Exceeding begins enjoying life on farm
By Steve Andersen
ARCADIA, Calif. - There are no grand announcements when old geldings such as Exceeding leave the racetrack, as the 9-year-old did earlier this month at Santa Anita.
Instead, the California-bred Exceeding was quietly shipped to a farm in central California, where he has started his retirement. His absence will be felt in trainer Bill Spawr's stable and by Chuck Allen, Tom Acker, Jon Lindo, and Bob Verratti, the group that owned him at the end of his career.
Spawr was Exceeding's sixth and final trainer, and Spawr had him for the final 14 starts of his 42-race career. Through that span, Exceeding ran primarily in claiming races, and won four times.
"He was wonderful to be around," Spawr said.
Bred by the List family's Double Bar S Ranch, Exceeding ended his career with 14 wins in 42 starts and earnings of $550,701. Along the way, there was success in stakes: he won the $100,000 California Sprint Championship over five furlongs on turf at Bay Meadows in 2005, the final victory in a four-race win streak.
There were notable performances in other major races for statebreds, such as a second in the Real Good Deal Stakes for Double Bar S and trainer Bob Baffert in 2003 and third-place finishes in two stakes in 2007 for the breeders and trainer Brian Koriner.
Best of all was the courage he showed, breeder Dawn List said.
"We always knew he was a good horse and had a lot of heart," said Dawn List. "It was the best part about him."
Exceeding did not start for 18 months, from November 2005 until May 2007 because of an injury, but returned to win seven more times in his career.
List said Exceeding got in shape by swimming.
"He was a swimming fool," List said. "It was no strain on joints. I'm very proud that we bred such a nice horse."
Exceeding's best season was 2008, when won 7 of 17 starts and $256,848, racing for trainers Jerry Hollendorfer, Steve Knapp, and Spawr, who claimed him for $50,000 at Del Mar in July 2008.
This year, Exceeding won a $20,000 claimer at Santa Anita in February, but spent most of the summer racing in $10,000 claimers. Spawr and the partners knew it was time to end his career this fall.
"He retired sound," Spawr said. "We didn't want to run him for $10,000. Even the jockeys said he started getting smarter. It was as if he was saying, 'If I run slow, I can get back quicker.' "
A few days ago, Exceeding was already adapting to life on a 1,500-acre farm in Santa Ynez, Calif. He is under the care of Kelly Schreiner and Roger Hunter.
"He's hanging around in a round pen, coming down from his racing days," Schreiner said. "He's been upset this week. They just moved some cattle from the upper pastures to the lower pastures and he doesn't like the cattle too much. He sees them, and thinks, What are they?"
Schreiner first saw Exceeding when he won the California Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows and thought of claiming him later in his career. She wound up with him after all, and hopes to start training him for a show jumping career in the spring.
"I'll start him out on a lunge line and see what he wants to do," she said. "If not, he'll have a home here."