Multiple Choice: A malcontent to Mr. TRF pageant winner
by Susan Salk, Off Track Thoroughbreds
Had he been human, he’d have been the hard working guy who avoids the water cooler, and wants only to be left alone at the end of the day.
Graded stakes winner Multiple Choice was just about as cut and dried as a horse can come, recalls longtime trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who says, “He was very professional with his training, but he never really wanted to be around people—he was even a little bit of a malcontent in the barn.”
But he was a hard-trying malcontent who took his work so seriously, says Jerkens, that for years after he was claimed away from him, he continued to race with screws in his legs.
“He was a trooper. He was always game,” Jerkens says. “I always got the impression that he gave his best for us every time,” Jerkens says. “Sometimes it wasn’t good enough, but a lot of times it was. His honesty is the thing I remember most about him.”
Before he retired at age 9 to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River, the compact bay gelding with the standoffish personality knocked in 74 races and earned nearly $630,000.
Jerkens trained Multiple Choice from ages 2 to 6 for owner Peter Blum, the gelding’s glory days. After breaking his maiden at Aqueduct as a 3-year-old he had a very exciting 4-year-old year in 2002, running 3rd in the Grade 2 Vanderbilt and the Grade 1 Forego, 4th in the Grade 1 Vosburgh and then capping off his 4-year-old year with wins in both the Grade 3 Jaipur and the Poker, switching to grass.
Versatile as an all-terrain vehicle, he performed well on both dirt and turf, doing his best at the 6- or 7-furlong race, Jerkens says.
Though not a top sprinter, he was so hard trying that years later, even after he sustained a spiral fracture to his leg (running for a different owner/trainer team) he went back to racing with a workmanlike grit. “After his injury he ran at a reduced level, but he ran a lot after that,” Jerkens says.
Through the years he kept tabs on the small bay. At one point he considered claiming back Multiple Choice, but when that didn’t work out, he was purchased outright by a horse lover and retired to the TRF’s James River facility.
Though he dug in and pulled himself toward the winner’s circle for so many years, the wear and tear on his body did not diminish him at all. Aside from a tricky knee that bothered him from time to time, Multiple Choice arrived looking so well that when he next visited the winner’s circle of a racetrack, it was only to claim first place in a Thoroughbred beauty contest!
In July 2013, the compact 15.3-hand gelding was named Mr. TRF in a beauty contest sponsored by the James River branch of the TRF, says Anne Tucker, longtime member and supporter of the charity.
Multiple Choice was paraded up the Colonial Downs track, in between races, and voted by fans to be the fairest of all, she says. “Multiple Choice won the popular vote,” Tucker says. “And he was crowned Mr. TRF, and one of our jockeys hung a wreath around his neck, and in a very touching moment, announced that it was being done to honor all the retired racehorses.”
Though he was always the type of horse to prefer the company of other horses over anything else, on the night he entered the winner’s circle to accept the Mr. TRF award, it was with docile good nature that he lowered his head and accepted the admiration of all, along with a few carrots donated by Whole Foods, as his due.
—Multiple Choice is one of 900+ Thoroughbreds under the care of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.