Thrice Worthy, who holds the modern day steeplechase record by number of consecutive wins, has been euthanized at owner Sally Nims’ Dogwood Springs Farm near Versailles, Ky., because of colic complications. The gelded son of Twice Worthy was 32 and had been owned by Nims the last 23 years.
Thrice Worthy had run his first three years on the flat before becoming a jumper in 1981 for new owner William S. Farish. The switch proved dramatic. Transferred to trainer Jonathan Sheppard, Thrice Worthy won his first nine races for Farish, owner of Lane’s End Farm near Versailles. The total ranks as a modern day record for steeplechase runners.
Several of those wins during the streak came by huge margins. Thrice Worthy twice won races by 35 lengths, including the 1982 Pillar Steeplechase Stakes in Lexington. In 1981, he captured the Tom Roby Steeplechase Stakes by 21 lengths and the National Hunt Cup Steeplechase Handicap by 18 lengths. He proved gutsy as well, with one of his wins coming by a nose.
Despite Thrice Worthy winning all five starts in 1981 and four of five in 1982, Mrs. Lewis Murdock’s Zaccio was voted steeplechase champion both years.
Thrice Worthy also was a star in 1983. He won another Pillar Steeplechase, this time by 25 lengths, and his second Lovely Night Steeplechase Handicap.
Thrice Worthy retired after the 1984 season with 25 wins from 66 races and earnings of $309,115. Bred in Virginia by Edward L. Stephenson, he first had raced for B & G Stable while trained by Edmond D. Gaudet and was a stakes winner during that time. During his career, he won nine stakes, including two steeplechase events in course-record time.
Nims acquired Thrice Worthy while the gelding was kept at Farish’s Huisache Farms (now Lane’s End Texas) near Hempstead, Texas. She regularly rode him the first four years she owned him and then sporadically.
Thrice Worthy played a big part when it came to helping out Nims at her farm. “He was a very smart horse and had a calming effect on the other horses when he was around them,” she said. “He would be with the mares and foals out in the field, and would teach the horses how to load in a van. He was sort of like a commander in chief.”
Thrice Worthy was the last of 12 foals produced from the Royal Gem II mare Lycka.