Grade I winner Paddy O'Prado, who sustained a sesamoid injury in his May 21 victory in the Dixie Stakes (gr. II), has been retired after a career in which he posted five wins, three seconds, and three thirds from 15 starts, with earnings of $1,721,297. Stud plans have not been finalized.
Trainer Dale Romans said x-rays taken Sunday, May 22, revealed the injury in the right leg. Romans said the colt appeared fine immediately after the race but a veterinarian noticed the colt was soon limping badly, leading to the decision to have the x-ray.
“He was noticeably sore. He wasn’t in any distress, but we knew there was a problem,” Romans said. ``We think he’ll make a great sire and really could have an impact on American racing in the future. He’s a big, strong, sound horse. It’s just a bad step type of injury.”
Purchased at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale for $105,000 by trainer Dale Romans on behalf of a group of 11 owners mostly from Iowa that race as Donegal Racing, Paddy O’Prado first emerged on the national scene on the Triple Crown trail of 2010. The son of El Prado produced from the Prized mare Fun House broke his maiden with a victory in the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) on turf at Gulfstream Park. He then earned his ticket to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a second in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface.
The colt was third in the Derby before finishing unplaced in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) two weeks later.
Returned to grass racing, Paddy O’Prado reeled off consecutive victories in the Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby, both grade II stakes at Colonial Downs, and the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park. He completed his 3-year-old season with a second in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) and won the Dixie in his only start of 2011.
“Today is bittersweet,” Romans said in a statement. “Paddy returned to training like a big gray monster, and we thought we were sitting on the horse of the year but now he will be able to go on and be a champion sire.
“He was as versatile as any horse I’ve ever trained, and competed at the highest levels on turf, dirt and polytrack. It takes a special horse to win or place in grade I races on all three surfaces,” Romans said. “He never gave less than full effort, and every time we led him to the track, I was confident that he could compete against any other horse.”
“We are very disappointed today to see Paddy’s career end so suddenly,” Jerry Crawford, Donegal Racing managing partner, said. “This is what is best for Paddy; he will make a full recovery and embark on the next stage of his career. The thrills that he has given us are priceless and we were so proud and honored to share them with family, friends, and fans in Iowa and around the country.”
Due to his ownership by mostly current or former residents of Iowa, Paddy O'Prado had a strong following in the state, Crawford said.
"The state just adopted this horse as their own,’’ said Crawford, who lives in Des Moines. "He came to be known that way, as Iowa’s horse, and I think it’s something the state won’t forget soon."