Horse of the Year and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Alysheba is returning to the United States from Saudi Arabia. He will reside in the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park.
According to a release from the Kentucky Horse Park, the public is invited to the Kentucky Horse Park for Alysheba’s welcome home reception, Oct. 31 at 1:15 pm in the Hall of Champions.
Until two-time Horse of the Year Cigar, who also resides at the Horse Park, came along, Alysheba was the world’s richest Thoroughbred, with earnings of $6,679,242.
Alysheba, who was known on the track as “America’s horse,” has spent the last eight years in the royal stables of HRH King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, after standing his first years at stud at William S. Farish's Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Ky. He will soon arrive back home on his native soil thanks to the king, who is sending Alysheba to the Kentucky Horse Park as a gift to the American people.
John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park stated, “His Royal Highness King Abdullah realized how much Alysheba means to American racing fans and we are grateful for this magnanimous gift of one of his favorite horses to our country. We are grateful as well for the great care His Majesty has provided for Alysheba.”
According to Frank McGovern, general manager of the king’s stables, “The king’s only concern in returning Alysheba to the United States was that priority be given to Alysheba’s well-being and that he be based somewhere that his fans could easily visit him – hence the choice of the Kentucky Horse Park.
“Shipping a 24-year-old horse is not without risk so we had to take every precaution to ensure that the process was stress free. Alysheba’s comfort and safety were of such importance to the king that his two-month pre-export quarantine was spent in the luxury of the ultra-modern Nad Al Sheba Quarantine Centre in Dubai. We are very thankful to the Nad Al Sheba Quarantine team for the care and attention that they gave Alysheba during his stay there.”
Bred by Preston Madden at Hamburg Place in Lexington, Alysheba (Alydar-Bel Sheba, by Lt. Stevens) was sold as a yearling to Dorothy and Pam Scharbauer for $500,000. They campaigned him under the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, who said, “He stuck out like a diamond in a rock pile.” Later, Van Berg observed, “He was so smart he knew what he was doing all the time.”
Alysheba won the 1987 Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Super Derby (gr. I), and an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old colt.
As a 4-year-old, he won six grade I stakes: the Strub Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap, Iselin Handicap, Woodward Stakes, Meadowlands Cup, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was ridden in 17 consecutive starts by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron.
His career highlights also included Horse of the Year honors, enshrinement in the racing Hall of Fame, and track records for 1 1/4 miles at Belmont and The Meadowlands. Along the way, he defeated Risen Star, Forty Niner, Bet Twice, Seeking the Gold, and another Kentucky Derby-winner, the ill-fated Ferdinand.
Nicholson continued, “Alysheba will live out the rest of his life on his native soil, in a Bluegrass pasture surrounded by white plank fences and old oak trees, where his fans can visit him daily. It’s the kind of fairy tale ending that every champion – every horse – deserves, and the generosity of King Abdullah has made this possible for Alysheba.”
The 24-year-old Alysheba will take up residence in the stall formerly occupied by another Horse of the Year, John Henry, which is already outfitted with a heater and well-suited for an older horse. Since Alysheba has been in a very hot climate for the past several years, it will make his transition more comfortable by ensuring he stays warm enough until his winter coat develops. He will live across the aisle from Cigar, the second-leading money-earning Thoroughbred of all time.
Nicholson concluded, “It’s a very good day for Kentucky when one of our home-bred, Kentucky Derby-winning stallions returns. We invite all of Alysheba’s fans to the Kentucky Horse Park to make him feel welcomed.”