Play Fellow, who won more grade I stakes at 3 than any member of his foal crop, was euthanized Dec. 17 at Nuckols Farm near Midway, Ky., because of the infirmities of old age. The 28-year-old son of On the Sly stood his entire career at Nuckols before being pensioned.
Play Fellow started his grade I-winning extravaganza in 1983 in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, after which came scores at Arlington Park in the Arlington Classic and American Derby, then the Travers Stakes over subsequent champion Slew o’ Gold at Saratoga. The last three came in succession.
After the 1 1/4-mile Travers, which he won in the good time of 2:01 flat, Play Fellow ran second to that year’s Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Sunny’s Halo in the Super Derby (gr. I). Earlier that year, he ran sixth in the Run for the Roses and fifth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
On that year’s Daily Racing Form Free Handicap for 3-year-old males, Play Fellow was weighted at 124 pounds, three pounds below Slew o’ Gold. Sunny’s Halo was weighted at 126 pounds, and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Caveat was at 125 pounds.
At 4, Play Fellow won the Donn (gr. II) and Laurance Armour (gr. III) Handicaps. He was retired with nine wins and seven placings from 22 starts and earnings of $711,253. He raced for Carl Lauer, Robert Victor, and Nancy Vanier, whose husband, Harvey Vanier, trained him.
Play Fellow sired a solid 79% starters and 58% winners from his 293 foals. Fourteen of his runners were stakes horses, including 1989 Blue Grass Stakes winner Western Playboy, who earned $1.1 million racing for Nancy Vanier in partnership.
Play Fellow was bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Bakewell III and produced from the Run For Nurse mare Play for Keeps.