by Frank Vespe
Immortal Eyes, the popular gelding who set a still extant record for 4 1/2 furlongs at Charles Town and won the 2013 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, has been retired.
The 10-year-old son of Greatness-Private Eyes, by Private Terms, leaves racing with 19 wins from 59 career starts and $1,172,846 in earnings. He is now at the farm of veterinarian Sarah Scheper, who cared for him at times during his racing career.
“Sarah took the horse, just made him into a trail riding horse, and he has a happy future,” said Tim Hackerman, whose Stormy Stables co-owned the horse with Five Hellions Farm. Hackerman said that the group had made the decision to retire Immortal Eyes in late July.
Immortal Eyes raced for most of his career in the colors of the Robert Abbo Racing Stable, winning the De Francis to cap off a year in which he won six of 10 starts and earned over $425,000. But Abbo passed away five months after the De Francis victory, and New York-based trainer David Jacobson bought the horse from Abbo’s widow Marcia shortly thereafter.
But after several unproductive starts, the Stormy-Five Hellions group bought the horse privately and returned him to the barn of trainer Damon Dilodovico, who had guided the horse to virtually all of his prior success.
Returning to Dilodovico’s Laurel Park barn, however, did not change the horse’s racing fortunes. The best he could muster in five starts was a second place finish in April at Charles Town against optional $25,000 claimers. He most recently ran fourth against similar company in June at Pimlico.
“There were things that happened along the way that maybe hindered his success a little bit [since his return to the barn],” said Dilodovico. “But I was not going to run him any cheaper than what he was.”
After discussion, the group decided that retirement was the best option.
“I think getting the horse back here was great,” said Hackerman. “It was the right thing to do for him. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it again.”
Dilodovico agreed, though perhaps a touch more wistfully.
“It’s very sad when they leave your barn — it is, it’s ridiculous how sad it is,” he said. “But we’re happy for where he is now.”