(from Emerald Downs release)
Two-time grade I winner Saratoga Passage, the all-time leading Washington-bred money-earner, has died from colic, co-owner Helen Beck said.
Saratoga Passage, who was 23 when he died July 5, earned $818,212 in a 47-race career that included grade I victories on dirt and turf.
Mel and Helen Beck bred and co-owned Saratoga Passage with Saratoga I Stable, composed of several of their Whidbey Island friends. The horse was born and died at the couple’s Crescent Harbor Farm in Oak Harbor. Beck said the chestnut gelding also would be buried at the farm.
Saratoga Passage (by Pirateer-Loridown) burst onto the scene in 1987 with a victory in the grade I Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita. Trainer Robert Leonard and jockey Joe Steiner believed they had a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) candidate. However, a respiratory infection derailed those hopes in early 1988, and Saratoga Passage raced only once as a 3-year-old.
Transferred to trainer Bobby Frankel in Southern California, Saratoga Passage would enjoy much success as an older horse, capped by a win in the grade I Eddie Read Handicap on turf at Del Mar in 1989.
Saratoga Passage, voted Washington Horse of the Year in 1987 and 1989, finished his career with 21 wins, seven seconds, and seven thirds in 47 starts.
“He was a big horse with a big heart,” Helen Beck said. “He had a lot of guts.”
After his racing career ended in 1990, Saratoga Passage spent several years as a dressage horse before retiring to the Becks' farm in 2005.