The readers of The Michigan-Bred Claimer have voted Meadow Vespers Michigan’s Thoroughbred of the Decade, from 2000-2010.
The nine-year-old Meadow Prayer gelding drew 33 of 83 total votes (39.76%) to hold off second place finisher Tenpins for the top spot. Full results from the poll can be found at the end of the post.
Meadow Vespers is campaigned by owner John Mack and trainer Richard Rettele. He was bred in Michigan by James Arnold, Marcia Arnold and Deb Miley.
One of his barn’s stars for over a half decade, Rettele listed Meadow Vespers among the best horses he has trained.
“He’s sound, tough and has longevity,” Rettele said. “He’s good to train and goes to race. That’s the kind you need.”
Meadow Vespers won 13 of 42 career starts for earnings of $489,066. Five of those victories came in stakes company, along with nine other stakes placings. He is Michigan’s ninth leading male by lifetime earnings.
Meadow Vespers’ racing career often mirrored his running style – A slow build-up to a big finish.
The gelding’s late kick often led to minor awards in early-season stakes races, but became dialed in as the season, and the race distances, grew longer. Prior to the 2009 season, Meadow Vespers’ only stakes wins came in the longest blacktype contests at the end of Michigan’s racing calendar, the Sire Stakes.
After one start as a two-year-old, Meadow Vespers’ run of Sire Stakes victories began in 2005, when he won the three-year-old males division of the race at Great Lakes Downs. That victory, along with on-the-board finishes in the Dowling and Spartan Stakes, helped secure his division’s title for the year.
Meadow Vespers stepped up into older competition the next year and won that division’s race twice before Great Lakes Downs was closed in 2007. However, year-end awards eluded him both times.
In 2008, Meadow Vespers showed he could translate his success on GLD’s five-furlong track to a mile oval with an award-winning inaugural campaign at Pinnacle Race Course. His fourth straight Sire Stakes triumph, and three other in-the-money stakes efforts, helped wrap up Michigan’s older male title.
Meadow Vespers had another solid year in 2009 and even notched his first non-Sire Stakes blacktype win; a rallying half-length score in the Michigan Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Pinnacle. However, his signature late move could not overcome traffic problems in the Sire Stakes, and his streak was snapped with a fifth place finish.
Despite showing some flashes in 2010, including a half length runner-up finish in the Frontier Handicap and a valiant effort against graded stakes-level competition in a Hoosier Park allowance, Meadow Vespers failed to find his timing last year and again finished off the board in the Sire Stakes.
Most horses spend their entire careers trying to hit in just one big spot, and most never get there. Meadow Vespers made hitting in the big spot an annual event. In an industry where many horses that show success are quickly retired, even geldings, there is something to be said for a horse that manages to compete at a consistent stakes level over a seven-year racing career.
Thanks to his longevity, lethal closing kick and status as Michigan’s alpha male for the latter half of the 2000s, Meadow Vespers is Michigan’s Thoroughbred of the Decade.
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Here are the full results for Michigan’s Thoroughbred of the Decade poll. Thanks to everyone who voted and commented on the poll, and to everyone who campaigned the horses that showed off the best Michigan has to offer.
To view the original post with information on each entry, click here.
TOTAL: 83 Votes
1. Meadow Vespers – 33 Votes (39.76%)
2. Tenpins - 23 Votes (27.71%)
3. Secret Romeo – 8 Votes (9.64%)
4. Cashier’s Dream – 5 Votes (6.02%)
5. Valley Loot – 4 Votes (4.82%)
6. Born To Dance – 3 Votes (3.61%)
T7. Rockem Sockem – 2 Votes (2.41%)
T7. Weatherstorm – 2 Votes (2.41%)
T9. Sefa’s Rose – 1 Vote (1.2%)
T9. That Gift – 1 Vote (1.2%)
T9. Other (Starlit Hour) – 1 Vote (1.2%)