Sunny's Halo, the 1983 Kentucky Derby winner, was euthanized Tuesday at Double S Thoroughbred Farm in Tyler, Texas due to the infirmities of age. He was 23.
The was found lying down in his paddock by longtime handler Dwayne ``Pete'' Sackett, who suspected that the horse had lost all strength in his hind legs.
After efforts to help him stand up proved futile, he was euthanized.
``He was such a tremendous horse, and we did not want him to suffer,'' said Billy Hanna of Houston, majority partner in the group that originally brought the stallion to Texas in 1998.
Bred and raced by David J. Foster, Sunny's Halo was named Canada's champion 2-year-colt in 1982 after winning four stakes at Woodbine. The following year he came to the United States and won the Arkansas Derby and Rebel Handicap.
Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye rode Sunny's Halo to a two-length victory in the 1983 Kentucky Derby, making him and 1964 champion Northern Dancer the only Canadian-breds to win the race.
Sunny's Halo was retired at the end of his 3-year-old season with a record of 20-9-3-2 and $1,247,791 in earnings.
Trained by David Cross, Sunny's Halo proved to be a successful stallion. He sired 36 stakes winners, including Dispersal, Sunny Sunrise, Irgun and Beautiful Sensation. His progeny had lifetime career earnings of more than $26 million.
Sunny's Halo was buried at Double S Thoroughbreds.
Last year, trainer Cross sold his winning Kentucky Derby trophy on the online auction service eBay for $8,928.56.
"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't (emotional)," Cross said at the time, adding that he had trouble finding work in recent years. "I was going to give it to my son, and he didn't want it. I don't have my farm in Kentucky anymore, so I didn't really have anywhere to keep it and I didn't want to carry it around. I never got much enjoyment out of it anyway. It was lost for three years. Nobody knew where it was, but I finally found it. And there were financial reasons," he continued. "I haven't done much of anything in three years. My fiancée has been sick, and the doctor bills are piling up."