Champion Winning Colors, winner of the 1988 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), was euthanized Feb. 17 following complications from colic at Hagyard Davidson McGee vet clinic near Lexington. The 23-year-old Caro mare, who was in foal to Mr. Greeleyat the time of her death, was buried at Greentree Farm, a division of Gainesway Farm near Lexington.
"Winning Colors was always a champion," said Gainesway president Antony Beck. "She had great physical prowess and athleticism. She was one of my fathers' (Graham Beck) favorite horses, and everyone at Gainesway is saddened by her passing."
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Winning Colors, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2000, was owned by the late Eugene Klein. She was bred in Kentucky by Echo Valley Horse Farm.
Lukas purchased Winning Colors as a yearling for $575,000 at the 1986 Keeneland July sale. She would finish her career with earnings of $1,526,837 and a record of 8-3-1 from 19 starts.
Besides being the last and one of only three fillies to win the Derby, Winning Colors' other grade I victories include the Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Oaks. She also finished third in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and was second to undefeated champion and Hall of Fame member Personal Ensign in the highly memorable 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I).
Winning Colors hailed from a strong female family. She is out of the stakes-winning and grade I-placed Bold Hour mare All Rainbows, who produced two other stakes-placed runners and is the granddam of Japanese group I winner Tap Dance City.
All Rainbows' dam, the stakes-winning T. V. Lark mare Miss Carmie, also produced champion filly Chris Evert, who in turn is the granddam of champion Chief's Crown and grade I winner Classic Crown.
Other grade/group I winners found in Winning Colors' pedigree include Sightseek, Tates Creek, Etoile Montante, Confessional, Excellent Art, Missed the Storm, Faaz, Lambent Light, and Zaitoon.
Klein sold Winning Colors for $4.1 million to Gainesway Bloodstock Services at the 1989 Keeneland November mixed sale. Alone or in partnership, Gainesway Farm bred all 10 of her foals.
Like many champion racemares, Winning Colors was never able to reproduce herself. Her best offspring to date is Golden Colors, a filly by Mr. Prospector who was group III-placed in Japan. Golden Colors went on to produce Cheerful Smile, a group III winner by Sunday Silence.
Her last foal is a yearling filly by Mr. Greeley. Her juvenile Orientate filly is now in training with Ron Stevens in Aiken, S.C.