By Jim Freer
Bill Kaplan will saddle three horses on Saturday and then retire from a thoroughbred training career in which he had six graded stakes-winning horses including the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Musical Romance.
Kaplan’s final races will be in stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
He has been a trainer since the late 1970s with his stable at Calder Casino & Race Course and later at Gulfstream Park.
“It’s just time,” Kaplan said. “I’m 70 years old and I think I’d rather do some other things at this stage of my life than get up every morning at 4:30 a.m. I’ve been thinking about it since last year. I’ve been doing this for 37 years. I’m financially secure, I’m relatively healthy, and I want to enjoy myself.”
Kaplan will remain the bloodstock agent for Pinnacle Racing Stable one of his primary clients. Kaplan and Pinnacle were co-owners of Musical Romance, who won eight stakes races with four of them graded.
After her Breeders’ Cup win at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Musical Romance was voted the winner of the Eclipse Award as Champion Female Sprinter for 2011.
On our blog this past Tuesday, we were the first to report on Kaplan’s retirement.
On Monday, Pinnacle utilized its Facebook page to announce Kaplan’s retirement. The announcement included a heart-felt tribute from Adam Lazarus, Pinnacle’s managing partner.
“I got all choked up when I read it,” Kaplan told us.
The text of Lazarus’s letter is at the end of his article.
Transfer of Horses
Kaplan said that several of the horses he has been training are being transferred to trainer Stan Gold. That includes all six horses owned by Pinnacle’s partnerships, Lazarus said.
Kaplan added that two horses are being transferred to trainer Milt Wolfson and that he has arranged the sales of several other horses.
Gold and Wolfson are stabled at Gulfstream. Gold is a public trainer. For the past decade he has trained exclusively for Jacks or Better Farm, with considerable success that has included three sweeps of divisions in the Florida Stallion Stakes Series for two-year-olds.
In 1995, Kaplan swept the male division with Seacliff. That horse was owned by Herbert and Ione Elkins, two of his long—time clients.
Kaplan heads into Saturday with 615 winners in 4,868 career starts. He also has 673 second place finishes and 681third place finishes. His horses have earned $18,752,003. The numbers are from the Equibase Web site.
Kaplan does not have any horses running today and he has no entrants at Gulfstream tomorrow.
Kaplan’s final race will be the eighth at Tampa Bay tomorrow. He will send out Extravagant Kid in the $75,000 Sophomore at six furlongs on dirt for three-year-olds. Vicino Racing Stables owns Extravagant Kid.
In the sixth race, the $75,000 Turf Classic, Kaplan has My Point Exactly. That horse is owned by a partnership of Pinnacle, Robert Norman and the team of Roger Justice and Jack Hendricks.
In the seventh race, the $75,000 Sophomore Fillies, Kaplan has Chief Attraction. Her owners are Pinnacle and Norman.
Justice and Hendricks also owned East Hall, who was trained by Kaplan. East Hall won the Indiana Derby (Grade 2) at Indiana Downs in 2014, the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview at Calder during the Gulfstream Park West meet in 2014 and two other stakes races.
|As his stable grew, Kaplan also became known for his keen eye at yearlings and two-year-olds at sales.|
Musical Romance, who earned $1.6 million and later sold at auction for $1.6 million, was purchased for $22,000. East Hall, who earned $870,000, was bought for $55,000. East Hall, a 5-year-old gelding is now retired from racing.
Kaplan’s other graded stakes winners were Seacliff, Mr. Livingston, Another Romance and Ekati’s Phaeton.
In 2007, Kaplan saddled Imawildandcrazyguy to a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1)—behind one of the strongest group of first to third finishers in the recent history of that race.
Kaplan’s horse finished a half-length behind Curlin, who went on to win the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade 1) and Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year. Street Sense won that Kentucky Derby, followed by Hard Spun.
Originally from Brooklyn, Kaplan was a second lieutenant in the Army and recipient of a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in Vietnam.
He also was a CPA who obtained a pilot’s license before heading to South Florida in the 1970s. Shortly after his arrival he started Air South, an airline that flew throughout the southeast that grew to 10 planes and 15 pilots. After purchasing a few horses, he took out his trainer’s license and won his first race in 1980.
Kaplan never looked back. “I fell in love with Thoroughbred racing the first time I was around it,” he said.
Here is the tribute to Kaplan from Adam Lazarus, entitled “A Fathers Greatest Gift”
My family has given me some great gifts in my life but none greater than my father setting up a dinner at a Chinese restaurant to meet Bill Kaplan. If I was to say that a dinner between myself, my dad and Bill would change my life it would be hard to believe but I can say without hesitation that it did.
My father said one thing about Bill that I think is extremely important today as it was 14 years ago ” you can trust Bill”.
For 14 years he has been the trainer for Pinnacle Racing Stable. This Saturday will be his final day as trainer when he saddles our stakes winner My Point Exactly at Tampa Bay Downs.
The partnership has had a very close and in many ways a unique relationship with Bill over its 14 years. There are not enough ways I could personally thank Bill for all that he has done for me and the partnership. Very few trainers would provide the access that he has for our partners and that has been one of the best things about our program. It took us several years to develop a relationship as well as a level of trust that we have today. In a business where people change their boxers as frequently as they change trainers I was always proud of the fact that our relationship was stronger than any winning percentage.
Success for the partnership was not overnight. It took 20 plus starts before Pinnacle Racing Stable entered the winner’s circle. There were many days in the parking lot of Calder Race Course putting flyers in people’s windshields about joining Pinnacle Racing Stable and me wondering would we ever find success!
Those tough times were finally rewarded when BK selected a filly out of the OBS sale for 22k that would provide Pinnacle Partners a ride of a lifetime. It was BK”s decision alone to roll the dice and spend 135k to enter Musical Romance in the Breeders’ Cup and the rest they say is history!!!!
If someone would ask what would I miss most about not having Bill Kaplan as our trainer it would be the mornings on his golf cart or in his office learning or asking him as many questions as I could ask so I can learn more about the game that I truly love.
Horse racing is a challenging business filled with a roller coaster of emotions and times of success and failure. I am glad I was guided in Bill Kaplan’s direction it has made all the difference!!!!
BK will continue to be a big part of the Pinnacle Racing Stable team as he will be front and center when we buy young horses to add to the partnership.
Thanks for reading.
Adam Lazarus Managing Partner Pinnacle Racing Stable
Trainer Kaplan to Retire After This Weekend