Just a few miles from Emerald Downs, Starbird Road, one of the track’s best all-time Washington-bred runners, is active and thriving at age 12.
As a racehorse, Starbird Road compiled a dazzling record for trainers Larry and Sharon Ross and owner Rick Beal, who had “Starman” since his third career start. Sharon Ross said she remembers her first impressions of a once 2-year-old Starbird Road well.
“He was a pretty special horse,” she said. “Right off the bat, we knew he had talent.”
Out of blue-hen mare Mia F Eighteen, Starbird Road raced exclusively at Emerald Downs where he won 12 career races including four stakes races. His 2006 campaign is considered by many as one of the top seasons of any Thoroughbred sprinter in track history. At 5-years-old, Starbird Road and jockey Debbie Hoonan rattled off five wins including three powerful sprint stakes victories en route to the meet’s Top Washington-Bred and Top Sprinter honors. Two of those wins came in track record time including a 6-furlong score in 1:07 2/5, which stood for three years, and a 5-furlong record in 55 2/5 that he still shares today.
Incidentally, Starbird Road had never competed around two turns until the final three races of his career, but proving his versatility, the son of Count the Time had little trouble with the added distance. He retired in September 2010 with a two-race winning streak at one mile and 1-1/16 miles, respectively.
Since his retirement, Starbird Road has kept busy. Katie Merwick of Second Chance Ranch worked hard to find the perfect home for the all-star gelding, and she found that with horse-lover Karyn O'Brien, who boards him at Frankie Timmerman's Rah-Sadj farm in Hobart.
“Frankie has a great facility with lots of turnout, so he gets to be out in the pasture quite a bit,” Merwick said. “Starbird Road had so much training on him at the track that he came in with a lot of talent, so she’s using him as a lesson horse for some of her more experienced riders.”
Sharon Ross isn't surprised to see Starbird Road’s need for an active lifestyle.
“He was a horse that wanted to do something,” she said. “He’s sound and has talent. He didn’t want to be a pasture pet, so he’s being ridden and he looks good.”