KEXINGTON, KY – At the ripe old age seven, Manitoulin, the thoroughbred horse, is officially retired after winning its owners over half a million USD in purse money over his years on the track.
“He cracked a bone in his pastern, so I brought him back to the farm where he was holed up in his stall for two months, and then put out to paddock,” said owner John Phillips of Darby Dan Farms in Lexington, Kentucky who has ties to the Manitoulin area with a family cottage on George Island, just outside Killarney.
Manitoulin had 25 starts in his five-year career, bringing in $526,393 USD in that time. 2017 was the gelding’s top year when he won $299,506 with four wins and one second in seven races, among them a Grade 2 stakes Hollywood Turf Cup win in Del Mar, California. At one point in his career, Manitoulin was ranked the third top thoroughbred horse in all North America.
“He’s quite capable of having another career,” Mr. Phillips said, noting that Manitoulin is now happily living on a farm for retired thoroughbreds in South Carolina where he will be retrained as a hunting and jumping horse.
Manitoulin will be trained in the art of fox chases (they don’t hunt them), “so it’s a good excuse to go galloping across the countryside,” Mr. Phillips said. “He’s happy and now 100 percent healthy.”
Mr. Phillips explained that Manitoulin was born “a character,” a trait he didn’t lose when gaining his gelding title. “He couldn’t be little Susie’s backyard horse, but he’ll be good at what he’s going to do. He’s very kind, but he’s full of himself,” he laughed.
“He was a world class race horse,” Mr. Phillips said in homage to his old friend.
This is the second thoroughbred horse named for the area. In 1974, the horse Little Current won two of the three races that make up the famed Triple Crown. Little Current belonged to John Galbreath, Mr. Phillips’ grandfather, who built the George Island family cottage.
Mr. Phillips told The Expositor that this would be the first summer since he was the age of five that he has not been to the Killarney-Manitoulin area. He’s now 68. “It’s crushing me, not being able to get there,” he admitted, but added that he was glad to see his beloved summer home in relative safety from the COVID-19 pandemic.