Updated: Admirals Express Euthanized

Published: October 20, 2010 01:57 pm EDT

Orillia, Ontario resident Mike Hales, who trained the great Admirals Express during his outstanding racing career, confirmed with Trot Insider on Wednesday, October 20 that the 14-year-old Admirals Galley gelding was

euthanized Tuesday, October 19.

Hales said that he didn't receive any specific details last night, but was told that Admirals Express suffered a leg injury last night at the farm he was staying at and had to be euthanized.

From 353 career starts, Admiral Express compiled a record of 86 wins, 53 second-place finishes and 44 thirds. He earned a pair of O'Brien Awards in 2005 when he was named Canada's Older Pacing Horse of the Year and Horse of the Year.

Dubbed 'The Grey Gladiator' by former Woodbine Entertainment Group Track Announcer Frank Salive, Michigan-bred Admirals Express battled to $2,176,860 in career earnings and lowered his mark to 1:48.2 over Woodbine Racetrack at the age of nine.

Admirals Express, who was driven by Paul MacDonell, was owned by Gary and Laurel Gust of Cedar Springs, Michigan, and Cheryl and Edward D Sayfie of Rockford, Michigan.

Trot Insider spoke with Admiral's Express' caretaker, Wellington 'Welly' Charles, who shed a little more light on the situation which occurred at the Coboconk, Ont. farm.

"Last night where I keep 'The Admiral,' he was out in the field with the other horses, and when he didn't come in Rob Doyle went out and see where he was," Charles said.

Charles explained that Doyle was able to get Admirals Express to come in, but there was a problem.

"He (Doyle) helped him in, and at the time Admiral had a little limp. Rob called the vet right away and nothing was helping."

Charles explained that Doyle was able to get in contact with him, but that he wasn't able to get there in time to be of any help. The vet had treated Admirals Express, but the gelding's situation had continued to worsen. Admirals Express had suffered a broken bone underneath the hock on his right, rear leg.

Charles told Trot Insider that even after being treated by the vet, Admirals Express started to get the sweats and was beginning to suffer from convulsions. In the best interest of Admirals Express, he was humanely euthanized at the farm by the vet.

"I want to thank Rob for being there with him and making the right decision, because I wouldn't want Admiral to be in pain.

"My heart is broken. My best friend and 'son' is gone. It is going to be a rough road, but I'm always going to preach on the horse he was."

Charles told Trot Insider that anyone wishing to make a donation in Admirals Express' honour can do so with the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society.

"I used him as a poster child to help save horses," Charles told Trot Insider. "We had him at the horse shows. He absolutely loved getting out and seeing the people. He was an unbelievable horse, and I'm really going to miss him."

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the connections of Admirals Express.

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"RIP" Mr Grey Gladiator..you will be welcomed to Horse Heaven with open arms and your memory will forever linger to those you loved you so much here...

i love you mighty grey i miss you mighty grey and i will make it my personal duty along with my good friend and your dad welly to make sure no one ever forgets who the great admirals express was.

It's nice to see this much compassion for a race horse and to see that he has all of these followers shows that if we kept our stars around it could give reason to have fans of this sport that could turn into a future.

sad day for standardbreds from east to west , the grey admiral will live forever in the hearts of all standardbreds betters ,owners,drivers,trainers ,and grooms ... he will not be forgotten... I also agree there must be an open series honoured in the great Grey Gladiator's name.


This was something I wrote in highschool in regards to my experience of losing a majestic friend to colic. (In regards to my earlier post) I tried to copy and paste the important things and my computer went all wacky. Therefore, I will post what I meant to put. My apologies for the inconvience and misinterpretation. IN HONOUR OF THE GREY AND

The written word attempts to convey thought and emotion; it usually fails. How can we translate the depth of the feelings we experience, particularly with one of God's creation that does not speak the language we use to communicate with one another? When speaking with horses, Welly and family did not use english words. They have come to understand what the sounds they make mean, in terms of the actions they intend my words to effect. In turn, Welly understood their body language and signals, the differing tones of their vocalizing, the interpretation of their glances. The two types of communication are very different.

The first, speaking with horses, is a matter of spiritual connection with another created entity. The second, talking to horses, is matter of physical plane interaction with another species. POWPOW was comfortable with and adept at communicating either way.

The inclusion of this fact is not morbid; instead, it is an indication of the of the strength of his character and a celebration of the greatness of his spirit. Free from pain, having said his goodbyes to his friends and his humans. ADMIRAL lay at rest as beautiful in death as he was in life.

He nobly stood for his last moments with his humans. He knew he was leaving, but he intended to leave with dignity. His great strength and spirit did not fail him, even at the end.

