Mike Keogh Retiring – will winter in Aiken
Mike Keogh, inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame this year, saddled his last horse Oct. 8 at Woodbine, sending out Wedgewood to finish sixth in the Nearctic Stakes (G2T). The 65-year-old is the last trainer to have had a Canadian Triple Crown winner, Gustav Schickedanz’s brilliant colt Wando in 2003.
But when Schickedanz, also a member of the Hall of Fame, passed away early in 2019, his breeding stock was dispersed, and Keogh has been training the few remaining runners. All of the Schickedanz racehorses have since been retired to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in Hillsburgh, Ontario, where Wedgewood, a 7-year-old son of champion Langfuhr, is soon headed. Keogh, who has been fighting cancer since 2019, has decided to retire rather than continue as a public trainer.
“I just don’t have the energy anymore,” said Keogh, who was born in Epsom, England, home of the prestigious Epsom Derby. “After all the radiation and chemotherapy, it takes a lot out of you.”
Keogh is looking forward to traveling with his wife, Lou. “We have rented a cottage in Aiken, South Carolina, this winter, and I want to travel and see more of Canada.”
Keogh grew up around horses in England and his father, Norman, was an accomplished horseman. The younger Keogh became a jockey, but as he became too tall to ride flat races, he gravitated to jump racing before moving to Canada in 1977. The soft-spoken Keogh fell in love with Woodbine and, with the help of trainer Jerry Meyer, received his landed status, enabling him to work in his new country.
Keogh worked as an assistant to Meyer, John Tammaro, and Roger Attfield, the latter who trained the powerful stars owned by Donald and David Willmot’s Kinghaven Farms. Keogh worked for Attfield for seven years, exercising and traveling with a long list of champions such as Alywow, Peteski, Carotene, Izvestia, With Approval, and his favorite horse, Play the King, who was also inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame this year.
In 1993 Keogh received an offer from Schickedanz to become his private trainer, the start of what would be an illustrious career.
Keogh, whose first starter, Clever Detector, was a winner, took the beautifully bred Schickedanz horses and molded them into champions. In 1996, Keogh trained Langfuhr, a son of Danzig, who won three grade 1 races in the U.S. and was named that year’s Canadian Champion Sprinter. Three years later, Keogh won his first Queen’s Plate with Woodcarver, a son of Woodman.
Along came Langfuhr’s son Wando, a foal of 2000, who tore through the Triple Crown, taking the Plate by nine lengths, the Prince of Wales by four lengths, and then overcoming trouble to take the Breeders’ Stakes by just over a length. The Keogh-trained Mobil, second to Wando in the Plate, was another son of Langfuhr who would go on to be a champion.
Keogh won 60 stakes, including graded stakes winners Last Answer, Clever Response, City Boy, Go Bro, and Firm Dancer. He retires from training with 341 winners from 2,794 starters, and his horses collected more than $22 million in purses.