KY Derby Winner Strike the Gold Dead at 23

KY Derby Winner Strike the Gold Dead at 23
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Strike the Gold in the Winner's Circle after the 1991 Kentucky Derby.

Strike the Gold, the 1991 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner, was euthanized at Karacabey Stud Farm in Turkey Dec. 13, it was confirmed by the Turkish Jockey Club. The 23-year-old son of Alydar had been the oldest living Derby winner.

Strike the Gold, who was still the leading active stallion in Turkey, fractured his left front pastern while in his paddock Dec. 13, and after being examined by a team of veterinarians, was euthanized. He had battled laminitis recently, but was still in relatively good health until his injury.
“He was a champion stallion and our top stallion,” said Adem Kutay Yusufoglu, an officer of the Turkish Jockey Club. “He had some problems, but he was still a happy horse until he died.”

The chestnut horse, who was bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm and was out of the Hatchet Man mare Majestic Gold, won the 1991 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II) prior to scoring in the Derby by 1 3/4 lengths over Best Pal. He was ridden to victory by Chris Antley for trainer Nick Zito. B. Giles Brophy, William J. Condren, and Joseph M. Cornacchia owned Strike the Gold and raced him under the name BCC Gold Stable during his 3-year-old season.

"It's very sad to hear. I hadn't seen him in many years but I heard he was healthy," said Zito Dec. 14. "He was obviously the horse that helped launch my career; he's a big reason why I'm here today. It's all because of him. Go for Gin was wonderful too, but Strike was my first and so he'll always be special to me. He's still the last horse to win the Blue Grass and the Derby."

Strike the Gold would go on to finish sixth in the Preakness (gr. I) and second by a head to Hansel in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). As a 4-year-old, after a reported ownership dispute, he was sold at the Fasig-Tipton New York sale for $2.9 million, with Condren and Cornacchia buying out Brophy's share. Four days after the sale he tallied his only other grade I victory when taking the Pimlico Special Handicap and then won the Nassau County Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. He was graded stakes placed 10 times in his career.

He retired in 1993 with a record of 6-8-5 from 31 starts and earnings of $3,457,026.
Strike the Gold began his stallion duties at Ben Walden Jr.’s Vinery near Midway, Ky., and in 1998 was sold to Turkey. He was a tremendously successful sire in Turkey, with total progeny earnings of more than $20.4 million, according to the Turkish Jockey Club. At the time of his death, he was the leading stallion in 2011, with progeny earnings of more than $4.3 million.
His best runner was Sabirli, a seven-time Turkish champion sprinter/miler who earned more than $2.8 million.

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