Despite the fact Electric Lad is an ornery 14-year-old, Indiana horseman Ryan Bellamy believes keeping him is simply the right thing to do.
by James Platz
In the bottom-line-driven business of horse racing, a conditioned hay burner not earning his or her way is often quickly dispatched. Horseman Ryan Bellamy, however, is focused less on what Electric Lad has done for the trainer lately, and more on the body of work produced by the 14-year-old. The veteran pacer is winding down his long career, and recently notched his 54th career trip to the winner’s circle at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, tripping the timer in 1:54.1.
“Well, he made me a lot of money for a lot of years. I don’t know the exact figures, but it seemed like $60,000 or $70,000 every year for probably four or five years it seemed like,” said Bellamy. “He bought a lot of horses for me, that’s kind of how I explain it. The money we made with him we bought other horses and made money with them. He’s been good to me. I owe a lot to him.”
The gelding, out of Precious Bunny mare Figmental, has managed to put together a resume that speaks to his durability. Since debuting as a 2-year-old at Indiana Downs, the pacer has managed to collect a victory in each of his 13 seasons of competition. The high water mark came in 2011 when the then 6-year-old claimed victory in 10 of 30 starts.
This season, Electric Lad has filed in behind the gate 13 times, and on Oct. 17, he broke through to earn his first seasonal score. Bellamy had hoped for better this year, but his veteran racer experienced setbacks that limited his racing schedule.
“It’s kind of been a bumpy year. He had a foot bothering him earlier in the summer and then he got sick on me,” the trainer said. “I thought he would race good that night, but I wasn’t sure if he could win or not. It was cool. It was very satisfying to see him get the W. I’m hoping to sneak one more in by the end of the year, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.”
Like many conditioned horses, Electric Lad has moved in and out of barns several times. He arrived for his first tour with Bellamy in April 2011. The conditioner had inquired about the pacer a few years earlier when under the tutelage of Walter Haynes Jr., and while his connections were not interested in selling, Bellamy observed an event in the paddock with Haynes’ wife, Sara, that prepared him for what was to come.
“Sara was hooking him up and he either kicked or tried to kick her and missed. I remembered that after I claimed him,” he recalled. “The first time hooking him up, he actually kicked my girlfriend. One of many times she’s been kicked by him. That’s just him. We know that, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable. Anybody that’s been around him has definitely taken their lumps.”
What Bellamy, and any other trainer that has worked with Electric Lad over the years, has learned is that the grizzled combatant has fire. He is temperamental and wants things his way.
“Oh, he’s nasty. Straight up, just one of the nastiest horses you could be around. He kicks, he bites. He’s very ornery,” said Bellamy. “He doesn’t like being messed with. Just leave him alone and you’re better off. He’s been that way since day one.”
For all the difficulties he displays in the barn, Bellamy likes the old campaigner. After making 10 starts over two different stints in 2011, he was claimed back by the trainer in June 2012. Over 15 races, Electric Lad added three wins and banked $37,695. The son of Electric Yankee made his way back to the Bellamy barn during parts of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 before the Anderson, IN resident claimed him for the last time in May 2017.
“I don’t know the exact figures, but most times when I lost him, I got him back at a discounted rate,” the owner and trainer said. “He’s still a useful racehorse. Later in his career, his value diminished, but I could always make money with him. I could always find the right spot to make money.”
Electric Lad now boasts 375 career starts. Bred by John R. Miller, the soon-to-be retiree has hit the board 151 times, good for an average just a tick over 40 per cent. He has earned $452,083, doing so the hard way. The pacer took his 1:51.2 mark at Hoosier Park in 2014 at age nine. Last year, he collected six wins and accumulated $21,315 in earnings. Most importantly, he was still a sound and healthy horse.
“He paid his way last year, but I knew going into this year it was going to be a struggle to make a decent profit with him. I felt like I owed it to him, and I felt like it was cool to race a 14-year-old,” Bellamy said. “He’s had a heck of a good career and he’s had longevity. I thought it would be cool to see a 14-year-old go out.”
Electric Lad is in to go tonight (Nov.) 5 in a 5/8-mile dash at Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway, and then the trainer plans to make one more start before Hoosier Park closes next weekend. After that, the brown gelding may have a start or two left before calling it a career. Bellamy is still figuring out the next chapter in his charge’s career.
“We’ll probably hang onto him and come up with a plan. His temperament limits the opportunities. Maybe he’ll mellow out a bit in retirement,” he said. “It would be nice to break him to ride, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen or not. We’ll keep him around. He’ll be close by.”