Photo of Eye Luv Lulu courtesy of Chelsea Durand / NYRA
By Mary Eddy
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The tenacious gelding Eye Luv Lulu, a regular on the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit from 2013-20, is readying for the next chapter of his career at Second Chance Thoroughbreds in Spencer, N.Y. thanks to his breeder Donald Newman’s son, Richard Newman, and the hard work of the non-profit retraining facility.
Eye Luv Lulu’s retirement came after a 61-start career that saw him win 11 races and $931,174 in total purse earnings. The now 12-year-old son of Pollard’s Vision scored in the 2018 Affirmed Success at Belmont Park and followed with a game third-place finish in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship.
After racing in allowance and stakes races for most of his career, Eye Luv Lulu ran in claiming races for his last three starts and was haltered by Newman for $12,500 out of a close third-place finish in his last race in December 2020 for the sole purpose of retiring the veteran competitor just shy of him turning 10.
Once retired, Eye Luv Lulu laid up at Newman’s farm until it was decided a new job would suit him and he was sent to Second Chance Thoroughbreds, a 10-acre 501(c)3 non-profit farm accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).
“The Newmans kept him for three years after he retired and had him turned out. The barn he was boarded at went up for sale, so they donated him here to start a second career,” said Collette Duddy, Director of Second Chance Thoroughbreds. “Since he’s been here, he’s been ridden a few times and he acts like he just came off the track. He’s out with a 29-year-old mare, so he’s learning herd hierarchy. He’s sound and has a great personality. He’ll find a home, but he needs an experienced rider.”
Eye Luv Lulu, who has been nicknamed “Charm,” is one of dozens of thoroughbreds who have gone through Second Chance Thoroughbreds’ program since being founded in 2012. While many of their retirees come directly off the track at Finger Lakes Racetrack in Farmington, New York, the organization accepts thoroughbreds of all backgrounds and ages.
Duddy said she was inspired to fill a need in her community when she saw that horses were searching for second homes and careers at the Central New York oval.
“This is our 11thyear and it started after I went to Finger Lakes Racetrack,” said Duddy, who added more than 15 horses have been adopted by Second Chance Thoroughbreds this year. “There were horses coming off the track that needed help, so it made me turn over from a lesson barn to a non-profit. We do groundwork with them and we get riders on them to tell you what they can do and what level of rider should adopt them.”
Duddy cited competitions like the Retired Racehorse Project as great examples to potential adopters of what off-track thoroughbreds can do.
“The Retired Racehorse Project has changed things and there’s a demand for thoroughbreds off the track,” said Duddy. “They’re so easily adaptable to any discipline, whether it’s jumping, foxhunting, western, freestyle – they’re incredible athletes and so easily trainable. It’s kind of a fallacy that they’re crazy and only want to run. They’re well-trained to begin with, and we just further their training when they come off the track.”
With several possibilities for a second career, Eye Luv Lulu is one retiree that needs some time to sort out exactly what will be best for him going forward. Duddy praised the gelding’s spirit and heart, and said he is ready to make someone a best friend and companion.
“He’s not a hunter type, but he’s more of a jumper or dressage type. He needs work just standing at the mounting block, and that’s what we’re working on now,” Duddy said, with a laugh. “He’s level-headed and forward, but he’s very smart and he learns. He’d like to have one person working and bonding with him.”
Duddy said it is thanks to organizations like the TAA and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. that organizations like hers can make a difference for thoroughbreds.
“There has been a lot more awareness for retirement over the past 10 years and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance gives great support, along with Thoroughbred Charities of America and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders,” said Duddy. “We wouldn’t be here without them.”
Collectively, NYRA, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and New York’s horsemen contribute more than $1 million annually to various aftercare programs and initiatives.
Through the efforts of accredited organizations like Second Chance Thoroughbreds, Eye Luv Lulu is one of many thoroughbreds who have a bright future to look forward to beyond the racetrack.
“He loves to be tacked up and to be brushed. He loves human attention as much as equine attention,” said Duddy. “He was a successful racehorse and retired in time, and he certainly has 15 or 20 more years in him and is full of life.”
Second Chance Thoroughbreds provides off-track thoroughbreds and pensioned broodmares a soft landing and rehab and retraining towards a second career while educating the public on the abilities of thoroughbreds. For more information about adopting Eye Luv Lulu or any other horses in their program, visit secondchancethoroughbreds.org.