Aloma's Ruler, who held the mantle of oldest living Preakness winner for 12 days, died June 21 at a farm in Illinois. He was 24.
When Spectacular Bid, winner of the 1979 Preakness, died June 9 in New York, Aloma's Ruler became the oldest living winner of the second jewel of racing's Triple Crown. Aloma's Ruler captured the Preakness (gr. I) in 1982, defeating the heavy favorite Linkage by a half length.
Aloma's Ruler and Linkage provided Maryland a one-two finish in its premier race. Both horses were stabled in Maryland. John J. "Butch" Lenzini Jr. trained Aloma's Ruler, and the Maryland builder Nathan "Red" Scherr owned him. A 16-year-old jockey, "Cowboy Jack" Kaenel, rode the colt to victory in the Preakness.
Lenzini picked out Aloma's Ruler, a Florida-bred, and Scherr bought him for $92,000 at the Hialeah sale of 2-year-olds. A son of Iron Ruler and the Native Charger mare Aloma, Aloma's Ruler won seven of 13 races and earned $498,883. He won five stakes: the Nutley at the Meadowlands, the Bahamas at Hialeah, the Jersey Derby at Atlantic City, the Withers (gr. II) at Aqueduct, and the Preakness.
Three and a half months after his Preakness victory at odds of 6-1, Aloma's Ruler ran his last race, finishing second in the Travers (gr. I) to Runaway Groom. Aloma's Ruler was retired because of ankle problems.
An undistinguished stud career included stints in Kentucky, Maryland and Illinois. Aloma's Ruler stood at Shamrock Farms in Woodbine, Maryland, from 1989 to 1996.
"The horse was a shy breeder," said Jim Steele, manager at Shamrock. "He would come out, and a hot mare would be standing right in front of him, and he'd look out the window and want to eat hay. He was just a different kind of horse. He took a lot of work. People backed off him after a while."
From Maryland, Aloma's Ruler went to Le Roy Bormet's B&B Farm in Illinois, about 50 miles south of Chicago. Bormet said he obtained Aloma's Ruler through an agent in Virginia who knew he was looking for a stallion.
Recalled Bormet: "He said, 'I can probably get you a Preakness winner.' I told him, 'Well, there's not any of them in Illinois. I might as well try it.' "
Scherr, who owned the horse since he was 2, retained ownership, Bormet said. Scherr is 80 and resides in a nursing home in Maryland.
The agreement was Bormet would take care of the horse in return for any stud fees he was able to collect, he said. Bormet said that he bred Aloma's Ruler to a few mares, but that interest quickly waned in the old classic winner.
"He was always a proud horse," Bormet said. "He'd dance when you took him out, and he'd dance when you brought him in. It wasn't that he was tough or anything. He just felt good and acted proud."
According to Bormet, he pensioned Aloma's Ruler this spring and turned him over to a friend, Gary Clark, because Clark had a larger field in which the horse could live. On July 14, Bormet said Clark called him two days earlier to tell him that Aloma's Ruler had died June 21. Bormet said Clark told him he found the horse dead in a field and buried him at his farm.
Clark's farm is about 50 miles north of Chicago, Bormet said. He said that he didn't know the cause of death, but that he presumed it was heart failure or something related to old age. Clark could not be reached for comment.
The death of Aloma's Ruler leaves Deputed Testamony as the oldest living Preakness winner. Born, raised and standing at stud at Bonita Farm in Maryland, Deputed Testamony won the Preakness for the Boniface family in 1983. The grand-looking horse is 23.