Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) winner Shakespeare, who won seven of eight career starts for Frank Justice's Dell Ridge Farm, has been retired from racing after suffering a flare-up of the old tendon injury that once kept him from racing for 21 months.
"To take a quote from (William) Shakespeare, 'True it is that we have seen better days,' " trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "We have seen better days (with him), but now they're over. He's sound, but since the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 16, his tendon has been getting a little worse, a little worse, a little worse. Talking to the vet, he said we would be taking a big risk to even work him. That's his career, and ultimately his life, on the line."
A 6-year-old son of Theatrical, Shakespeare broke his maiden at first asking for trainer Bill Mott and won four more races including the Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) and the Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park in 2005. He finished 12th of 13 in the 2005 John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) and was sidelined for more than a year with a tendon injury.
Returning to training this spring under McLaughlin's care, he made an impressive comeback in a tough allowance race at Saratoga, then aced the Woodbine Mile.
"He was a top, top horse," McLaughlin said. "He was a superstar. I hate to say that about a horse--I've only ever said it about Invasor. But I think if you'd put the starting gate up at six furlongs or a mile-and- a-half, I've never felt so confident that we'd get to the wire first. He was in that elite group, and we enjoyed having him for the six months we did; we're happy the owners let us train him."
Shakespeare was on course for a start in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).
"I really thought we were going on to the Breeders' Cup, but when that tendon flared up we decided to do what's best for the horse and pull the plug," the trainer said. "He's a really neat horse and it's nice to send him home sound. I think he has a chance to be a top stallion because he has so many wonderful components."
Shakespeare, also owned by William Schettine, amassed earnings of $1,293,780 from the time he began racing in Feburary 2004. He has arrived at Dell Ridge Farm near Lexington. No decision has been reached as to where he will enter stud.