Leading Sire Raja Baba Euthanized at 34

Leading Sire Raja Baba Euthanized at 34
Photo: Barbara D. Livingston
Raja Baba, has died at age 34.
Raja Baba, who sired two Breeders' Cup winners and topped both the general and 2-year-old sire lists, was euthanized Oct. 9 at Carl Pollard's Hermitage Farm near Goshen, Ky., because of complications from the infirmities of old age. The 34-year-old pensioned son of Bold Ruler had been at the farm ever since he entered stud.

"He was ready to go," said Hermitage manager Bill Landes. "Time had passed him by."

Raja Baba was both North America's leading general sire and 2-year-old sire by progeny earnings in 1980 and the top overall juvenile leader by progeny earnings as a freshman stallion in 1976. His top runner of 1976, Royal Ski, won five stakes that year, including the Laurel Futurity (gr. I) and Remsen (gr. II) and Heritage (gr. III) Stakes. Like all 2-year-olds that year, Royal Ski suffered the misfortune of being in the same crop as Seattle Slew, but still was the co-second-highest-weighted runner on the Experimental Free Handicap.

Raja Baba's first Breeders' Cup winner, Sacahuista, took the 1987 Distaff (gr. I) and was that year's champion 3-year-old filly. Sacahuista won two other grade I races during her career and earned a career total of $1,298,842. Raja Baba's other Breeders' Cup winner, Is It True, pulled off one of the top upsets in the history of the championship events by defeating heavy favorite Easy Goer in the 1988 Juvenile (gr. I).

Raja Baba is represented by 62 stakes winners, including 23 group or graded winners, and his daughters have produced 76 added-money winners. His other stakes winners as a stallion include Canadian champion Summer Mood, grade I winners Well Decorated, Ride Sally, and Small Raja, and English group I winner Junius. His sire line lives on in an important way through Is It True and Well Decorated.

Produced from the My Babu mare Missy Baba, Raja Baba raced for his breeder, Michael Phipps, before William S. Farish bought him in the fall of 1972. Raja Baba was syndicated and began stallion duty at Hermitage, then owned by Warner Jones Jr., in 1973. His initial stud fee was $2,500, but later in his career, a share reportedly was sold for $380,000.

A full or half-brother to five stakes winners, Raja Baba won seven of 41 races, including three stakes, and earned $123,287.

He was buried at the farm.

Click here to read an excerpt about Raja Baba from Barbara D. Livingston's Old Friends.

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