Day At The Track

Storied career for 14-year-old Anderlecht

03:36 AM 05 Dec 2019 NZDT
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Anderlecht, harness racing
Anderlecht will be retiring from racing come January 1, 2020
New Image Media photo

He's raced against some of the best horses in harness racing history, including Hall of Fame legends Somebeachsomewhere and Foiled Again, and he is still going strong at the age of 14.

Anderlecht, a male pacer who got his first win at Woodbine in 2007, entered Wednesday with 18 victories this season, which is tied for third most in North America, only two fewer than leader Rusty's Flying. And the gelding is still capable of producing memorable moments, like in June when he gave driver Bruce Ranger the 9,000th victory of his career.

For his own career, Anderlecht has won 82 races (with 32 different drivers) in 367 starts and earned $978,027 (C$1.03 million). He captured the 2010 Des Smith Classic at Rideau Carleton and a year earlier won the Cam Fella Pacing Series championship at Woodbine. His career-best time of 1:48 came at the age of 9, when he beat triple-millionaire All Bets Off in a conditioned race at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Anderlecht will be pointed toward several more starts before mandatory retirement on Jan. 1, first at Scarborough Downs and then possibly at Monticello Raceway.

"The old horse just feels good about himself," said Dennis Whittemore, who bought Anderlecht in May 2018 to race for his wife Diane. "He likes what he does, he loves his job, and when you put him on the racetrack, he knows what he's doing. If you put him in a position where he's got a shot at winning, he's going to come out on top most of the time."

Whittemore, from Maine, was a fan of Anderlecht before buying him. He watched the horse race at Florida's Pompano Park, where Whittemore spent the winters, and thought the horse could be competitive in Maine.

"I watched him race in Pompano and when he was good, he was super good," Whittemore said. "Just knowing I like to go to Maine in the summertime, if you take good old back class home, usually you do pretty good with it. He's just a class horse."

First, though, Whittemore needed to help Anderlecht recover from a tendon sheath infection. Whittemore and his brother, Dana, who has trained the horse for most of his time in Maine, nursed the horse to health with eyes toward a healthy 2019.

"Slowly but surely, he came around," Whittemore said. "My brother did a very good job with him. He took great care of him. He came back this year as a monster."

Anderlecht has won 18 of 37 races this year and $37,878. He has raced at Scarborough and Bangor Raceway as well as the Maine fairs.

"He's just a pleasure to have around," Whittemore said. "He plays little games with you, but he does everything to please you."

Whittemore is working with a retirement group to find a forever home for Anderlecht following his career on the racetrack.

"He raced some good ones over the years," Whittemore said. "There are not a lot of horses that win over 80 races. Everyone that's had him has done well with him.

"He's had a pretty storied career."

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA


 

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