Hales On 'The Admiral' Returning To Woodbine

Published: November 27, 2008 02:35 pm EST

He's dazzled hardcore fans at Woodbine Racetrack numerous times over his thrilling career, and now Admirals Express is set to make his return to the lightning-fast oval since coming out of retirement this past spring.

Admirals Express, Canada's Horse of the Year in 2005, lowered his mark to 1:48.2 over the Woodbine seven-eighths mile strip in 2005 at age nine. The career winner of 81 races and over $2.1 million in purses has surely lost a step or two since putting in scintillating miles just a few years ago, but trainer Mike Hales ensured to Trot Insider that the old warhorse still has a boatload of fight left in him.

"I don't see why he isn't a top conditioned horse right now, even with his age," Hales said. "To me there isn't any other place to race him [than on the WEG circuit]."

Hales told Trot Insider that, because of some issues beyond his control, he hasn't been able to race Admirals Express for "about a month," but that he does expect his star pupil to be in prime form soon. "I think he'll need a race to get race-sharp, but he is currently race-tight right now," Hales said. "With the class he is in Saturday I think he will do well. There is no reason that in about one month he can't be up at the Open level."

Admirals Express

The 12-year-old son of Admirals Galley last raced November 4 at Georgian Downs in the $16,000 Preferred Pace. With young pilot Scott Zeron at his controls, 'The Admiral' stalked patiently and finished fifth, two and three-quarter lengths in arrears to Astreos Flash in a 1:52.3 mile. "Even Tigerama got beat in that mile," Hales explained. "To his credit, Tigerama got a rough trip, but so did we. We were out early, eventually got shuffled a bit and locked in at points. I was pleased with the way he raced."

There is one aspect that Hales touched on that fans would never see in the past: his ability to race in a hole. "He's had no choice," he said. "When he was at his peak, he would leave and make front. Nobody would come at him because they knew that he wasn't going to let anyone go. [The ability to race out of a hole] is something that has come with age. He isn't able to fire out and make front without someone coming at him. He doesn't have that respect anymore."

Admirals Express has wowed crowds all over Ontario, but to Hales it's all about Woodbine. "He's always been better over Woodbine than Mohawk [Racetrack] and we are looking forward to racing."

To view the draw and morning lines for Admirals Express' race Saturday, click here.



The Admiral looks sounder now than he did three years.This is no ordinary animal, if he did not want to race he would let us know obviously he is stil game and loves to compete.People are saying he has had his time he was one of the greatest, maybe there is still more history to be made. This is not about money for the connections. This is letting an athlete do what he loves and that is race.Hats off to Mike not many trainers could keep a horse on top of his game as long as Mike has.I for one hopes the Gladiator races until he is 14 this is what harness raceing needs more seniors showing us they are still usefull.We all no where less gifted horses end up when they are threw racing.So lets wait for the Gladiator to tell us when he wants to hang up the hoppels.Chris Curran.

I once questioned why Mike Hales and the owners of The 'Grey Gladiator' brought him back to the track. As one of the Admiral's biggest fans, I too was concerned for his well being but now that understand this is where he wants to be... then go for it. The Admiral has always been his best at Woodbine (1:48.2 and 1:48.4)! Everyone has to trust that Mike will take care of him. He certainly looked great on Staurday night, just getting beat at the wire. He doesn't have the same closing speed he once possessed but he certainly looked like 'the Admiral of old' on Saturday.

I think we'd be hard pressed to find a more competitve 12 YEAR OLD!

Good luck 'Grey One' I'm still cheering for you and always will!

In reply to by Carey (not verified)

what would the record be for the fastest win time by a 12 year old horse...if he was to win at woodbine im sure it would have to be a record of some sorts...also goes for his 13th and 14th year

he just finished 2nd sat night at woodbine looked fine to me keep on racing him good job mike

The admiral knows what he wants to do.He will let Mike know when its time. Good luck old fella.

Not every athelete is the same. Gordie Howe played with 20yr olds when he was in his 40s. Mike loves this horse and would not harm him for purse money. They tried to retire once and the Admiral was chomping at the bit to get back at it. Let the horse do what he loves.

