By Barbara D. Livingston
King's Swan, a gelding so popular he was honored with a retirement ceremony at Aqueduct, died Feb. 7 at Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in New Jersey.
King's Swan gained countless fans during a nine-year campaign in which he won 31 of 107 starts - including the Vosburgh (gr. I) - and earned $1,924,845. He won 12 stakes and placed in 21 others, including the Metropolitan Mile (gr. I) and Whitney (gr. I) Handicaps.
Bred in Kentucky by Dion Kerr, King's Swan was a son of King's Bishop out of the Sea-Bird mare Royal Cygnet.
Richard Dutrow claimed King's Swan Dec. 15, 1985, for a partnership that included himself, Al Akman, and Herb Kushner. King's Swan quickly blossomed under Dutrow. Among his stakes wins were the Vosburgh, Bold Ruler and Tom Fool Stakes (both gr. II), and six grade III events: the Aqueduct, Stymie, Boojum, the Assault (twice), and the Westchester.
King's Swan won the Grey Lag under 130 pounds, and he set a track record at Aqueduct in 1987, running 8 1/2 furlongs in 1:41 4/5. His final start came in the Gallant Fox (gr. III) at Aqueduct Dec. 8, 1990.
King's Swan earned the nickname "The King of Aqueduct." On Dec. 22, 1990, the New York Racing Association held a retirement ceremony in his honor.
Upon retirement, King's Swan was given to his longtime exercise rider Jean Lazio.
In early December 2005, King's Swan suffered a shattered ulna bone in his right front leg. He was placed in a sling at his Montgomery, N.Y., home, which he readily accepted. When the injury was recently aggravated King's Swan was shipped to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Center, where he was euthanized.
"King was a great horse on and off the track," said Lazio. "I was honored to be able to spend the last 19 years of my life with him. He was a champion in every sense of the word."