Lava Man’s co-owner: Why not bring him back?

Steve Kenly, one of the three gentlemen who claimed Lava Man for $50,000 at Del Mar in August 2004 and saw him evolve into a seven-time Grade 1 winner, the only horse to win Grade 1 races on turf, dirt and synthetics and one of the most popular horses in California racing history, has no second thoughts about putting the 8-year-old gelding back into training for a possible comeback.

Lava Man drilled three furlongs in 36 seconds over Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track on Wednesday morning and is said to be a different horse since undergoing months of stem-cell therapy on bad ankles at Dr. Doug Herthel’s Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Hospital in Los Olivos, Calif.

“It got to the point where it’s like, he’s doing so darn well, how can you not think about bringing him back?” Kenly said from his Arizona home on Thursday afternoon. “This is a horse who when he trains, you don’t have to lead him to the race track, he wants to take you there. He wants to be on that race track and you can’t even pull the horse up.

“He may not get (back to the races), but right now it’s looking pretty good. I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves or get too excited in case he doesn’t make it back, but right now he’s telling you everything you want to see from a horse. Forget the number (age) in front of his name, he’s going really strong. But this game is tough, and any day anything can happen to any horse.”

If Lava Man is a far happier animal by running and a veterinarian who knows far more about this stuff than I do says it’s the right thing, I don’t see any problem with trying to determine if he wants to race again.

Kenly compares the possible comeback to the ones made by NFL quarterback Brett Favre, who has frustrated some with his on-again, off-again retirements.

“The funny part about this is that people also rip on (Favre),” he said. “But I’ll tell you one thing, in my opinion, whether you like Brett Favre or don’t like him, it’s sure a heck of a lot more exciting to read the paper or watch SportsCenter when he’s playing than when he’s not.

“And I’d say the same thing about Lava Man — it’s better to have him participating in the game than sitting retired on the farm if he can do it. You don’t want to get ahead of yourself because, well, he’s 8 years old, right? We’re a long ways off. He passed a pretty good test (Wednesday), but he’s still got a lot more tests to go.”

It would be one thing if they were thinking of bringing Lava Man back as a high-stakes claimer or high-level allowance horse, but both Kenly and trainer Doug O’Neill say that if he comes back, it will be to race in stakes races and nothing more.

Horse racing needs its equine heroes, and Lava Man was certainly that while winning a record-tying three consecutive Hollywood Park Gold Cups and back-to-back Santa Anita Handicaps.

What do you think? Vote in our poll and then leave a comment telling us why you agree or disagree with the decision to put Lava Man back into training.


7 thoughts on “Lava Man’s co-owner: Why not bring him back?

  1. The horse is trained and bred to race and of course it is all he knows but that doesn’t mean that it is the best decision for him. STD Stables suck and maybe someone needs to make a web site saying so. Lava Man deserves to be retired. Racing him is a HUGE risk and no one has anything to lose but Lava Man. He can lose his life. We can’t say that for anyone else involved. They have nothing to lose!!

  2. Mary … if you’re that vehemently opposed to Lava Man possibly coming back that you say the connections “suck,” maybe you should make that aforementioned Web site? You make a good argument for why they should not bring him back and I certainly respect your opinion, but they “suck” because they think differently about this than you do?

  3. I have no problem with horses running until eleven or twelve if they are sound and never had serious issues, IMO, This is all about EGO and GREED, with this owner, Mr. Kenly. They are using Lava Man as a guinea pig, If he is succesful for a few races, then he will reap the benefits involved with the succesful Stem Cell work done to LM. This horse will NOT be the same, by the time he hits the track, It will be a year and a half since his last race. I just do not see any upside for him returning, Everything he has earned is ALL profit since they claimed him for 50K. He will not win a graded stakes at nine, even if he does, It is a mute point, they already stated he will not race in claimers or lesser races. So what is the point? I will return to EGO and GREED…One could argue a two or three year old is in just as much danger, hence a misstep or an accident, But my argument is, Why risk that chance? They are saying all the politically correct things, IE., He loves to run, He wasn’t happy off the track, Etc…SO WHAT!, He will have to retire someday and learn to adapt, Find him something to keep him busy. If he is as fit as he was at three, then GREAT, He can enjoy his life off the track perfectly HEALTHY, He deserves it….

    Also, How they treated Mr. Blowen was pure disrespect, Just ten days ago this owner told him he would be at Old Friends in October, This after stroking him along since April. This guy was just using Mr. Blowen as a pawn, Buying time all along to see if Lava Man took to the Stem Cell Therapy. Why not be up front? Mr. Blowen was never told of a chance of Lava Man returning to the track. Mr. O’Neil is the only saving grace in this equation, I hope he stands by his word and does right by Lava man, Not like that weasel of an Owner, Mr.Kenly…

  4. I agree with Mary and think Lava Man should remain retired but to come out and say that the connections “suck” and that a website needs to be built to say so smells totally of “PETA” or some do-gooder animal rights group. No body loves animals especially horses more than I do but sometimes you have to let the connections of these animals make the decisions and live by them as well.

  5. LOL

    Dont bring him back so he doesnt finish LAST pathetic.

    nice job run an unfit horse on an experimental medicine and he finishes last you should be ashamed no excuses needed you dropped the ball and forgot what basic horsemanship consists of and last time i checked it didn’t involve needles…

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