Drafted after his victory in the Runhappy (G3) May 14, 2022, at Belmont Park (Janet Garaguso)
By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
ELMONT, N.Y.—The well-traveled career of multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Drafted has come to a close after eight seasons on the racetrack and visits to 10 race courses across three continents.
“We never thought we would get to the stage we did with him,” said trainer David Duggan. “All his runs were special. He was an exciting horse to watch.”
Owned by Dublin Fjord Stables, Racepoint Stables, Kevin Hilbert and Thomas O’Keefe, the 9-year-old son of Field Commission won a pair of Group 3 events during a four-season stint in Dubai before arriving in Duggan’s barn at the end of 2020. Since then, he has posted some of his most memorable victories, highlighted by Grade 3 wins under Jose Ortiz as an 8-year-old in Aqueduct Racetrack’s Toboggan and Belmont Park’s Runhappy. He retires with a record of 38-10-3-6 and total purse earnings of $1,171,593.
Duggan said he has particularly fond memories of Drafted’s win in the Toboggan when he captured the seven-furlong sprint by 4 1/2 lengths with a come-from-behind rally.
“I think the day Jose Ortiz rode him was the most exciting, even though he won by four or five lengths,” Duggan said. “We kind of caught everyone off guard with a change in tactics and how he engulfed them.”
Ortiz fondly recalled his graded triumphs aboard the fan favorite veteran.
“What can I say – it’s a little sad to see him go and I even rooted for him when he would go out of town and run other places,” said Ortiz. “The Toboggan was an amazing race – he sat back and came flying late. I love this horse. He’s got some character and is very classy. He’s a horse that you knew every time he stepped on the track, he’s going to give you all he’s got. Those are rare to find. I hope he goes on to have a nice retirement and second career.”
Ortiz praised the work done by Duggan and his wife, Lara, to keep the horse sound and happy through his 9-year-old campaign.
“David and Lara are amazing people and I know the horse is going to retire very healthy. They are amazing horsemen and work hard. I’m rooting for them to get another nice horse, and hopefully I’ll be on it,” Ortiz said, with a laugh.
Duggan said the decision was made to retire Drafted after he finished last-of-6 in the July 1 Alapocas Run at Delaware Park.
“I was mulling around the idea and I knew in my gut that if he didn’t show up at Delaware, it would be time to retire him,” said Duggan. “We could have waited and focused on the wintertime, but the right decision was made and it’s time to move on.”
Drafted has since returned to Duggan’s barn at Belmont Park where he has enjoyed some quiet days in anticipation of being rehomed through the New York Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association’s (NYTHA) TAKE THE LEAD program, a retirement program for thoroughbreds stabled at New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks that facilitates the search for rehabilitation and retraining placements for retiring NYRA racehorses.
“We don’t have a final confirmation for a rehab spot, but he’s in the program and we’ll get him where he needs to be,” said Rick Schosberg, president of TAKE THE LEAD. “He’s got some quirky things and he’ll need a good transitional rider, so I think it will be up to him what he wants to do. He’s the poster child of doing things the right way. He’s accomplished a lot and they all deserve a safe landing.”
Both Duggan and Schosberg are unsure exactly what second career lies ahead for Drafted, but expressed confidence that the spirited gelding can excel in a variety of roles.
“With his athleticism and talent, I think the book is wide open for him. He could jump – he’s sound and has a great hind end and shoulder. With his looks, he could be a dressage horse, but he could also probably rustle cattle,” said Schosberg, with a laugh. “It’s a really great thing.”
Drafted will remain in Duggan’s Belmont barn until a new home has been found for him where he will learn how to be ridden for a discipline beyond racing. He has undergone TAKE THE LEAD’s usual intake process, which includes diagnostics, a visual inspection when jogging and a comprehensive veterinary exam.
“He’ll be taught how to react to the bit a little differently and different leg signals,” said Schosberg. “He may do that absolutely perfect, but we just want to make sure the transition is smooth and seamless.”
The honest and hard-trying gelding provided Duggan with some of the biggest highlights of his career, capped by his graded triumphs last year in the Toboggan and Runhappy. He notched additional stakes coups last year in the Mr. Prospector at Monmouth Park and the Gravesend in December at Aqueduct, which proved to be his final trip to the winner’s circle.
Duggan, who started his first horse in 2005, expressed gratitude for the way Drafted’s stakes performances helped to put his operation back in the graded spotlight for the first time since he won the 2009 Grade 2 First Flight Handicap with Porte Bonheur.
“Not every horse is able to have a career at the top level – he dabbled there and was competitive at the second tier,” said Duggan. “It’s a competitive division and he didn’t dodge anyone in New York. He put us back on the map to some extent and it was special. What he’s done for us is huge, and these are the horses that make the game what it is. It’s good for all aspects of it.”
Through the TAKE THE LEAD program, horses like Drafted are sent to facilities accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) for rehab and retraining. NYRA and its horsemen are committed supporters of the TAA, which accredits, inspects, and awards grants to approved aftercare organizations using industry-wide funding.
Every owner competing at NYRA racetracks donates $10 per start to the TAA, helping to fund aftercare organizations that provide homes for retired racehorses. New York’s horsemen also donate 1.5 percent of the purchase price of every horse claimed at a NYRA track to TAA and to TAKE THE LEAD.
TAKE THE LEAD’s services are available to horses stabled at NYRA racetracks, with all costs associated with veterinary diagnostics, transportation, and other related expenses covered by the organization. Horses who have gone through the organization are also monitored with regular follow-ups on their progress in their second careers.
Schosberg said Drafted, along with every other horse who goes through the program, has been promised a caring and meaningful retirement thanks to thorough adoption guidelines.
“Adopters go through a meticulous screening process and the organizations make sure the horse fits the rider,” Schosberg said. “Whether they’re famous stakes horses or horses who didn’t break their maiden, we are here to make sure horses have a proper, safe second career.”
Duggan, who has seen his stock of horses grow exponentially in the past year, said the end of Drafted’s career is not bittersweet, but solely happy as he embarks on a new chapter in his already storied life.
“It is the end of an era, and it ends well,” Duggan said. “He’s competed well at the level he was in at his age. It’s a happy ending and it’s just good for everyone. It was a fun ride.”