Sunny's Halo to Be Re-interred at Churchill Downs

From the Texas Thoroughbred Breeders
Sunny's Halo will be re-interred at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs, where he raced to his greatest triumph in the 1983 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

Texas' all-time leading sire by progeny earnings, Sunny's Halo stood his final years of stud duty at Tom and Marcia Slack's Double S Thoroughbred Farms in Bullard, Texas, and was euthanized on June 3, 2003, following a stroke. He was buried under a headstone erected by Billy Hanna, Sunny's Halo's majority owner, at Double S.

Earlier this spring, the 70 acres of land at Double S, including Sunny's Halo's burial site, were sold to real estate developers. When Rita Nugent, a concerned horse lover from Edom, Texas, learned of this, she contacted David Hooper, the executive director of the Texas Thoroughbred Association. With Hanna's blessing, Hooper began working with curator Jay Ferguson and others at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville to ensure Sunny's Halo would have a final resting place in proximity to the Churchill Downs finish line.

"An animal like that deserves it," said Nugent, who owns racing and reining Quarter Horses. "All I did was make someone aware of the situation. In one day's time, they accomplished so much. I have great admiration and respect for horses, and it does my heart such good to know that so many people cared."

On June 20, Sunny's Halo was exhumed by Double S manager Pete Sackett. Live Oak Pet Services of Anderson, Texas, is handling cremation of the Derby winner's remains before sending the urn, along with the headstone, to the Kentucky Derby Museum. The cost of the exhumation, cremation, and shipping has been underwritten in part by the Derby Museum, Hanna, and the relatives of the late David Foster, who owned the Canadian-bred horse at the time of his Derby victory.

A developer for the Double S property has stated that the main street in the forthcoming residential neighborhood will be named Sunny's Halo Way.

"Having been awestruck by the striking chestnut color and physical stature of Sunny's Halo when I first saw him in his stall before the Kentucky Derby, I became an immediate fan and rooted him to victory," said Hooper. "Now I feel privileged to have played a role in relocating Sunny's Halo to his final resting place at the Kentucky Derby Museum."

Three years after his death, Sunny's Halo continues to lead all stallions in Texas by progeny earnings. His leading earner in 2006 is the 5-year-old Texas-bred Charming Socialite, who is a homebred for Paul Sutton and Bill Pettit of Weatherford, Texas. Charming Socialite has won six stakes and earned $345,110. Sunny's Halo, a 2-year-old champion in Canada, won nine of 20 career starts and earned $1,247,791. To date, horses sired by Sunny's Halo have earned $28.6 million.

Sunny's Halo will be the fourth Derby winner to be interred at the Derby Museum. Re-interment plans are not yet finalized but should coincide with a ceremony at the Museum before the end of the Churchill Downs meet on July 16. Also interred at the Museum are Derby winners Brokers Tip (1933), Swaps (1955), and Carry Back (1961).

The Kentucky Derby Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding public awareness, appreciation, and understanding of the evolution and meaning of the Kentucky Derby. For additional information pertaining to the Kentucky Derby Museum please visit www.derbymuseum.org.

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