Derby Runner-Up Strodes Creek Dead

Derby Runner-Up Strodes Creek Dead
Photo: Rick Samuels
Strodes Creek finished 2nd in the 1994 Kentucky Derby.

Strokes Creek, who placed in both the 1994 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I), was euthanized after breaking a leg in a paddock accident in South Korea. The 17-year-old son of Halo had begun his stallion career at Arthur B. Hancock III’s Stone Farm near Paris, Ky.

Bred in Kentucky by Hancock, Strodes Creek raced at Churchill Downs the first Saturday in May for Hancock, trainer Charlie Whittingham, and Robert and Janice McNair. The McNairs bought an interest in Strodes Creek the night before the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). Strodes Creek finished third in the big Santa Anita race in what was his fourth lifetime start and then ran second in the Run for the Roses, beaten two lengths by Go for Gin.

“Charlie thought he should have won the Kentucky Derby,” Hancock said recently from his farm. “He got turned sideways on the first turn. He was closing, but that kind of knocked him out of it.”

Hancock and Whittingham had achieved success in the Kentucky Derby just five years earlier with another son of Halo. Sunday Silence, whom the two men raced with Dr. Ernest Gaillard, beat favorite Easy Goer in a memorable renewel. Hancock stood Halo at his farm and bred him to the graded stakes-winning Topsider mare Bottle Top in 1990.

“Bottle Top was a medium-size mare and half-tough and mean,” Hancock said. “I bred her to Halo because I liked the cross, but then started thinking, ‘If I do this, I’ll probably get a mean little runt.’ But Strodes Creek was a gentle giant, the nicest, kindest horse. The big thing is that he turned out to be a good horse.”

Strodes Creek skipped the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), won by Tabasco Cat, then went off favored over Go for Gin in the Belmont Stakes. He finished third behind Tabasco Cat and Go for Gin.

Following the Belmont, Strodes Creek underwent successful surgery for an undescended testicle, and then developed a splint problem. In his first race back, he won his initial stakes, the J.O. Tobin Stakes at Hollywood Park, that December. As a 4-year-old in 1995, he ran fourth in both the Strub (gr. I) and San Fernando (gr. II) Stakes before a recurring hock injury ended his racing career. He was officially retired that summer with a record of three wins and four placings from nine starts and earnings of $430,006. He entered stud at Stone in 1996.

Strodes Creek stood at Stone through 2000, after which he was sent to Japan. He later was relocated to South Korea. He sired six stakes winners and 13 stakes-placed runners, including multiple Slovakian champion Mona Say and two-time U.S. stakes winner Doc D. 

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