Undefeated grade 1 winner Army Mule, who raced in the colors of St. Elias Stable, has been retired from racing and will stand stud duty at Hill 'n' Dale Farms for 2019, the farm announced Oct. 6. The horse will stand for a $10,000 fee.
An $825,000 2-year-old purchase, the son of Friesan Fire broke his maiden impressively for Todd Pletcher at Belmont Park, where he demolished the field by 8 1/2 lengths. Sent off as the clear favorite in his next start at Gulfstream Park, Army Mule reaffirmed his talent with a 7 1/2-length romp in 1:08.87, which was :0.75 off the track record established by Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Big Drama.
His crowning achievement came at Aqueduct Racetrack in his stakes debut, the Carter Handicap (G1), where he drew off and stopped the clock for seven furlongs in 1:20.94. The race established him as the leader of his division and earned him a 114 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest up to a mile in 2018.
"From the moment I watched the video of his work at the Timonium sale, I was determined to have Army Mule in our stable," said St. Elias owner Vinnie Viola. "His performance on the track, culminating in a dominating win in the Carter Handicap with his 114 Beyer, confirmed our decision to bid aggressively for him. Army Mule retires as an undefeated grade 1 winner. Our confidence in him was rewarded, and with his racing performance and beautiful physical, we look forward to Army Mule going on to a great stud career at Hill 'n' Dale, where we are excited to support him."
"Army Mule was a special talent," Pletcher said. "He was a pleasure to train, with a terrific disposition and gorgeous conformation. He had a high cruising speed that allowed him to win a grade 1 sprint, but I also believe he could have carried it over a route of ground had he been given the opportunity."
"Army Mule won his first three starts by more than 22 lengths," said John Sikura, president of Hill 'n' Dale Farms. "His facile win in the Carter in near-track-record time left no doubt he was a generational talent. When breeders see the horse in person, they will be overwhelmed by his presence and understand why he was the talk of the Maryland 2-year-old sale, making $825.000. Undefeated, brilliant and beautiful, the same qualities we saw in Candy Ride and Maclean's Music . Breeders will love him."
Army Mule was bred in Pennsylvania by Hope Hill Farm out of the Crafty Prospector mare Crafty Toast and was a $35,000 purchase by Scanlon Training & Sales from Bill Reightler's consignment to Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Fall Yearlings Sale in 2015. He was pinhooked by Scanlon to the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, where Crupi's New Castle Farm signed the ticket.