Black Tie Affair, the 1991 Horse of the Year, was euthanized July 1 at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, Ky., due to the effects of laminitis. He was 24.
According to a statement from the farm, a memorial to honor Black Tie Affair will be held later in July.
"It was an honor to be associated with such an amazing athlete," said Old Friends founder and president Michael Blowen, who, along with veterinarian Dr. Douglas Byars, made the decision to euthanize the horse. "The Old Friends team, headed by Dr. Byars, did everything we could to help this old warrior. In the end, he exhibited the same class as he did when he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was the best in every way."
Black Tie Affair has been pensioned at Old Friends since July 2009.
Trained by Ernie Poulos for Jeff Sullivan, Black Tie Affair won six consecutive graded stakes in 1991, including the Philip H. Iselin Handicap (gr. I), the Washington Park Handicap (gr. II), and the Stephen Foster (gr. III).
The son of Miswaki then secured the Horse of the Year and champion older male titles with a gate-to-wire upset win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), defeating top horses including Twilight Agenda, Strike the Gold, and Unbridled. Produced from the Al Hattab mare Hat Tab Girl, Irish-bred Black Tie Affair retired with 18 wins from 45 starts and earnings of $3,370,694.
He entered stud in 1992 at Ben Walden Jr.’s Vinery near Midway, Ky., and later stood for several years in Japan. Among his 35 stakes winners is multiple grade I winner Formal Gold and 2001 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Evening Attire.
Black Tie Affair returned to the U.S. in 2004 and stood at Randy Funkhouser’s O’Sullivan Farms near Charles Town, W.V., for a partnership managed by Donna Hayes.
"He was just life-changing for us," Dee Poulos, wife of late trainer Ernie Poulos, said in a statement from Old Friends. "It was such a wonderful experience with him. He was, and will still be, an inspiration for me. When things got tough, I would think about Black Tie. He was my motivator."
Dee Poulos last saw Black Tie Affair at Old Friends in June.
"I felt I just had to see him, and I told my sister that we just had to go," she said. "I'm so glad we did. I spent a lot of time with him that day. We brought him out and he was just grazing, and I was playing with his ears–I always loved the feel of his ears–and he suddenly looked up at me and I thought, ‘Oh, Black Tie just said goodbye.’ I didn’t want to think that way, but it was a terrible feeling I had. It was just wonderful that he ended up at Old Friends. The horse was one of a kind."