“Right thing to do”: Whereshetoldmetogo retired
Brittany Russell will enter the final month of Laurel Park’s calendar year-ending fall meet leading all trainers in both wins and purses earned, but without one of her barn favorites.
Multiple stakes winner Whereshetoldmetogo, scratched as the program favorite and defending champion in Laurel’s $75,000 Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial Nov. 25, has been retired from racing.
Bred in Maryland by David Wade and campaigned by Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and BTR Racing, Inc., the 7-year-old El Padrino gelding retires with 17 wins, 13 in stakes, and $967,795 in purse earnings from 37 career starts.
“The horse is doing fine and he’s going to have a great second career,” Russell said. “He just wasn’t 100 percent, so we weren’t going to run him. We said this is the time, unfortunately. He’s going to be 8 years old. We wanted to get to a million [dollars], but he doesn’t owe anyone anything.”
Whereshetoldmetogo, out of the Domestic Dispute mare Undisputed Legend, was purchased for $7,000 as a yearling by Mark Esposito’s Black Cloud Racing Stable and won his debut in a June 2017 maiden claimer at Delaware Park for trainer Anthony Pecoraro.
By the time he joined Russell’s barn, the chestnut had won seven of 20 starts, four in stakes, including the 2018 Concern and Star de Naskra in succession at Laurel. That same summer, he ran second by a neck to Grade 1 winner Firenze Fire in the Gallant Bob, then a Grade 3, at Parx.
Whereshetoldmetogo ran fourth in the 2020 Polynesian at Laurel in his first race for Russell, with whom he would race 17 times with 10 wins, nine in stakes, and earn $572,504 in purses, ranking him second only to history-making filly Hello Beautiful ($587,820) as the richest horse Russell has trained. Hello Beautiful was retired in 2021 following her 4-year-old campaign after becoming just the seventh horse to win three Maryalnd Million races.
“We always listened to him and that’s why this past week leading into that race, I felt like this isn’t our horse. This isn’t him,” Russell said. “We decided if he wasn’t right to make it through that one, if you’re going to give it time and bring him back as an 8-year-old, it’s like, ‘Why?’ It wasn’t unlike Hello Beautiful, though she was tailing off. We just wanted to do the right thing by him.
“He was just special in other ways. It’s hard to describe,” she added. “We won a lot of races and did a lot of good together. They were similar in a lot of ways like if you were having a bad day, week, month or whatever it is, you walked one of those two horses over and they just picked everybody up. That’s how he’s been.”
Seven of Whereshetoldmetogo’s stakes wins came at Laurel including the 2020 Frank Whiteley and Dave’s Friend, 2021 Not For Love and Bender Memorial, and 2022 Not For Love. He also won the 2017 First State Dash at Delaware, 2018 American Fabius at Gulfstream Park, and Delaware’s Alapocas Run and New Castle in 2021 and 2022. He finished second in a Delaware allowance Oct. 29 in his final start, which snapped a four-race win streak.
“I had a lot of people ask me the other day when we scratched him, and I wasn’t quite ready to say. Of course, we wanted to walk him over, and he’s the kind of horse that he probably would have run 1, 2, 3, but that wasn’t necessarily the right thing to do to him,” Russell said. “We’re just trying to do the right thing and take care of a horse that’s taken care of all of us.
“He’s given the partnership a lot of thrills, all the stakes that he’s won,” she added. “There’s a lot I feel like he deserves, but at the end of the day you have to take care of the horse first. That’s where we are.”
Russell said Whereshetoldmetogo will join Dr. Allison Marshall, an equine chiropractor based in Mechanicsville, Va. near Richmond, and begin working toward his second career.
“Everybody thought he was going to run the other day, so when I called her and said he’s officially retired she was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I wasn’t expecting that.’ And I was like, ‘Neither was I,'” Russell said. “He’ll probably stay with us for another week or so until they get all set up. He’s going to become a show horse for them.”
Until that time comes, Russell is more than happy to keep Whereshetoldmetogo around.
“Just having him in the shedrow, it’s going to be sad to see him gone,” Russell said. “The ultimate goal was always to see this horse retired healthy and have a great life. He’s earned a lot of money, he’s done a lot of racing.”
“He’s awesome. He’s like, ‘Whenever you want me to do something, let me know,'” she added. “He’ll just have a little bit of time off and really they can just rock on and get him training in what he’s going to be doing now. He wants a job.”