LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- General Quarters, the two-time Grade 1 winner who made his septuagenarian owner-trainer one of the most popular Kentucky Derby stories of recent years, was retired Monday after finishing last of 13 in the Clark Handicap on Friday at his home track of Churchill Downs.
Tom McCarthy said General Quarters is not injured but that he was concerned about the lack of interest the 5-year-old horse had shown in his recent races.
"It's time," said McCarthy, 77. "He walked over there Friday like an old cow. Usually, he's all full of vim and vigor, so maybe he's telling us something. Funny, but he was kicking the barn down this morning [Monday]. He's done enough for me, that's for sure. He gave me one of the best times of my life, and I've been working with horses since I was 9."
General Quarters, by Sky Mesa, won just 4 of 27 starts, but two of his wins were huge, coming in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland as a 3-year-old of 2009 and in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the 2010 Derby undercard. His career earnings were $1,226,655.
McCarthy claimed General Quarters for $20,000 from his career debut in May 2008 at Churchill. After his victory at 14-1 in the Blue Grass, McCarthy became a celebrity during Derby week because of the highly improbable nature of his story: he was a 75-year-old retired schoolteacher whose one-horse stable was running in the world's greatest race. General Quarters finished 10th behind Mine That Bird before going on to run ninth in the Preakness two weeks later.
McCarthy said he has "about six offers" for General Quarters as a stallion prospect and that he expected to make a decision about his stud career in the coming days.