barns away coming over to see what was going on. It was just Gigi yelling for Catcher."

The ceremony will take place at approximately 2:10 EST. The event features a blanket presentation, video tribute, and interview with Keefe in the winners' circle.