Trot Insider has learned that Alarm Detector, the 2017 O’Brien Award winner for two-year-old trotting colts has been retired to stud duty. For the last decade, Tara Hills’ Kadabra and Muscle Mass have sat atop the charts as the leading trotting sires in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, a place where, someday, the connections of Alarm Detector hope to see his name.
Alarm Detector, a $110,000 Harrisburg yearling was the cream of the crop in his two-year-old year, winning six of seven starts en route to his aforementioned O’Brien. His biggest victories during his freshman season were an absolute romp in the Define The World Series at Mohawk Racetrack, followed by a sweep of the William Wellwood Memorial, where he would take the $400,000 final in Canadian record fashion.
Alarm Detector’s victory in the final, by a crushing five-and-a-quarter lengths in 1:52.4, was a win with “authority,” as called by track announcer Ken Middleton. The record win is one of owner Tom Rankin’s most cherished memories of the star trotter.
“It was the middle of September, the night was starting to get cooler and he went out and set the track and Canadian record...it was the thrill of a lifetime,” recalled the longtime horseman who co-owns Alarm Detector with his wife Elizabeth Rankin, Claude Hamel and Santo Vena.
Rankin also reflected on the gritty effort by Alarm Detector in the Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands at age three. “He set unbelievable fractions [:26.2, :54.4, 1:22.3] and just got beat for second. He trotted his own mile that night in 1:50.4. He is by far, without a doubt the fastest horse I have ever owned. He really and truly is such a machine and is so talented... and he is as solidly built as they come.”
After his record-setting freshman campaign, Alarm Detector made an appearance in many of the big Grand Circuit dances as a three-year-old, such as the Hambletonian, Zweig and the Canadian Trotting Classic, earning $398,848.
Now four, and recently a winner on August 19 at Mohawk in 1:53.3 by six-and-a-quarter lengths, one would question the reason for retiring a trotter with such supreme attributes. “He has had problems with bone bruises behind since he was two-years-old, we’ve given him time to recover multiple times over the years but he just isn’t 100 percent. We’ve tried multiple methods of healing his issues and even though he’s not lame, he is too great of an animal to push and [potentially] hurt. So that’s why we decided to retire him and stand him stud. It’s the right thing to do,” trainer Ben Baillargeon told Trot Insider.
Baillargeon, who is no stranger to training exceedingly talented trotters, speaks highly of Alarm Detector and is confident he will make a prolific stallion.
“He bred nine mares this year and they are all in foal. So he is very fertile and that’s really important. He bred White Becomes Her and she’s in foal, so I think his fertility is going to be a huge asset for him. He is a very fast horse...he’s so push button and he has such a quick turn of foot. He’s the best two-year-old I have ever trained and he raced a lot of tough miles when he wasn’t 100 percent. He has spectacular breeding as well.”
And spectacular breeding he has indeed. The son of hot trotting stallion Chapter Seven (sire of Atlanta, Walner, etc.) would currently be the only Chapter Seven to stand in Ontario. Alarm Detector’s dam, Final Countdown, is a full sister to trotting stallions Ken Warkentin (3,1:52.3; $1,066,946) and Holiday Road (3,1:52.4; $426,200).
Rankin, who is also no stranger to breeding and raising talented horses, is also very confident about Alarm Detector’s stallion career. “I think he is going to make an awesome sire. I’m so confident in him that I bred four of my own best mares to him this year. That’s how confident I am in him. Every mare he bred, they were in foal the first time.”
Alarm Detector will stand at Tara Hills Stud in Port Perry, Ont. for the 2020 breeding season. More details will follow.