FARMINGTON — Miracle Snow went into the starting gate 62 times in his remarkable career, winning 17 times and finishing in the money on 23 other occasions, but after nearly nine thrilling years of racing the quarter horse won't be entering the starting gates anymore.
Miracle Snow gave owner Melvin Neuegbauer numerous memories, but Neuegbauer recalls the first stakes win for the New Mexico-bred quarter horse, the 2007 Hard Twist Stakes at the Downs at Albuquerque as one of the finest.
"He beat Gun Battle that day," Neugebauer said. "And (Gun Battle) had just run second in the All-American (Futurity) last year."
Neugebauer simply couldn't ask any more from Miracle Snow, who provided both racing fans and his connections with a collection of memories as well as wins. The 11-year-old son of Dean Miracle ends his career after finishing third in his most recent start, an allowance race last weekend at Sunray Park and Casino -- the same track where he began his racing career.
"He made all his money the hard way -- not in a Futurity or a Derby," Neugebauer said. "He ran every race giving us his all."
The official scorecard will read that Miracle Snow won eight stakes races, and won at least one race on every track in the state while amassing earnings approaching $735,000, nearly all of which came under the care of trainer Wes Giles.
"Wes and his family have done such a good job keeping him sound and showing so much care for him all these years," Neugebauer said. "It's why he will be staying with the family in his retirement. He (Giles) and Jill (Giles' wife) have decided to keep him as a pony horse."
Miracle Snow's remarkable string of victories include three Lineage Championship tallies at Albuquerque, his most recent score coming in last summer's renewal of the race.
"Looking back at his career, everyone who has crossed his path has helped get him where he is today," Neugebauer said.
No good racehorse could do what Miracle Snow did on its own, and Neugebauer, currently residing in Manzanola, Colo., was emphatic to recall some of the most important people in the horse's illustrious career.
"He got turned out every year from December to March and would stay in El Paso, Texas, with a longtime horsewoman in Loretta Heilsher," Neugebauer said. "He loved his vacation time and I think that helped him have such a long career."
When Miracle Snow made his career debut, Aug. 4, 2006, at Sunray, he ran ninth in a 10-horse maiden dash of 350 yards. He came back to break his maiden 52 days later at Zia Park and Casino in Hobbs. Ridden by one his most reliable pilots, Tony Guymon, Miracle Snow earned his first win at odds of 70-to-1.
Needless to say, you'd never be able to get those kinds of odds on him ever again.
Some of Miracle Snow's finest achievements occurred at Sunray, where he won last year's Tommy "Duke" Smith Stakes under Martin Bourdieu for his fourth win over the local course.
Miracle Snow danced all the dances. He ran in 36 stakes races, being sent off as the post-time favorite in ten times and finished no worse than third in 27 of his 36 stakes races.
This is a cruel business from time to time. Whether you're a veteran horseman for half a century or a new kid to the business, you have to learn very quickly to take your good days and bad days in stride while savoring the victories.
Miracle Snow had a fan base that showed up to see him race, and as paddock show host at Sunray Park for the last nine years, I've had the pleasure of seeing every one of his races at the local facility.
Thanks for the memories, old timer. You will be missed.
Steve Bortstein hosts "First Sports" and "The Fast Track" on Fox Sports 1340 AM and 93.9 FM and on iHeartRadio. He serves as paddock show host at SunRay Park & Casino and is a voting member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Follow him @fox1340am on Twitter.