Proper Reality, a 25-year-old multiple graded stakes winner of more than $1.7 million who had been retired at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Facility, was euthanized Feb. 19 at Hagyard’s Equine Medical in Lexington. Michael Blowen, president of Old Friends, made the announcement.
“At about 7:30 this morning, during feeding time, Bill Van Den Dool noticed that he was acting like he had colic,” said Blowen. “After treatment by our barn manager Kent Ralstin and Dr. Mixon, the decision was made to bring him to the clinic where an ultra sound revealed that his chances of living out the rest of his life with dignity were severely compromised.”
The sturdy bay son of In Reality out of Proper Princess (by Nodouble) won the grade I Arkansas Derby, Metropolitan Handicap, and Iselin Handicap, as well as the grade II Illinois Derby and grade III Essex Handicap. He ran fourth to Winning Colors in the 1988 Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Bred and owned by Mrs. James A. Winn, Proper Reality was retired at Bob Holthus’ Kilkerry Farm in Royal, Ark., until he was donated to Old Friends last summer. Holthus trained the horse throughout his career.
Jerry Bailey, who rode Proper Reality in all but one of his 19 starts, said that he was the horse that showed him he could ride in the major leagues when they teamed up to beat Angel Cordero Jr. on Dancing Spree and Pat Day on Seeking the Gold in the 1989 Metropolitan Handicap. “I cannot say he was the best horse in the country in 1989,” wrote Bailey in his autobiography, Against the Odds, but “I am sure he fought harder than anyone else.”
Bred in Florida, Proper Reality was an eight-time stakes winner and was graded stakes placed three more times. He produced a 10-3-1 record from his 19 starts.
“He is in more pain than you or I could ever conceive of,” said Hagyard’s Dr. Kim Sprayberry. “And he’s handling it with absolute class.”
“He will be really missed,” added Blowen. “He was in a front paddock and was always first to greet our visitors.”
A memorial service will be held in the spring at Old Friends’ Dream Chase Farm in Georgetown, Ky.