Honor Grades, who might not have been as well known as his half-brothers A.P. Indy and Summer Squall, but who nonetheless achieved plenty of success as a stallion, died unexpectedly March 31 at Darby Dan Farm. He was discovered in his paddock. The 14-year-old son of Danzig out of Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise (by Secretariat) sired 18 stakes winners and the earners of more than $14 million. He ranked sixteenth last year among North American stallions by 2001 turf progeny earnings.
"We are in a state of shock and profoundly sad," said John Phillips, managing partner of Darby Dan. "He was a kind horse, a picture of health, and poised to move to the next level with his first crop of Kentucky 3-year-olds."
Honor Grade's chief earner, Honor Glide, earned $1,397,187. Honor Glide's greatest achievement came when he captured the 1997 Mid-American Triple at Arlington International Raceourse--The Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT), Arlington Classic (gr. IIT) in course-record-equaling time, and Primeco American Derby (gr. IIT). Honor Glide also was a grade I turf winner in New York.
Honor Grades, who entered stud in 1993 at Bonnie Heath Farm in Florida, then was moved Darby Dan for the 1998 season, shuttled several seasons to New Zealand. He is represented by additional North American graded stakes winners Whata Brainstorm, Gone Fishin, Epic Honor, Kalu, and Dr. Park. One of his sons, classic contender Easy Grades, ran second in the San Rafael Stakes (gr. II). Honor Grades also is represented by several group stakes winners from his New Zealand visits.
Honor Grades raced for his breeders, William S. Farish and W.S. Kilroy, before Bruce McNall's Summa Stable and hockey star Wayne Gretzky bought him. Basketball star Magic Johnson later came on board. Honor Grades was retired from racing with five wins, three graded stakes-placings, and earnings of $173,953. His stud fee, which started at $5,000, was $15,000 in 2002.