Letthebighossroll, a million-dollar earner that was among the first of Bob Baffert's top horses after he became a Thoroughbred trainer, died May 23 of a pulmonary hemorrhage at the age of 23.
The gray gelding died at Neal Arave's Open A Ranch in Hemet, Calif., where he was kept since shortly after his retirement at the end of the 1997 season. A California-bred son of Flying Paster owned by Mike Pegram, Letthebighossroll raced 60 times during a seven-year career (1991-97), winning 18 races and earning $1,014,377.
Letthebighossroll, bred by Cardiff Sud Farm, was one of four California champions by Flying Paster and was second among his offspring in earnings behind only Flying Continental ($1,815,938). His dam was Moonlight Jig, a stakes winner of $306,751. Pegram acquired Letthebighossroll for $80,000 at the 1990 Barretts sale of 2-year-olds in training.
One of the leading sprinters on the tough Southern California circuit, Letthebighossroll captured the 1996 Triple Bend Breeder's Cup (gr. III) at Hollywood Park as well as nine other listed or restricted stakes, including the 1991 California Cup Sprint Handicap at Santa Anita.
Baffert and Pegram agreed to give the horse to turf writer Stephanie Diaz after they decided to retire Letthebighossroll.
"He was a nice horse and one mean son of a gun," Baffert recalled. "He got his name from a horse we saw at Ruidoso Downs when we (he and Pegram) were there for the All-American Futurity. The horse's name was Letthebigdogeat, which I thought was a great name for a horse. But Mike said he would never use the word eat in a name for a horse so we knocked it around and came up with Letthebighossroll."
On the backstretch, Letthebighossroll had a legendary temper.
"He bit so many people, just about everyone I had working for me," Baffert said. "He never got me but he ripped a shirt off me once. He was a very smart horse. He would back up in his stall and kind of bait you into thinking he wasn't going to do anything, then he would come charging forward into the netting and try to get you."
One time Letthebighossroll broke away from a truck transport employee and tore off to terrorize the Del Mar barn area, Baffert recalled. "He was running all over, crashing into trash cans and everything and no one could catch him. He finally fell into a pile of manure. I think he was just exhausted. I couldn't run him for quite awhile after that."
Arave was able to re-train Letthebighossroll to become a good saddle horse. Letthebighossroll herded cows for a few years "but mostly loved going on trails and spending time running in pasture with his best friend, Pugnacious," Diaz said in an email.