Champion USA galloper Lava Man has been retired once and for all according to co-owner Steve Kenly. The veteran gelding finished last when he returned from a 16-month lay-off in the G2 San Gabriel Hcp at Santa Anita on December 27.
Lava Man (9g Slew City Slew – L’il Ms Leonard by Nostalgia’s Star) is still sound but he can’t compete at an elite level. “I’ve thought a lot since that last race,” Kenly said. “We were expecting more out of him. His ankles were better, but the thing that probably caught up with him was time. When the running really started, he couldn’t keep pace with the better horses.”
Lava Man rose from the claiming ranks to bankroll over $5.26 million in California. He enjoyed a banner season in 2006 when he captured the Santa Anita Hcp (G1), Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) and Pacific Classic (G1).
Lava Man is arguably the greatest claim in racing history and he also equalled Native Diver’s record of winning three consecutive Hollywood Gold Cups.
He was initially retired following a last-place finish in the 2008 Eddie Read Hcp (G1). He had surgery to remove chips from his ankles, and returned to training late in 2009 after responding to stem cell treatment.
Kenly said plans for Lava Man haven’t been determined, but they are considering several options, including keeping him at the races as a lead pony.