Joy Gilbert / Hill 'n' Dale Farm

Theatrical Pensioned From Stud Duty

Sire of 81 stakes winners was champion turf male in 1987

Hill 'n' Dale Farms announced Oct. 13 that champion and leading sire Theatrical has been pensioned from stud duty.

The 27-year-old son of Nureyev, out of the Sassafras mare Tree of Knowledge, was bred in Ireland by Bert and Diana Firestone. They raced Theatrical in Europe and the United States, and later raced him with the late Allen Paulson. After his stellar racing career, he began his stud career at Paulson’s Brookside Farm near Versailles, Ky. In 2001, he was moved to John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm near Lexington.

"Due to the infirmities of old age coupled with declining fertility, the proper thing to do is to retire Theatrical from stud duty," said Sikura in a release.  

A winner of 10 of 22 career starts, Theatrical earned $2,940,036. He began his racing career in Ireland, but it took off when he was moved to the U.S., winning an astounding six grade I races in 1987 with Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. His season, and racing career, ended with a thrilling victory over European superstar Trempolino at Hollywood Park in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr .I). He then earned the Eclipse Award for top turf male.

Theatrical started his six-pack of grade I wins in the Hialeah Turf Cup in South Florida, then went to Belmont Park, and after winning the grade II Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT), he took the 1 3/8-mile Bowling Green, and the 12-furlong Sword Dancer, which he won via disqualification over Dance of Life. After a third-place finish behind Manila and Sharrood in the Arlington Million (gr. I), Theatrical returned to New York to add the Turf Classic and Man o’ War Stakes prior to the Breeders’ Cup.

“Theatrical had the single biggest effect on my life as far as any horse," said Mott in a release. "He was probably one of the best horses I have ever been around. He was my first Breeders’ Cup winner. He was my first champion. He won six grade Is that year...and then he’s turned out to be a very, very productive stallion.  I was fortunate enough to wind up with a couple breeding rights in him and train a lot of his sons and daughters. I had numerous stakes winners who were by Theatrical...I think just the long-term effect has gone on for the last 20 years really.”

Theatrical has sired 81 stakes winners, offering a strong dose of stamina to his offspring. Among his top runners were three-time Japanese champion Hishi Amazon, Irish champion 3-year-old male Zagreb, Irish champion filly Theoretically, and French classic winner Madeleine's Dream. He was also the sire of top North American runners and millionaires Royal Anthem, Geri, Astra, Shakespheare, and Mrs. Lindsay.

Theatrical's influence reached around the globe as well, as he sired 2002 Toohey’s New Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) winner Media Puzzle. He is the sire of 22 grade/group I winners and 14 millionaires.

Theatrical has also enjoyed commercial success throughout his stud career with yearlings selling for $4 million, $2.2 million, and $2 million. He is also proving to be a top broodmare sire. Theatrical's daughters have produced the earners of more than $55 million, as well as 50 stakes winners, including multiple grade I winner, Breeders’ Cup Turf winner, and 2007 turf champion male English Channel .

"Our success is based on how we care for these magnificent animals, so what's best for them always comes first,” Sikura said. “Theatrical will live out his retirement years at Hill 'n' Dale. It was an honor to stand such an important stallion of the American Turf for the Paulson family whose influence is likely to live on through many generations to come."