Lava Man should stay retired

The retirement of Lava Man lasted about as long as the 21-month hiatus of champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather returned last week to pound the smaller Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden. Who knows if Lava Man can do the same again to the handicap division?

The Daily Racing Form reported that Lava Man has been undergoing stem cell treatment and is looking and training like his old self. Lava Man was forced into retirement because of bad ankles and slow races. The stem cell treatments have improved his ankles to the point that trainer Doug O’Neill has accepted the challenge of bringing back Lava Man.

It won’t be easy. Ron McAnally tried two decades ago to bring John Henry out of retirement at the request of owner Sam Rubin. McAnally protected John Henry and, after some slow workouts, the great gelding was retired for good.

I suspect O’Neill will do right by Lava Man. His speed figures in his final year of racing showed Lava Man had lost his edge.

If Lava Man is unable to compete in graded stakes, then why bother? He has made more than $5 million in his career. He owes owners Steve Kenly and Jason Wood nothing. And, God forbid something happens to Lava Man right before the Breeders’ Cup, it would be a public relations nightmare.

We have seen a lot of pro athletes stay around too long. I’d rather remember Lava Man as a seven-time Grade 1 stakes winner.

SANTA ANITA — How’s this for irony: For as many critical comments as I received last week for suggesting that a non-American, namely Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, should buy Santa Anita Park, then I read days later that Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has agreed to buy 80 percent of the New Jersey Nets.

So what’s the difference between foreign investment in an NBA team or Santa Anita? None whatsoever.

TWIN Q — A big carry-over of $10,014 will be available in the Station Casinos Twin Quinella wager, which returns Wednesday with Oak Tree at Santa Anita racing.

SUNSET STATION — Jockey Corey Nakatani was the special guest at a VIP horseplayer dinner party Tuesday hosted by new Sunset Station race and sports book director Jamie Shea. Nakatani said he and his agent, Brad Pegram, are laying the groundwork for Oak Tree and obtaining some live Breeders’ Cup mounts.

ORLEANS — The Fall Championship at The Orleans handicapping tournament will be Thursday to Oct. 3. Entries, which cost $500, are being accepted.

Richard Eng’s column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at

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