Artax, a champion sprinter who was attacked by a drunken racegoer in a stakes on the 1999 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) undercard, died Jan. 8 in an equine hospital in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, because of complications from colic. The 17-year-old stallion (Marquetry—Raging Apalachee, by Apalachee) stood at Haras Santa Tereza do Bom Retiro.
Racing for Ernie Paragallo’s Paraneck Stable, Artax set or equaled three track records during his championship season in 1999. He set track records in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park and in the Carter Handicap (gr. I) at Aqueduct and equaled one in the Forest Hills Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. That year, he also won the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) and placed in five graded stakes.
The attack on Artax was made by a man during the Maryland Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III) inside the eighth pole. The man scaled a chain link fence that surrounds the infield, crossed the turf course, and ran onto the main track as the horses were turning for home. He stood about three paths from the rail and then charged the field with his fists clinched. He attempted to punch Artax but instead hit the right leg of Artax’s jockey, Jorge Chavez. Luckily, there were no injuries to the man or to any of the horses. Artax finished fifth.
Artax was retired following his championship season. From 29 starts, he had won seven races, placed in a dozen others, and earned $1,685,840. He was trained first by Randy Bradshaw and then by Louis Albertrani.
Artax entered stud at Clermont Farm in New York State in 2000. Following the breeding season, he was returned to training but never started. He next stood at Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., and later at several other farms. Prior to being sent to Brazil, he held court at R.G Gammill’s Diamond G Ranch near Edmond, Okla.
Artax, who was bred in Kentucky by Vinery and Carondelet Farm, has sired six stakes winners including grade I winner Friendly Michelle and grade II winner Diabolical. He has progeny earnings of more than $14.7 million.