Kona Gold won the 2000 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Kona Gold won the 2000 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Guy Jenkins

Champion Sprinter Kona Gold Retired

Champion sprinter Kona Gold has been retired, co-owner and trainer Bruce Headley said Sunday, one day after the 9-year-old gelding finished fifth in the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar.

"He's like me," Headley said. "He's getting older. He can't do it as well as he used to. It was seven great years with him, but he's had enough. 'Kona's' been too good to us to keep sending him out there and not have him win. I have a big grass pasture at the house where he'll go for a little while and then we'll see what we'll do with him. He means a lot to me and to his owners and he'll definitely have a good life.

"We had seven great years together and we're very close; I'm going to miss him. But retiring him now is what's best and no matter what, what's best for Kona comes first."

Headley closes the book on a storied career for Kona Gold that includes 14 victories from 30 starts, with seven seconds and two thirds, for earnings of $2,293,384. His biggest career triumph was a half-length victory in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs where he established a new track record of 1:07.77 for the six-furlong distance.

He finished third in the race in 1998 and was second in 1999 before visiting the winner's circle in his third attempt.

"I knew after yesterday's race that that would be it," said jockey Alex Solis, who was aboard the son of Java Gold in all but two of his career starts. "It's a very sad day for me because I'm really going to miss him. He gave me one of the biggest thrills of my career in the Breeders' Cup and I won't ever forget him. He deserves to go up there and lay low and be a horse for a while. He is an awesome, incredible horse and one of the best sprinters in history."