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14YO Soapy Sap nearing retirement

December 13, 2017

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For more than a decade, Don Maiorano has counted on Soapy Sap.
Now, as Maiorano counts down the days to the 14-year-old mare trotter's retirement at the end of the year, he is especially grateful for their time together.
"We've lasted longer than most marriages," Maiorano said, laughing. "I know it's a business, but you get attached. There were many times when she bailed me out. She's part of the family, really. She will be missed, for sure."

Maiorano bought Soapy Sap at age 3 in October 2006. For her career, she has won 39 of 318 races and earned $529,565 in purses. All but 20 of her starts and one of her victories came with Maiorano, who in addition to owning the mare is her trainer.

Soapy Sap never won six figures in any year, but she was dependable and durable despite diminutive size. Over the past 25 years, no female trotter has started more races at the Meadowlands, where she raced 106 times in her career. She won 13 races at the Big M, including legs of the Singer Memorial and Super Bowl series, and finished among the top three a total of 40 times.

Overall, she hit the board 144 times and earned a paycheck in 218 races.

"She's the definition of a professional," Maiorano said. "I was offered money for her, but I turned it down. I'm not a guy with a lot of money, but I enjoy this and it's a lot more fun when you have a nice horse. It was fun racing at the Meadowlands against those big horses in those series and winning a couple races. It was just a good feeling."

Maiorano, who has a two-horse stable, is based at Johnson Park in Piscataway, N.J., on the banks of the Raritan River. Although the park is surrounded by busy roads, with the city of New Brunswick across the river and Rutgers University campuses also nearby, it is a quiet location. The park, with a half-mile track, was once a bustling part of the state's racing scene, but is now home to only a handful of horses.

"I've been down here since the '70s," said Maiorano, who in addition to training horses has owned a taxicab and worked in construction. "She's been stabled at some other places, but she can get a little hot with a lot of other horses around and grab on.

"Over here, she's nice and relaxed. When she's ready to jog she'll start jogging herself. After about 20 or 25 minutes she'll know she's had enough. At this age, I let her basically do what she wants to do to stay happy. She's happy here. She watches the people in the park; out her back window she watches the deer. I don't know if she would have lasted this long if she was somewhere else."

Soapy Sap is one of 64 horses to race this year at age 14. Harness racing's mandatory retirement age is 15, with all horses celebrating their birthdays on Jan. 1. Maiorano expects Soapy Sap to make two more starts before the end of the year, with the first being Friday at Freehold Raceway.

When her career on the track comes to an end, Maiorano would like to see her begin a new career as a broodmare. Soapy Sap, who has a mark of 1:53.4 set at the Meadowlands as a 7-year-old, is a daughter of Yankee Glide out of Alphabet Love.

"She has a great attitude," Maiorano said. "A lot of people told me she was a real fun horse to watch. She's so little and would sit in the pack and if she was within three lengths of the leader at the three-quarter pole she was usually right there with them at the end. She just dug in and gave you her best.

"That's why I would love to see a foal out of her. I know she's not real big and she stands a little crooked up front, but she goes."

Maiorano would like to breed Soapy Sap himself, but has received calls from several people interested in buying the mare.

"I'm going to try my best to do something myself because I would love to have a foal from her, but that's a dream pretty much because I'm not sure I could afford to do it," Maiorano said. "The most important thing is I want to give her a good home. She deserves a good home."

Maiorano is thankful for the assistance he received over the years with Soapy Sap, from the drivers to the veterinarians and farriers.

"I've had a good team behind me and they helped make this all possible," Maiorano said. "Her legs are still like a 2 year old. She doesn't act her age. On the racetrack she still wants to go."
When Soapy Sap retires, Maiorano will turn his full attention to his remaining horse, 6-year-old trotter Latoka, and try to find another horse to fill Soapy Sap's shoes.

"I've always been a small guy; I've pretty much always owned and raced everything myself," Maiorano said. "It's very hard, especially nowadays, to replace a horse. And to get something like her, I'll probably never have another one. Hopefully I can replace her, but she's going to be hard to replace. I'm just happy to have had one like her for all this time." (HRC)

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