Harper’s First Ride, who earned just shy of $700,000 and won the Grade III Pimlico Special in 2020, has been retired through the Beyond The Wire program and currently resides at MidAtlantic Horse Rescue in Warwick, Md. He was bred by in Maryland by Sagamore Farm.
Harper’s First Ride, who started 23 times, was claimed for $30,000 at Churchill Downs in September 2019 by owner Robert Bone and trainer Claudio Gonzalez from a race in which he broke his maiden. He was shipped to Laurel Park and won his next two races—both allowance events—and won nine more races for his connections.
In 2020 along with the Pimlico Special, the gelding by Paynter out of Polyester, by Tiz Wonderful, won the Deputed Testamony Stakes, Richard W. Small Stakes and Native Dancer Stakes, and finished second in the Maryland Million Classic. His final race came July 31, 2021, at Pimlico Race Course, where he won the Deputed Testamony for a second time. Jockey Angel Cruz was aboard for Harper’s First Ride in each of his five stakes victories.
Toward the end of his run, Harper’s First Ride was owned by GMP Stables, Arnold Bennewith and Cypress Creek Equine. After his second victory in the Deputed Testamony, the gelding was sidelined with an injury and eventually was sent to one of the owner’s farm in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to recuperate.
Troy Singh, assistant to Gonzalez, said that for more than a year attempts were made to bring Harper’s First Ride back to the races, but it wasn’t in the cards. “He had a suspensory that bothered him, and we decided we didn’t want to push him,” Singh said.
Executive Director Jessica Hammond Commented, “We are glad to see the owners and trainers trust the program. Our facilities have the best outlet for great clientele and consequently successful adoptions. There’s no telling what a horse will do in a second career…there are plenty of claiming level horses that go on to do stellar things but it is exciting for us to get a horse of this caliber.”
With earnings of $699,664 at the time of his retirement, Harper’s First Ride is the richest racehorse to have gone through Beyond The Wire, Maryland’s Thoroughbred aftercare program.