The racing world was just blessed again, this year, as California's own rags to riches horse has returned to training. Lava Man has returned, working three furlongs in 36 seconds flat. Before his retirement, Lava Man had won three consecutive Hollywood Gold Cups, becoming only the second horse ever to do so. He also is the only horse to complete the California triple of the Santa Anita Handicap, the Pacific Classic, and the Hollywood Gold Cup, in the same year. Lastly he is the only horse to win a grade one over all three surfaces, being synthetics, dirt, and turf.
Claimed for a $50,000, which, in racing where yearlings sell for millions, is not an overly large payout. Lava Man,though, by his retirement, in 2008 had earned more that 100x that amount, with earning amassing to over 5 million dollars. 2006 would have had to be his best year on the track. That year is the year he won his second consecutive Hollywood Gold Cup and became the only horse to win the the Santa Anita, Pacific Classic, and Gold Cup. In 07 Lava Man would equal Native Divers record number of consecutive Gold Cups, when winning his third, by a heart stopping half a head over the stubborn AP Xcellent.
The only thing, it seems, that Lava Man never accomplished was winning a Grade one race outside of his home base, California. His only loss in 2006 was at Churchill Downs, in the Breeders Cup Classic, the only time he ran outside of California, that year. While in his home state he was seven for seven. Because of this, many seem to overlook all the great things Lava Man has done. He is the greatest claim ever to be made in America, and is the only horse to have done several things. Other than Native Diver, Lava Man is the only horse to win three back to back Gold Cups.
As the months wore on though, the races seemed to be taking a toll on the gelding who race a total of 46 races over a six year span. That is an average of 7.6 races a year. Just to give all of you an idea of how much that is, many horses run in fifteen or less starts in two years. Two time horse of the year Curlin only had 16 starts for two years. Lava Man ran the same amount they did, but did it for three times longer. That is why in July of 2008 he was retired from racing.
Now a little over a year later Lava Man is back for more. If I'm right in thinking all Lava Man needed was a little of R&R to get back into form, the god help any horse in Cali that stands in his way, because when he's good Lava Man is a monster. Just look at his form in 2006. Lava Man America is happy to have you back, and is we welcome you with open arms.