All living matter eventually returns to earth's heart in welcome continuance of life. ADMIRALS EXPRESS may you dance with the wind; may your majestic call find loving response from our other friends resting. All shall think of your loud whinny, your amazing accomplishments, shinning grey body and deep, loving eyes as you rear and paw at the sky of infinity.

My condolences to all who loved the Admiral.


To clarify this further. I was not there. I copyed and pasted a paper I wrote many years ago on my own horse passing away of colic. When I copied and pasted it and began to delete some content to put emphasis on how his character should be celebrated. My computer froze for a
second and went back to my icon browser. I wasn't aware until someone asked me to clarify my post.

I apologize for this misinterpretation, I can assure it was not intentional...I am quite embarrassed that my attempt to show in words how Welly and all who had the chance to befriend a legend who effected many in such a positive way. Therefore. Again my apologies for any misinterpretations and to anyone I may have offended.

Honest to goodness.

WEG needs to create a series for Open pacers called "The Grey Gladiator memorial series" or something to that effect. This great warrior also deserves a monument at Woodbine or Mohawk in his honor. They should also put the Admiral on the cover page of the PP program, at least for a year. This may sound like a lot, but this great champion truly was "The people's horse" and deserves the proper respect that he earned week in, week out.
RIP Admiral. There are a lot of broken hearts at your passing, but you will always be in our hearts and never forgotten.

Living in the US, I never had the honor to see Admirals Express run in person But I spent most Saturday nights watching him from a turf club dig in and show the heart and grit that made him a true cult hero. It had been a lot of years since I had seen a horse that I became so attached to and looked forward to see him run. The last one I felt that way about was Niatross. On the weeks when he wouldn't run it was like something was missing.

He will always have a special place in my heart and memories...


I had the pleasure of seeing him race his last year and also had the chance to pet him and look at him close up in the paddocks at Mohawk.. without a doubt the most beautiful horse I have ever seen, his death brought tears to my eyes but we will always have the image of him streaking like a silver train down the stretch..

Condolences to Admiral's connections and fans like us are equally grieving over his death. The idea of naming the Open Pace to the "Admirals Express Open Pace" in his honour is an excellent one so that he will never be forgotten.

The Harness Racing Industry has lost a true hero. RIP Admirals Express. I will never forget all the Saturday Nights I spent cheering for "The Grey Gladiator" !
Amy McDonald

I 3rd that (Ivan's comment).
A beautiful idea for the people's champion.
Something this simple should be easy. You would think.
Please push this everyone.
I took my mother to Mohawk just so she could see the Admiral.
The Admiral did not dissapoint.
My mother fell in love with the old boy.

Words can not express the pain I feel in my heart at the Loss of The Admiral. I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to have met this beautiful and amazing horse. He was a fighter on the race track, a pleasure to watch race and a absolute gentleman to handle in the Test Barn.

My condolences to everyone involved with The Grey Gladiator.

You will be sadly missed but never forgotten Big Boy.

I would like to express how sad I am in the passing of Admirals Express. How many times did I stop everything just to watch him run every Saturday night and how the 'emotional' Frank Salive would react when the Admiral would win the race. I think that Woodbine/Mohawk racetracks should name the now "Open Pace" to the "Admirals Express Open Pace" in his honour. What do you think?

In reply to by Ivan Lussier

Ivan, I certainly agree with you -- what a wonderful way to honour the Grey Gladiator!!!! Let's hope the folks at Woodbine Entertainment reads this blog

I still can't believe he's gone, the tears well up in my eyes when I think about him & Welly.
RIP Admiral, I will miss you

Marie Stoyles-Moura

We were honoured to meet Admiral and Welly in person at the Standardbred Show in Arva this year after so many years of admiring the Great Grey from afar. Everyone was excited to hear he had arrrived on the grounds - ourselves included. We saw how much he was helping bring to life the whole life after racing concept. He gave it his all everytime he went into the ring with as much gusto as he did on the track.

He should still be the "Poster Child" for this great 'movement"

Our condolences go out to all his connections and especially to Welly for this enormous loss.

Helen & Jackie Imeson

Words just cannot express on how I am feeling right now. This horse helped bring me out of my deep depression when he raced every week and tried so hard. His determination and stunning colour just opened my eyes for me.

He died way too young, had so many years left. RIP dear Admiral

will always remember "the horse of a different colour" RIP

Move over Seabiscuit and Secretariat - make a spot for the Grey Gladiator!

I am sorry for the Grey Gladiator and all his connections. It's sad to see a horse, any horse, suffer a catastrophic injury and not be able to live to an old age properly.

He was an awesome performer and I was glad to see him race a number of times. Admiral will be missed by all I am sure.

RIP Admirals Express.

