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Hoffman On Friendly Farmer Retirement


Published: November 17, 2010 9:49 am ET

Last Comment: November 17, 2010 12:00 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Trainer Fred Hoffman is no stranger to the claiming game. He has seen his fair share of stock come and go. That is why the recently-retired Friendly Farmer p,5,1:50.4s ($333,940) stuck out like a sore thumb in Hoffman's barn -- but in a good way.

Friendly Farmer made 171 career starts and compiled a record of 33 wins, 14 second-place finishes and 20 thirds. The nine-year-old bay gelding grinded his way to $333,940 in purses, the majority of which was earned in Ontario.

At first glance, the story of a nine-year-old gelding that grinded his way to over $300,000 in earnings in the purse-rich Ontario doesn't seem overly noteworthy. But being a Manitoba-bred -- the fastest Manitoba-bred in history, at that -- the accomplishment is something to shake a stick at.

The son of Firm Friend out of the B Crafty mare Tomorrows Pride earned the distinction of being the fastest Manitoba-bred of all time in 2006 at Woodbine Racetrack. After having sat in the garden spot through some decent opening half-mile speed, driver Luc Ouellette pulled the pocket. Friendly Farmer scampered to the open-length win, which was also a dead-heat win with Coldheartedrevenge.

After making his first 28 starts for trainers Don Anness, Rheal Bourgeois and Sherri Mason, Friendly Farmer was acquired by Hoffman in the spring of his three-year-old season (2004). The gelding went on to make 143 starts for Hoffman and turned out to be an institution in what is generally an ever-changing outfit.

"He was quite the character," Hoffman told Trot Insider. "Because he was in my barn for so long, he was in the first stall as soon as I would come in. He would see me coming and just start pawing. He wouldn't stop until he either got food or some attention. He would also start pawing to be the first to go out on the track."

Hoffman said that Friendly Farmer was a good-feeling horse -- almost like a colt. "I remember going a trip with him before I bought him," he said. "He was just going along, but as soon as he hit the stretch he just put his ears back and took off. He sure liked to come home."

Hoffman said that while training in the morning, people would always ask him how 'The Farmer' was doing. The Farmer was doing fine, as he slugged out a respectable career for himself over Ontario's top tracks.

Hoffman explained that The Farmer "had a few knee problems" over the course of his career, but that he ran into some problems with a suspensory this year.

"He underwent the platelet rich plasma treatment to help him along. We started him back the first time at Flamboro (on October 3) and he went a mile in [1] :57. It seemed to take a toll on him. You could tell he was favouring it (the suspensory) after that race. We retired him later in the month."

As for a post-race career, Hoffman said that he had options for Friendly Farmer. Some of those options entailed the veteran to go to the United States, but as Hoffman explained, a new home for The Farmer was not too far away.

"Rheal Bourgeois told me about a young boy in Aurora -- I think it was -- who was looking for a horse. I could've shipped him to the [United States] if I wanted, but it seemed like a good idea to send him to this place where he was going to have a great retirement."

November 17, 2010 - 12:00 pmAt 9 years old a retirement

At 9 years old a retirement for Friendly Farmer seems fitting if it is in his best interest. I am glad there are some people in the sport that genuinelly care for their horses and would rather see them retire then do more damage to them. Congrats to this fine person, Fred Hoffman and to Friendly Farmer for a very successful career.

I would play him at Woodbine/Mohawk since 2005, from time to time, and seem to pick the right times to play him. I hit quite a few times with him but more so I enjoy horses that others seem to think less of (for some reason) but know they are just as good as the next horse. Whether they lacking something that other horses have their heart is actually what makes me like a horse and I know this horse has heart.

Janelle Scherbik

PS I am a bit sad to hear of the retirement of this fine race horse but it is best for him and hope he has a great retirement.

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