The racehorses are the stars of the day on any given day at a racetrack. The unsung heroes of the racetrack, however, are the pony horses and outrider horses. These horses, many former racehorses themselves, have found second careers putting their experience and wisdom to use making each day at the track safer for everyone.
Adeli is one such horse. Foaled in 1995, the strapping bay son of Opening Verse took several starts to figure out the horse racing game as a juvenile. In his fourth outing, all of the pieces clicked together, and he carried the iconic red, white and blue silks of Allen Paulson into the winner’s circle after a sharp come-from-behind maiden victory.
From there, he developed into a quality allowance horse and was stakes-placed at Hialeah Park and Mountaineer. He concluded his career in 2000 on his own terms when he refused at the start. Horses speak as loudly as they need to get our attention and he was clear – it was time for a new job.
After some time on a farm, outrider Tony Haines got a call in 2003 about a big, good-looking horse he might be interested in. It wasn’t love at first sight – Adeli was a little fidgety getting tacked up and Tony wasn’t sure what he was in for.
“But, I swung a leg over and got on him and for the next fifteen minutes, he did everything I asked,” said Tony. “I agreed to take him, and we went to Tampa.”
Adeli was a quick student in his new job and after working both as a pony horse and outrider, the pair set off for Arlington Park. Still inexperienced, he began the 2004 season as Tony’s third-string outriding mount. By Arlington Million Day, one of the most prestigious events of the year, Adeli was the starter.
“You would sit on him and think you were superman,” said Tony, reminiscing about his old friend.
The job of an outrider is very important on the racetrack. The outrider is responsible for ensuring the safety of both human and equine athletes during training and live racing. They lead the post parade and in the event of a loose horse, they jump into action to apprehend the runaway. An outrider’s horse needs to be bold, fast and a true partner.
Adeli earned a reputation for being the go-to horse to pony a difficult horse to the gate and even escorted stars like Any Given Saturday to the gate in the Tampa Bay Derby. Any Given Saturday went on to win that day. Tony’s wife, Mandy, was aboard him that day and Adeli has become a member of the family over the years and has been doted on by Tony and Mandy’s daughter, Leah.
For the past few seasons, the pair have been at Finger Lakes in New York. Last summer, at 25, Adeli showed he can still keep up with the best of them – when a horse broke through the gate and was loose going long, Adeli turned on the gas and caught him with ease.
Time catches up to all of us and now, at 26, Adeli is ready to move on to the next stage of his life – a well-deserved retirement. We are excited to welcome him into the TRF herd.