Champion grass horse Sunshine Forever died Jan. 7 at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement farm near Georgetown, Ky. The 29-year-old stallion was discovered in his paddock at dawn and a necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
The son of Roberto out of the Graustark mare Outward Sunshine, Sunshine Forever had been pensioned at Old Friends since his return to the United States in 2004 from stud duty in Japan.
Our foundation stallion, the Eclipse Award winner who we brought home after his breeding career was over, is dead, and there's nothing much more to be said," Old Friends founder and president Michael Blowen said. "I don't think I've ever been sadder."
At age 3 in 1988, Sunshine Forever recorded five graded-stakes victories, including a trio of back-to-back grade I scores in the Turf Classic, Man O' War, and Budweiser International. A favorite in that year's Breeder's Cup Turf (gr. IT), he narrowly missed the win, coming in second to Great Communicator, but he was nevertheless honored as the 1988 Eclipse turf champion.
The bay colt ended his career in 1989 with 8 wins from 23 starts and track earnings of more than $2 million.
"I want to thank everyone who ever fed him a carrot or petted him or bet on him or bred to him or just smiled when they saw him," Blowen said. "You are the ones who had the privilege of knowing how extra-special he was in a very special place."