Chris McCarron (left) and Jack Van Berg reminisce at the Memorial Service for Alysheba.

Chris McCarron (left) and Jack Van Berg reminisce at the Memorial Service for Alysheba.

Tom Hall

Alysheba Remembered at Memorial Service

Preston Madden calls 1988 Horse of the Year "a gift from heaven."

Preston Madden, who bred Alysheba, called the 1988 Horse of Year and racing Hall of Fame member “a gift from heaven” during a memorial service for the pensioned stallion at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington April 29.

The bay son of Alydar was euthanized March 27 after he fell in his stall at the Horse Park, injured his right hind femur, and was unable to get up. A chronic degenerative spinal condition, his advanced age, and severe pain that didn’t respond to analgesic therapy also were factors in the decision to end the 25-year-old horse’s life.

“Alysheba, it was an honor to have been associated with your greatness," Madden said. “We are here to say goodbye. We will see you in the next life at the big racetrack in the sky.”

Clarence Scharbauer III, whose family campaigned Alysheba, and Hall of Famers Jack Van Berg and Chris McCarron also spoke during the service. Van Berg trained Alysheba, and McCarron rode the horse during 17 of the runner’s 26 career races.

“Alysheba was so intelligent, and it was such a pleasure to have something like him,” Van Berg said. “It wasn’t me training him; he did it all himself. I was just along for the ride, and it was one hell of a ride.”

In addition to earning a Horse of the Year title, Alysheba was the champion 3-year-old colt in 1987 and the champion older male in 1988. He scored in 10 added-money events, including the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in 1987 and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) in 1988. He finished his career with earnings of $6,679,242.

Alysheba Slide Show

“Alysheba was the type of horse that would pull himself up when he got in front,” McCarron said. “As soon as he was outrunning the competition, his ears would go up and he would slow down. As the competition started tiring, he would just go back with them. He gave me heart failure all the time. I’d say, ‘Come on, we’ve got another eighth of a mile to go. I know you’re a neck in front, but run a little faster, please.’ So, consequently, it was difficult for Alysheba throughout his career to have people say he was (one of) the greatest horses of all time because he wouldn’t do like Secretariat or Seattle Slew and go out there and win by 12 or 15 lengths. He always taunted his rivals.”

The late Dorothy Scharbauer purchased Alysheba for $500,000 at the 1985 Keeneland July select yearling sale.

“This horse was incredible for our family,” Clarence Scharbauer III said. “I’ve told this to many people: ‘Ask any trainer in North America to list the top 10 races that they want to win, and they’ll start with the Derby, the Preakness, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He (Alysheba) dang near won all 10.’ You just don’t see this in this day and time. He won the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), which was an incredible day at the races, and he won the Woodward (gr. I) in New York, so he was truly a remarkable animal.”

Alysheba arrived at the Horse Park in October of 2008 after standing for part of his stallion career at King Abdullah’s farm in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah sent him back to this country as a gift to the American people. Alysheba had entered stud at Will Farish’s Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, Ky.

Alysheba is buried at the Horse Park’s Hall of Champions across from the grave of the legendary John Henry.