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Oct 12, 2012

Up the Backstretch: Classy mare heads into retirement

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

(Sports Network) - Word came out of Maryland Thursday that multiple stakes- winning mare Aruna has been retired from racing. The 5-year-old ran her last race at Keeneland on Sunday in the Spinster Stakes.

It was appropriate that the Spinster was Aruna's final start. She won the race last year as the 2-1 favorite, leading to her only start in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

"I am fortunate to have witnessed this classy mare's career. Her performances were memorable to experience firsthand - first her training and racing at last year's Breeders' Cup, and then again in her start in the Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland's spring meet," wrote Sue Kenny on trainer Graham Motion's website.

Owned by Flaxman Holdings, Aruna had 18 starts in her racing career with victories in seven, falling just short of becoming a millionaire. After her sixth-place finish in this year's Spinster she closed her bank account with $994,879.

She wasn't able to duplicate last year's half-length win in the Spinster as she fell 6 3/4 lengths behind winner In Lingerie, who happened to have the same odds as Aruna's in the 2011 edition. Last week, Aruna was the 5-2 second choice in the 10-horse field.

"She came back fine and didn't have any excuses," said Heather Craig, Motion's assistant, following the Spinster.

Aruna began her career in Europe, notching her first win in her third start in France.

As a 3-year-old, she won her first start in the United States in an allowance race at Saratoga over the Labor Day weekend in 2010. Aruna followed with a victory in the Pebbles Stakes at Belmont Park and did it again at Churchill Downs in the Mrs. Revere Stakes. That was four wins in eight starts, all on the turf.

She was given a vacation until May 2011 when, as a 4-year-old, she finished second to Aviate in Churchill's Distaff Turf Mile at 9-2 just 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

Aruna was put on a van and began to travel to some of the best stakes, primarily on turf. She won the All Along Stakes at Colonial Downs followed by a second in the Diana at Saratoga.

Again given some time off, the filly won the Spinster on Keeneland's synthetic main track before heading back to Churchill Downs and the Breeders' Cup World Championships.

Sent off at 7-1 in the Filly and Mare Turf, Aruna was full of run as she made a late surge in the 1 3/8-mile race. However, she finished in fifth just a length behind Perfect Shirl.

This year, Aruna had five starts with just one win in the Sheepshead Bay at Belmont Park. In the $750,000 Beverly D at Arlington Park, the mare was the 3-1 favorite, but stumbled at the start to finish last in the 10-horse field.

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