ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — It was a day for the aged — and the odd — at the Breeders’ Cup.
After a record 19th victory Friday from 77-year-old trainer D. Wayne Lukas, 17-1 shot Calidoscopio became the oldest horse ever to win a Breeders’ Cup race at age 9, beating Grassy by 4 1/4 lengths to take the $500,000 Marathon, longest of the Breeders’ Cup races.
But an unusual age is only the beginning of the eccentricities of a horse whose name is Spanish for kaleidoscope and resembles a crazy uncle more than a kindly grandpa.
Calidoscopio was unmistakable in the two weeks he trained at Santa Anita after shipping in from Argentina.
He was galloped bareback in his daily workouts, and wore a white “bonnet” of sorts wrapped around his head.
The lack of saddle is an old tradition in Argentina and the horse is “too old to change his routine,” according to trainer Guillermo Frankel.
And the bonnet? To prevent “head colds,” said Frankel, a 54-year-old former veterinarian from Buenos Aires.
The quirks extend to race day too. Calidoscopio wears a blindfold that covers his whole face all the way down to his chest to help ease him into the starting gate.
And after Friday’s big victory his connections, including a group of seven owners led by Juan Carlos Echeverz, celebrated with soccer-style singing, chanting and flag-waving, bringing a shock to the usually staid winner’s circle at Santa Anita.
John Fulton, a South American representative of the Breeders’ Cup who served as translator in the post-race news conference, said Frankel is known in his home country for using his veterinary skills to bring horses along slowly.
“If he needs time, he gives it, and he has allowed this horse to stay strong and mature and get better.”
Asked if Calidoscopio would race at 10, Fulton said “I guess we should ask the horse. At least five more years!”