Golden Arrow continued to reward the Sienkewiczes last year. On July 12 he won the second half of a sort of geriatric daily double at Narrangansett. The first race was won by a 13-year-old gelding named Crying For More. Golden Arrow never finished out of the money in 1978. He even outlasted the racetrack he'd raced over for so many years. Narragansett Park, which held its inaugural meeting on Aug. 1, 1934, folded on Labor Day 1978, just two days before Golden Arrow was scheduled to race there again. Bill and Phreddy took the horse to the Massachusetts fair circuit. For his last race of the year, they entered him at Great Barrington on Sept. 25, Bill's 25th birthday. He won, of course.
Golden Arrow spent most of last winter in the barn at Land's End, being turned out a couple of hours each day, taking it easy. Came the spring and he went back to the beach. He has raced just once this year, at the Great Barrington Fair on July 22, and he finished a disappointing fifth in a field of eight $1,500 claimers. "It was really hot that day," says Bill, "and he hates the heat. At the start of the race he was second by six lengths or so to a 6-year-old named Film Critic. He chased him for a while, but he had really hooked a bear. Then Arrow stumbled at the top of the stretch, but he still beat three other horses."
"He really gets mad when he loses a race," says Phreddy. "He sulks for a week and he gets bad-tempered and mean."
In his 16 years of racing, Golden Arrow has won at 12 different racetracks (not including those on the fair circuit). His lifetime statistics show 176 starts, 58 wins, 22 seconds and 24 thirds for earnings of $167,304. He may be 18, but his chestnut coat gleams with good health and there is a youthful spring in his step. There are signs of age, of course. He is literally long in the tooth and his back has fallen a bit, which is only to be expected.
But he has not yet shot his bolt. In September he is going back to the races at the Northampton, Mass. fair. "I almost wish he'd finish dead last," Bill says, "so we wouldn't have to race him again. Or finish first, so we know he's O.K. All I care about is having him come back O.K."
Golden Arrow stands in his stall and keeps his own counsel. He'll let his young trainer know when and if he's ready to retire. Meanwhile, there's the next race...and the one after that.