Major winner and successful sire Lost Code died of a heart attack right before he was scheduled to cover his first mare at Legacy Farm near Bluemont, Va., on Saturday. An autopsy revealed a ruptured aorta. Lost Code, who previously stood at Vinery near Lexington, was moved to Legacy in the fall and was owned by a syndicate. His fee was $7,500.
"He was getting ready to cover his first mare and got a little excited," said Mark Deane, who managed Lost Code. "Then he died right before my eyes. It was unbelievable what happened. Just unbelievable.
"He was such an important horse for Virginia because he showed we could get a good stallion. We had 40 mares booked to him, and they were coming from Louisiana, Illinois, New Jersey, Canada, and Kentucky."
Bred in Florida by Mareinvest 83 Ltd., Lost Code won 15 races and earned $2,085,396 for Donald Levinson's Wendover Stable. Trainer L. William Donovan had bought Lost Code as a 2-year-old privately for Levinson for $30,000.
Lost Code (Codex -- Loss Or Gain, Ack Ack) developed a loyal following by winning seven consecutive stakes his 3-year-old season in 1987. He captured in succession the Hoop, Jr. Stakes (in track-record time), Alabama Derby, Thomas D. Nash Memorial Handicap, Illinois Derby (gr. III), Ohio Derby (gr. II), St. Paul Derby (gr. III), and Arlington Classic (gr. I) before finishing third in the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) to the year's two classic winners, Bet Twice and Alysheba.
As a 4-year-old, Lost Code defeated Cryptoclearance and Gulch in winning the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. I), and also won the Michigan Mile and One-Eighth (gr. II), Massachusetts (gr. II), Razorback (gr. II), and National Jockey Club (gr. III) Handicaps. He also ran second to Bet Twice in the Pimlico Special Handicap. Overall, Lost Code won or placed in 22 of 27 races.
Lost Code entered stud in 1989 at Dearborn/Vinery Stallions near Midway, Ky., starting out with a $15,000 fee. He hit the $1.8-million mark when his first runners were 3-year-olds (in 1993), and has surpassed $2.4 million every year since. In four of those years, he topped the $3.1 million figure. His 45 stakes winners include Canadian champion mare Magic Code; grade II winners Tricky Code and Jacody; plus $745,167-earner Morris Code.