Janelle Scherbik

The toughest horse I have ever seen race. You will be missed ADMIRAL, may you RIP.

As either an owner, trainer, driver or breeder almost everyone on this site has experienced the feeling of winning a race...especially a race that your horse wasn't necessarily supposed to win. It's what has addicted many of us to this great game. For some reason 'The Admiral' gave the majority of us that type of feeling - all at the same time - everytime he won. Not exactly sure why that was...but it's true. In some way he'd unite us all everytime he raced.

Thanks for that 'Grey Gladiator' ! See you in another life :)

Still stunned,
While this was not the greatest standardbred ever.He was the standardbred with the greatest heart ever.

John King : I am heartbroken to hear that my favourite horse of all time has passed away. God Bless The Grey Gladiator he was a great horse. Rest in peace Admiral.

This is utterly one of the most well known horses in the business, he showed everyone what a great competitor he was and that his heart was as huge as his stature. No matter what kind of trip he got, he had more in him. This horse has touched so many people, and everyone can recall a race they have watched when they were shocked and amazed by him. He loved his work, and he loved his retirement as well. I will always remember him as one big rammy son of a gun, who raced not because he had to, but because he wanted to...
You will always be remembered and celebrated admiral!

I am devastated by the loss of one of the greatest racers I know. No man woman or horse can last forever I'm just sad to know that his time has come to an end. I admire the gentlemen who took charge and made his last moments as good as possible for him my heart goes out to you.

Our condolences to all who spent there time with the Admiral.

Good Night Son, I will always have U in my Heart..
time with us was way to short, u were my best friend. I hope that we will see each other in the future, I coulda had the worst day and as soon as i got out of the truck and we saw each other the weight on my chest left. We were out there trying to make a diference in every standardbred we can help. U lit up faces when people would come and see u, my love for u will never leave. The way u would shake when i went in the room for carrots, the way u came to the fence when u knew it was Welly-Admiral time, U dragged me almost everywhere we went, we raced together, and hung out together. I feel so empty right now, i cant stop shedding tears for U. But I will continue what we started, and promote standardbreds for life adfter racing. but nuthin will ever compare to riding U. So now lay down my friend, ur in no more pain.
I will always love you
and u will be forever in my heart.
I LOVE YOU---The Grey Gladiater, the Michigan Invader, The Mighty Grey

Welly Charles..

In reply to by admiralsexpress432

welly charles,
My heart pours out to you.I have been going to the races for 33 years and even if I lost a bet on the races because of him being in the top 3,which he usually was,I never was disappointed as he was a warrior and loved what he did.God bless you Grey Gladiator,Admirals Express,RIP

In reply to by admiralsexpress432

Welly, such a shame you lost your friend too soon. reading what you have written about him brought tears to my ears. he was truly loved!

So sorry to hear this. Even though I'm in Ohio and race in NJ, This guy was one of my all time favorites. Shame that he couldn't be saved.

Very sad day for me

heartbreaking, such a shame! i will miss seeing him at the standardbred horse shows and my condolences go out to the owners. he was an unbelievable animal! such a sad day for all who knew the 'Grey Gladiator'!! he will be missed.

Good-bye my old friend. You will always have a special place in my heart. No finer horse ever ran the course. You will be missed but I will never forget you.

my heart goes out to you Wellington, I almost lost my guy friday and I was in tears, you must feel horrible. Just remember he had a great life, was an amzing racehorse and had an amazing person to look after him after his racing career.......I will say it again.... LOOK OUT SEABISCUIT, YOU GOT A CONTENDER NOW!!!

RIP Admiral your memory will live on forever ..you touch so many hearts from the old ladies in the grandstand to all the trainers and drivers who wanted one just like you to the crusty old bettors who always had a duece on the old man just to watch it ride, the young kids who loved his colour, all the people who came to just to see what he was like under saddle... I was so proud to have him at Standardrama..Harness Racing lost a great. I'm sad for my friend Welly who cared for this horse so much and even if he didn't make a dime would of loved him just the same. Sorry for all connections to the horse.
Ed Sayfie and I got to meet by weird circumstances the last week and had a great chat about Admiral and how Great he was as a racehorse and a show horse.

Thinking of you Welly
Tammi Paul and Janice

This is very sad news. I was just talking about Admiral the other day. Magnificent horse with a huge heart. The Gladiator will be truly missed. My condolences go out to his connections and to everyone who cheered him on week after week.

RIP Admiral.

If there is a race track up there you just know that he will be the first one behind the gate. Just a great and marvelous athlete, stuff that legends are made out of.

