Millionaire and four-time grade I winner Awad died July 23 at Old Friends in Georgetown, Ky. The 21-year-old horse was discovered early in the morning in his paddock at the Thoroughbred retirement center, where he has been pensioned since 2006.
According to veterinarian Dr. Doug Byars and Old Friends president Michael Blowen, the cause of death was a sudden heart attack, but a full necropsy is currently underway at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington.
The hard-knocking son of Caveat, Awad raced for seven seasons as a homebred for Maryland’s Ryehill Farm, capturing 14 of his 70 starts. His career earnings totaled $3,270,131.
Awad’s first grade I win came in the 1993 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington, which would prove to be a lucky course for the Maryland bred throughout his career. In 1995 he captured the Arlington Million (gr. IT) in record time of 1:58.69, shaving one-fifth of a second off the course mark set by Perrault in 1982.
With the win he not only gave trainer David Donk and jockey Eddie Maple their first Million triumphs, he also became the first horse ever to win both of those grade I turf events at Arlington.
That year also saw Awad win the Early Times Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park and the Pan American Handicap (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park..
Awad fell a neck short in his bid to win the 1995 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap (gr. IT) at Saratoga, losing to his Old Friends’s paddock mate Kiri’s Clown, but he bounced back in the 1997 race, setting a course record of 2:23.20 that still stands today.
Awad entered stud at Northview Stallion Station in Maryland in 1999 where he sired one stakes winner, Underbidder, and the multiple stakes-placed Arab Miss.
“He was a great horse; he had a tremendous impact on everyone,” said Donk from his barn at Saratoga. “He got the best care of his life while at Old Friends, and we’re so glad we got visit him there last year.”
“It’s been an honor to be associated with a such a champion as Awad,” said Blowen. “He was a favorite at the farm and a favorite of so many of the visiting fans. He will be sorely missed.”