He never did any good at georgian and KD in his career, I for 1 am going to cheer on the Admiral. I think everyone should go up and watch him at the farm for a day and see how he is before saying he is lame he is to old, and He deserves a field. He does deserve a field but He is very competetive...
Go get them old man......

Some horses love to race...interact with people, get their daily excercise, go to the track, they love the attention and routine. I've seen some less classy horses, that loved to race retired rather than drop in class and become misserable in the paddock without the routine and interaction.

If the Admiral is sound, and loves to race, then I think the owners owe it to the horse to race him, in what-ever class until he is 14. That is what is best for this horse.

Forget the slots, forget the money, forget the fan opinions - let young drivers experience some back-class and let the horse be what he is, a racehorse. His health and happiness should be the focus, if he is healthy and happy racing, let him race.

If he was in a race at a local track, he'd get part of my betting dollar everytime.

All I have to say is welcome back Admiral. Ive seen him in person run at Mohawk and Georgian this year and think he is still capable of going out and winning. Good luck Mike and Admiral, all of your fans will be behind you.

In reply to by Jimmy (not verified)

I think its great that this horse is still racing!! He was retired yes, was used to train with a younger horse, his sister i do believe, and the old fella was as sharp as ever...the horse was telling them i still want to race. Yes they had a retirement party for him which was well deserved after all the thrills he gave race fans at Woodbine. They also had retirement celebrations for Michael JOrdon, Mario Lemieux, ect. were people complaining when these guys came back to their sports. If the Beach doesnt cut it in the breeding shed and they decide to race him again in a few years after he retired would you people be upset?? I highly doubt it. Im 100% sure the connections of this old horse would not be racing him if was lame or unable to compete at a respectable level. When it comes to a point that he gets lame or races the bottom conditions and keeps finishing up the track that will be it for him. They will not torture or make a fool of him guarentee that. Wouldnt it be nice for a great horse like this race right up until he was 14. This day in age there are very few that even get to 14 let alone one of this caliber. Good luck to the admiral and his connections, love to see you prove all of the knockers wrong.

Go get 'em Admiral, Mike knows what is best for this legend, he is with him every day. Good luck on your return to WEG, I'll be routing for you.

Seriosly people this is horse racing the Admiral should race until hes 14 as far as im concerned as long as he stays sound and healthy and can compete at the top of his game

I say go for it - no one is going to ban a competitive horse from any circuit that is ridiculus. The connections must be proud to see the old boy still going strong.

I believe as long as he stays sound and healthy and is competitive, why not try him? Some people believe that a horse's psychology is affected when it is passed by other horses ...some don't. It would be a shame to see him struggling in the lower classes, if not or the horse for the perception of the sport to the public. When a champion and ambassador to racing is relegated to being less than mediocre, it would be a sad sight and I am sure the connections would pull the plug. The same goes for if he gets hurt ... don't bring him back, and let fans remember how great he is and was. I would hope some thought has gone into how long he will race .. it would be very sad if he is just pushed until an inevitable injury occurs. Tread carefully and good luck.

Leave him be !!!! He's done!!! He was retired and now what?? Are times that tough that the connections have to drag a few more bucks out of him?? and then what...another retirement party?? How ridiculous give this horse the respect he deserves !!!!!!!!!!

Why does it matter, when a person retires they sometimes go out and get a part time job. Maybe you guys are worried that he will win and take the purse money from those that race at woodbine. hes back so suck it up!

This guy has gone so many monster miles that he must be praying for pasture!And if he can,t go like we remember him going than let it go man.Let the "GLADIATOR" have his day.And his day,s shouldn,t be spennt at Woodbine anymore. Lets remember all those 49 miles with 25 and change opening quarters and the Grey taking on all comers!If something ever happened to the old boy now man,you would be heart broken!

I watched the admiral at KD,he looks as good as ever and has made enough money in just under a year as some make lifetime.

Are you kidding?Horses are nothing more then commodities.If a horse can race at a level where it is competitive then there is no reason why the owners should not race the horse.The horse does not know if it is up against open pacers or 3000 claimers.
It amazes me how some feel this is cruel and unjust.What is cruel and unjust is that these beautiful animals sit in a stall for the better part of their life.Once out they are subjected to a grueling training and racing schedule and to top it all off they are whipped
in order to achive maximum performance in quest for the almighty dollar.
So lets get off our liberal soap boxes because your cry for justice is laden with hypocrisies.

