Year after year, owner Marc Goldberg would feel a sense of warmth cut through winter’s chill as he anticipated the return of star trotter Arch Madness. But this year, and beyond, Goldberg will rely on memories.
Arch Madness, who turned 11 on January 1, will not return to the races. Goldberg said the Trond Smedshammer-trained gelding, whose career wins included a Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot and Oslo Grand Prix en route to $4.32 million in purses, has been retired.
“It’s so bittersweet, I can’t tell you,” said Goldberg, who owned Arch Madness with Barry Goldstein’s Willow Pond LLC. “I have such a letdown right now. Trond would be bringing him in anytime now off his layoff to start to get him ready for the spring. But I don’t think he can handle the top rung and I just didn’t think it was fair to him to put him through that.
“In my mind, it was time to do right by the horse and it was time to let him live out his life the way he’s supposed to. I’m going to miss him immensely when they start racing. It’s going to be a tough spring and summer to go through without him. But he gave us his heart and soul for eight years and it’s time for him to relax and love life.”
Goldberg, Goldstein and Steven Shapiro bred Arch Madness, a son of Balanced Image out of the mare Armbro Archer. Arch Madness stood a little crooked as a young horse, but matured into a multiple-stakes-winner. He raced only twice at age two, but made headlines the following season when he upset eventual Horse of the Year Donato Hanover in the 2007 Breeders Crown for three-year-old male trotters.
“We bought the mare and for some reason I decided to breed her to Balanced Image at the end of his (stallion) career,” Goldstein said. “Why, I don’t recall; probably for all the wrong reasons. David Meirs raised the horse and did a wonderful job. But he wasn’t really an attractive horse at all. I told Trond to just stick with him and we’d see what happens. We just got very lucky.
“It was a wonderful experience and I met a lot of nice people as a result. We had a lot of fun.”
Arch Madness retires as the richest Canadian-sired Standardbred and ranks No. 6 in earnings among all trotters in history, and second to only Moni Maker among trotters that raced the majority of their careers in North America. He made a record seven appearances in the Breeders Crown and trotted a world-record 1:50.2 mile at age seven – and equalled the mark at age nine.
His top triumphs came in the 2007 Breeders Crown for three-year-olds, 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, 2011 Oslo Grand Prix, 2010 Cutler Memorial, 2009 Credit Winner, and 2013 Allerage Open Trot.
He finished second in Sweden’s Elitloppet in 2012 and 2013. He also finished second twice in the Breeders Crown Open, in 2008 and 2009, and twice in the Maple Leaf Trot, in 2009 and 2011.
“There were so many high points to his career, it’s hard to pick any one out,” Goldstein said. “The Breeders Crown when he beat Donato (Hanover) was a highlight, and maybe the Oslo Grand Prix would also stick out. We were standing there and they’re playing the national anthem, and I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I started singing. Those would probably be my two high points.”
Said Goldberg, “The Maple Leaf Trot was really unbelievable. Just to see the look on Trond’s face and how happy he was, I can still picture him running across the track. That was huge. Of course, beating Donato in the Breeders Crown was just amazing. Everyone thought the (elimination win) was a fluke and we came back and did it the exact same way. That was just great.
“The durability of this horse, year after year, he was up to the challenge. There were new horses every year and he took them all on. He was an absolute warrior. That was his greatest attribute. He answered the bell for every single race against the best.”
Smedshammer agreed that Arch Madness’ win in the Breeders Crown was among the most memorable, but said the horse’s best performance came in winning the 2011 Titan Cup by eight lengths over Lucky Jim in 1:50.2.
“He was vicious,” Smedshammer said. “I’ve always said that was at least a (1):49 mile because the track was so deep that night. I would say that was his best race ever. The Allerage (in 2013) also was special. That was almost magical because we didn’t expect it.
“Every year he used to come up with a moment. Those Balanced Images are just iron-tough horses. He was always a fairly sound horse, he didn’t have any major issues. I don’t know what makes some horses last year after year. It’s certainly inside of them. It’s their mentality.”
Goldberg said Arch Madness’ success was a team effort, from the time the horse was born through his final race. Among the many people Goldberg cited were driver Brian Sears, who guided Arch Madness to many of his biggest wins, Smedshammer and caretakers Maria Kristensen and Ida Nilsen.
“He’s got his demons, Arch,” Goldberg said, laughing. “He’s a crazy, crazy guy. Without Maria and Ida, he might have been really unmanageable. They adored him and did an unbelievable job with him. And he was managed very well. You have to give Trond the credit. He’s a world-class horseman.
“I can’t thank people enough. There were so many people along the way that helped out.”
Arch Madness will stay in New Jersey for another week before heading to the farm of Mike Andrew in Maine, where he will be reunited with his old Smedshammer Stable buddy Likeabatoutahell. After the winter, Arch Madness will likely return to New Jersey so Goldberg can remain near the horse.
“He gave me the memories of a lifetime,” Goldberg said. “Whenever I’m down I just go on the computer and click on one of his races and ‘bingo.’
“I was fortunate enough to say that I owned him. The experiences he afforded me and my family, you couldn’t write a better script. I never thought anything like that would happen for me. It was a dream, an absolute dream. He took us for a great ride. I owe it all to him.
“Trond said he checked in on Arch and he’s loving life. That’s the way we need it to be for the old man.
“Now it’s his time.”
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.
No doubt one of the best,
No doubt one of the best, toughest and most durable trotters out there. I always loved watching him race! I am not sure we will ever see one like him againkudos though to the owners for making the difficult decision about retirement. He sure deserves it and I hope it will be a long and happy one for him! I'll miss you, Archie :-)
Just a SUPER article about
Just a SUPER article about what a horse can do for people. Everyone involved with Arch Madness loves and respects what he has accomplished. "Long and Healthy Life" to him !!!!