This is a sad day indeed. The Admiral gave us thrills on the racetrack time after time. We were all so glad when, in retirement, he got to live with his caretaker and best friend. We will all remember the 'Great' Grey Gladiator for a long time to come. May he rest in peace. I would like to send him a very big 'thank you' for the wonderful memories. My condolences to all who knew him and loved him.

It's hard to get my head around this...the Admiral was such a great "horse hero"--strong and elegant. There aren't too many of these solid workmen around tracks these days. He gave his best to everyone and I know everyone who knew and loved him are now filled with sadness. I am glad he didn't suffer. I hear a lot of people saying he shouldn't have come back from retirement but from talking with Mike and a few others I am satisfied it was in the Admiral's best interest at the time. He loved to race and he was a champion all the way. I always enjoyed bringing him carrots for him to nibble on after his race. My condolences to all the connections of the Admiral. He will always be my hero and an inspiration.

I was with him in his final moments. I couldn't believe what was happening, he was so tough right until the end, and then he put his head in my chest as if to say its ok. I can't hardly explain how I felt last night. He was a fierce competitor and he was healthy and enjoying life right until this tragic accident.

May you rest in peace my grey gladiator friend, with love always your good friend Rob Doyle

In reply to by he was a legend

Will never bve forgotten.You are a special man and am glad he had his last moments with you,no matter how sad they must have been.The Admiral,(Grey Gladiator), will always live on for sure.God bless.

He's a horse that most in our generation who had the pleasure of wathing him race will talk about for years. The Grey Gladiator was a well earned nickname as he raced tough week in week out for what seemed like years. RIP Admiral you'll never be forgotten!

The Admiral will be remembered as one of the great ones. While his passing is sad, let's all close our eyes and remember the special moments! And if that doesn't work, ain't it great there are dvds and youtube videos and the like so we can revisit those great races for years to come.

I had the pleasure of training Admiral and believe me it was an absolute honour!! I had and always will have a world of respect for him. It is a sad day indeed. RIP and thanks for the memories...

Very sad to hear of his passing - he was by far my favourite horse of all time. He just grinded it out week after week. At least he was able to enjoy some sort of a retirement. He certainly earned it and deserved it. Rest in peace Admiral, I'll miss you Grey Gladiator.

I cried at the horse show when I saw him this year. I am crying right now. Crying is good when there is something as magnificent as The Admiral !! R.I.P. one of Gods Awesome creations !!

He will be missed by many, I can remember when I went to Elmira to watch the races for the first time 10 or so years ago - he was on a simulcast card that night. Have always kept an eye out for him ever since. R.I.P

RIP big guy!!! So sorry to hear about your passing but I am very thankful that someone loved you enough to ensure you didn't suffer. You'll always be in my thoughts. So very happy that I got to met you up close and in person in August -- it's a memory that I'll cherish. Sorry for your loss Wellington, know how much you loved him and cared for him. May he always hold a special place in your heart.

Marie Stoyles-Moura

Saturday night specials like him come along once in a lifetime. He and Escape the Wind spent every Saturday night for years knocking heads in the open, and Mike and I used to talk about how much respect we had for each others horses. He always came with his game face on, ready to race and you knew that each and every night, he was the one you had to beat, he made you earn your money. Heartfelt condolences to Mike and Welly.

A sad loss of such a great competitor who brought out the true spirit in the fans of horse racing, the ones who loved the game for the horses. Condolences to all those involved, especially Welly who was doing a fantastic job promoting the business with the Gladiator. RIP, thanks for the memories!

Tears came to my eyes right away ...unbelievable horse who deserved a long rich retirement...this is so disheartening!! May he RIP!!

So sad to hear this news!! I loved watching this horse. It made me smile when I saw him race.RIP Grey one.

I loved that horse, think they raced him too long at his age but he was a gorgeous horse.

RIP "Grey" a star both on and off the track .. Condolences to Welly, Admirals best friend and the rest of his connections.

Sorry to hear about this - he was a great horse! I only got to see him live on the track once a few years ago at Mohawk, I'm glad I got that opportunity.

Condolences to everyone involved with the horse.

Its a sad day for harness racing, he will be remembered forever in the MacDonell household.

Rest in Peace "old buddy".

May he rest in peace. My condolences to everyone associated with the Admiral. He truly was a magnificent performer and an ultimate fan favourite.

Very sorry to hear the news...one of the all-time greats of Canadian racing...R.I.P.

Very sad news for sure. The racing gods should have looked after him better in his post racing career. Just not fair at all. He brought many out to watch him every Sat nite all over Canada. What a tough hombre. RIP Gladiator

As am i and was last night when it happened. He is the toughest sob i have ever seen i couldn't even begin to explain it. It's a tragic loss to all who knew him or even knew of him.

i am just sick about this...my heart is broken

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