This is a dream story. I have a mare who got pretty depressed when we took her away from racing for a few months. Now back, the old lady is having a career year and exudes attitude. Some horses, probably like the Admiral, just LOVE to race. When they're ready to retire, they'll tell you.
So, don't feel SORRY for the Admiral, feel HAPPY for him! He's doing what he loves! If someone told me it was time to retire to my gardening and armchair, they wouldn't get a Christmas card from me this year, or any year. These owners love their horse and retired him once. The choice to come back was probably the Admiral's, not theirs...
Mike, may you and the Admiral win many, many more. Wonderful story and best wishes to you both!

The owners of this horse should be truly ashamed.
Their greed is overwhelming.
Its just one example of the damage (slot-driven) purses are doing to the sport.

Based on the majority of comments so far in this thread I'm assuming everyone that wants to see the grey gladiator retired also wants to see all horses lets say the age of 9 and up retired right? Especially the claimers. If not it would mean there are some very hypocritical statements getting thrown around here. Why is it okay for average or less than average horses to race until they are 14 and not the grey gladiator? What if his name was brown horse joe and he was 12 and he had won 14 races and switched barn to barn every week. Would it be okay then?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

If Admirals Express stays sound he should be able to race. He is a gelding so the breeding shed is out of question. He was a great horse in his prime and if he can still be a useful horse, why not let him do what he loves best. The heart of a warrior is still in him, i would still like to see the old boy go, i just don,t want to see him get hurt. He has already gave us a lot of thrills and maybe he can give a few more. He won,t have to go as fast in the winter and he might just fool a lot of people. I wish him the best. Go Admiral Go.

The Admiral is one of the greatest race horses of our time. He has had a very long and decorated career. I loved to watch him go , because i thought when he was on there was none better.I don,t know if it was such a great idea bringing him back. I guess as long as the old boy is sound you may as well let him do what he likes best. If he is still a useful horse , why not, but if he gets sore or lame the best thing to do would be to let him enjoy his well earned retirement. He owes nobody anything, he was at the top level for a long time and was always a warrior, i just pray he doesn,t get hurt. He deserves better , he is a champion.Everybody loves him already and he has nothing left to prove. Surely he made the connections Enough money that they could buy lots of good horses for them. Sometimes people just go to far. Admiral lover John King

I can't understand why a horse with this much heart, who has done and been through so much, can't retire in peace. There is no doubt he is a wonderous animal, but that doesn't mean he should be pushed to the limits!! He deserves a paddock with his name on it for the rest of his life, and there is no doubt in my mind that it what he would love, more then racing at age 12 (soon to be 13). Think of the horse and give him what he needs and more then deserves...a nice, relaxing retirement!!

I feel so bad for this horse everytime I see him step on the track. You would think a horse like that would have a paddock with his name on it for the rest of his life. After all that he has accomplished and been through, I would imagine he would like nothing more then a nice, relaxing retirement. He just has to much heart to finish up the track!!

this horse gave his heart and his life in racing... please let him enjoy good time and retire him.

I remember back a few years ago Hales being crucified for racing this great animal and people begging officials to scratch and ban him for lameness....what a joke ..look at what he achieved since then...If you think he is ready to rumble ...rock on Mike Hales..Good Luck and see you in the winners circle!

If he can't win at georgian or kawartha, how is he going to compete at woodbine?

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the Admiral race again at Woodbine. I'm wishing The Admiral & Mike all the best. I know they threw a retirement party for him but if you were there you could clearly see he didn't want to retire. Perhaps he just needed the year off to re-coup -- I have been enjoying him race this year.

I believe that the horse is technically in good standing with all jurisdictions. If so shouldn't the horse be able to race anywhere the connections desire?

This is atrocious and why won't Woodbine ban the horse from competing on its circuit?
It fact, it had a big party for him when he was "retired" and now it all looks silly.
Giving these people press is silly too.

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