By Anne Peters
The Mr. Prospector sire line has been an American institution since his first runners hit the races in 1978. While his family tree flourished and evolved through many different sons such as Fappiano, Forty Niner, Machiavellian, and Smart Strike, those descending from his son Gone West have remained relatively true to Mr. Prospector’s gift of brilliant speed. Another generation down the line, Gone West’s grandson Quality Road just earned the title of leading freshman sire of 2014, and another grandson, Munnings , finished in fourth place.
Gone West was foaled in 1984 at Dr. William O. Reed’s Mare Haven Farm (now Casa Farm) near Lexington. Reed had shifted his operation from Florida a few years earlier, and included in that move was his prized mare Tamerett, a daughter of Tim Tam whose Florida-bred foals included stakes winners Tamtent, Tentam, Terete, and Known Fact, the latter winner of the 1980 Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I). Tamerett’s first foal at the Kentucky farm was Secrettame (1978), a nearly flawless, elegant chestnut filly by Secretariat.
Secrettame sold as a yearling for $400,000 to Dr. Jose Sahagun of Venezuela who was establishing Villa Blanca Farm in Kentucky. Unraced at 2, Secrettame was second in the Gazelle Handicap (gr. II) at 3. At 4 she was run through the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select fall mixed sale in the Villa Blanca dispersal, bringing $1.15 million from Reed, who was keen to get the daughter of Tamerett back as a broodmare. Secrettame continued to race in the name of Reed’s wife, Audrey, and at 5, won a division of the Shirley Jones Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Later that spring she was shipped to Kentucky and bred to Mr. Prospector.
Secrettame dropped a handsome bay colt in 1984 at Mare Haven, and he sold the next year at the Keeneland July yearling sale for $1.9 million to James and Alice Mills’ Hickory Tree Stable. Named Gone West, he was a winner at 2, and at 3 faced a strong crop led by the juvenile champion male Capote, the classy Gulch, and the ultimate division champion Alysheba.
Prepping in Florida, Gone West won a pair of allowance races, was second in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III), then third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II). In New York, he won the Gotham Stakes (gr. II) beating both Capote and Gulch, then lost the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) by a head to Gulch. Kept in New York, he won the Withers Stakes (gr. II), was second to Leo Castelli in the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II), then ran sixth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), won by Bet Twice.
Plucky Gone West bounced back in the Dwyer Stakes (gr. I) winning by 12 1/2 lengths, proving that he could stay nine furlongs. He finished the season with unplaced efforts in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I), Woodward Stakes (gr. I), and Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I). Gone West retired with a reputation as a serious runner between a mile and 1 1/8 miles, and with his exquisite pedigree, entered stud at Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky in 1988.
From 22 crops and 1,263 foals, Gone West sired 101 stakes winners, an exceptional 8%, and although they leaned toward a miler’s profile, covered a range of aptitudes represented by European champion juvenile Zafonic, 6-year-old champion sprinter Speightstown , two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Da Hoss, to 1 1/2-mile winners Commendable (Belmont Stakes) and Johar (John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf, gr. IT).
Gone West passed on his distinctive body type, a medium-sized horse built along speed lines with terrific quality, a broad chest, great shoulder, and powerful hindquarter. He had a neat, chiseled expressive head, with a big jowl and broad forehead. He was pensioned in May 2009 and died the following September after colic surgery at the age of 25.
Gone West has been a generous sire of sires. His world-record-setting son Elusive Quality has sired Smarty Jones , Raven's Pass, and Quality Road. Speightstown is now one of the premier stallions in the land and has several young sons at stud including Munnings. Zafonic and his brother Zamindar were both top sires in Europe. Grand Slam was a longtime success. Mr. Greeley was popular, as was his son El Corredor, and Horse Greeley is now stepping up. Western Winter was a top sire in South Africa. Proud Citizen sired a pair of Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winners. Istan, one of his youngest sons at stud, is starting to look useful.
Gone West’s daughters are jewels in the breeding shed as well and have produced at least 125 stakes winners including group/grade I winners Motivator, Union Rags , Leading Light, Awesome Feather, Game Face, Healthy Addiction, Violence , and Brilliant Speed.
He may be gone, but certainly he is not forgotten.