Gone West, who carved out a successful branch of the Mr. Prospector sire line all his own as the sire of 98 stakes winners, was euthanized the night of Sept. 7 because of complications following colic surgery. The 25-year-old stallion, who was pensioned after this year’s breeding season because of declining fertility, had been taken two days earlier to Hagyard Equine Medical Institute near Lexington.
“On Saturday morning, Sept. 5, Gone West colicked and was taken to Hagyard where Dr. Bob Hunt examined him and determined it necessary to perform surgery,” according to a statement issued by Headley Bell of Mill Ridge. “His surgery revealed a lipoma, a mass nearly the size of a football that was attached to a cord and had wrapped around his small intestine. Dr. Hunt removed the mass and did not find it necessary to resect any of his small intestine.
“Gone West’s recovery went fairly well on Saturday and Sunday with the exception of elevated heart rate and reflux, liquid build up that would not pass through his small intestine. Regretfully, the intestine never opened up, and he grew more uncomfortable with time. Monday, at 6 p.m., we made the humane decision to put Gone West down.
“On behalf of my mother, Alice Chandler, and everyone at Mill Ridge, I want to thank everyone for their support of Gone West over the years. It is a privilege to associate with such a classy horse and he has left a lasting legacy. He has been buried next to Diesis at Mill Ridge Farm.”
Gone West stood his entire career at Mill Ridge, which is owned by Chandler and her husband, Dr. John Chandler.
Bred in Kentucky by Dr. William O. Reed, Gone West was produced from the stakes-winning Secretariat mare Secrettame.
A grade I winner who won or placed in seven graded stakes at 3, Gone West belonged to the vintage 1984 foal crop that included Alysheba, Bet Twice, Java Gold, Cryptoclearance, Lost Code, Afleet, Gulch, Polish Navy, and Demons Begone.
As a 3-year-old in 1987, Gone West manhandled Polish Navy and others in winning the Dwyer Stakes (gr. I) by 12 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park. He also captured that year’s Gotham Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct and the Withers Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont. Gone West’s four stakes-placings included a head loss to Gulch in the Wood Memorial Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct.
Trained by Woody Stephens, Gone West retired after his 3-year-old season with a record of six wins from 17 starts and earnings of $682,251 for James Mills, who raced the colt in the name of Hickory Tree Stable. Mills had bought Gone West for $1.9 million at the 1985 Keeneland July yearling sale.
Gone West got off to a quick start at stud. He ranked 10th on the first-crop sires list by progeny earnings in 1991, then third on the second-crop list, then second on the third-crop list. In 1995, he ranked third on the general sires list, with progeny earnings of $5.1 million.
Gone West sired such grade I winners as Da Hoss, Johar, Speightstown , Commendable, Came Home, Lassigny, Grand Slam, and West by West. In Europe, he was represented by English and French champion Zafonic and German champion Royal Abjar.
Da Hoss captured two runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) in the 1990s, and Johar finished in a deadheat for first in the 2003 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT). Johar stands at stud at Mill Ridge. Speightstown was voted 2004 champion sprinter after winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I).
Gone West’s prominent sons at stud include Speightstown and Grand Slam, plus Mr. Greeley, Elusive Quality, and Proud Citizen. Elusive Quality, the 2004 leading sire the year his son Smarty Jones was voted champion 3-year-old male after winning the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), sired last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Raven’s Pass.
Perhaps the greatest example of Gone West’s success in male-line is that 32 of the stallion’s sons and grandsons are listed in The Blood-Horse Stallion Register of 2009.