On January 13, 2012, Treble Jig won the Jebal Ali Stakes Sponsored by Shadwell in Dubai to become the 100th stakes winner for his late sire, Gone West. In a day when foal crops of 100 or more are not unusual for a fashionable sire, this milestone may seem less significant than it once did, but Gone West did it in more old-fashioned style: through excellence over time, with an average of just 61 foals per crop.
Bred by Dr. W. O. Reed, Gone West was a member of the 1984 crop which, if not a vintage year, was not far from that standard, its members including Alysheba, Bet Twice, Java Gold, Polish Navy, Cryptoclearance, and Gulch. Had he been judged on looks alone, he would have been considered near the best if not the best of the crop, fetching $1.9 million at the 1985 Keeneland July yearling sale.
Racing for James Mills' Hickory Tree Stable, Gone West was just behind the best of his year. Essentially a miler who could stretch his speed to nine furlongs, he won the Dwyer Stakes (gr. I), the Gotham Stakes (gr. II), and the Withers Stakes (gr. II) and placed in four other graded events. He retired to Mill Ridge Farm at the end of his sophomore season having won six of his 17 starts.
Gone West had all the credentials desired in a young stallion. A grade I winner with miler speed, he was by Mr. Prospector, the leading sire of 1987 and already the sire of the successful young stallions Fappiano, Miswaki, and Conquistador Cielo. (Mr. Prospector would earn a second sire title in 1988, as well as nine titles as leading broodmare sire and a great reputation as a sire of sires.) His dam, Secrettame, was a stakes-winning daughter of Secretariat and a half sister to four other stakes winners including the good sire Tentam (by Intentionally) and 1980 Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) winner Known Fact (by In Reality), a useful sire in his own right. And, as already noted, he was a handsome, well-made individual.
Gone West sired grade I winner West by West and two other stakes winners from his first crop of 31 foals, but he really put his name on the map when 1992 European champion juvenile male and 1993 Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) winner Zafonic emerged from his second crop. Statistics kept by The Jockey Club credit Zafonic with 60 stakes winners from 656 named foals, but unfortunately his best son, 1997 European champion juvenile Xaar, has disappointed at stud. Zafonic's 1994 full brother, group III winner Zamindar, was less consistent than Zafonic—The Jockey Club credits him with 22 stakes winners from 519 foals of racing age—but did beget a runner of the highest class in Zarkava, 2008 European Horse of the Year, as well as European Classic winners Zenda and Darjina.
German multiple champion Royal Abjar and Canadian grade I winner Lassigny headed Gone West's third crop, and the fourth was highlighted by two-time Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Da Hoss and by Mr. Greeley, a multiple grade III winner who ran second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) as a 3-year-old. As a sire, Mr. Greeley begot 58 stakes winners before his death in November 2010, headed by European champion juvenile filly and dual classic winner Finsceal Beo.
Gone West kept getting stakes winners, but he did not sire another top runner until Grand Slam in 1995. A two-time grade I winner at 2, Grand Slam seriously injured a hind tendon in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) but recovered well enough to win the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at 3 before retiring to Ashford Stud. To date, Grand Slam has sired 70 stakes winners including grade/group I winners Cajun Beat, Cafe Olympus, and Visionaire.
Belmont Stakes winner Commendable arrived in 1997, providing Gone West with his only North American classic winner, but it has been 2004 champion sprinter Speightstown , a foal of 1998, who is proving out at stud. A smallish but powerful horse, Speightstown has sired 27 stakes winners from his first five crops of racing age while standing at WinStar Farm, headed by grade/group I winners Haynesfield , Lord Shanakill , Jersey Town , and Mona de Momma.
Multiple grade I winners Came Home and Johar and Canadian grade I winner Changeintheweather—none of which have met expectations as sires—were all born in 1999. That year also saw the birth of Proud Citizen , winner of the 2002 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) and runner-up in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) before retiring to Airdrie Stud. While Proud Citizen has sired but 19 stakes winners so far, he has begotten two very good runners in 2008 champion 3-year-old filly Proud Spell and Chilean grade I winner and champion juvenile filly Vamo a Galupiar.
After his banner season in 1999, Gone West sired only two more grade I winners on the flat, Marsh Side and Zaftig, before his death in September 2009. Nonetheless, he is not quite done as a sire, as his final foals are 2-year-olds of 2012. He is also the broodmare sire of 88 stakes winners to date, including 2005 Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner Motivator, 2010 U.S. champion juvenile filly Awesome Feather, and grade I winners Union Rags , Brilliant Speed, and Frost Giant , so it seems safe to say that while Gone West is gone, he is not forgotten.