Skywalker, who won the 1986 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) and whose champion son Bertrando finished second in the 1993 running, died the morning of Feb. 25 of a heart attack at Arthur B. Hancock III's Stone Farm near Paris, Ky. The son of Relaunch was foaled and raised at Stone Farm, where he had stood at stud since the 1996 breeding season. He was 21.
"Skywalker was a grand individual and very beloved here at the farm," said Hancock. "His death was a shock to all of us and we will certainly miss him."
Skywalker's victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic as a 4-year-old for Tom Tatham and partners' Oak Cliff Stable came over favorites Turkoman and Precisionist for trainer Michael Whittingham. Slywalker won four other stakes, all graded, during his career, including the 1985 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). Retired with eight wins from 20 races and earnings of $2,226,750, he entered stud at Cardiff Stud Farms in California.
Bertrando, one of 40 stakes winners for his sire, set a track record in the Pacific Classic (gr. I) and took the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) by 13 1/2 lengths his 1993 championship season. He since has become one of the West Coast's most successful sires.
Skywalker, who was bred by Oak Cliff Thoroughbreds and named by Tatham's son after Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker, was the most accomplished of five stakes winners from the stakes-winning Boldnesian mare Bold Captive.
Skywalker covered three mares this year. He will be buried at Stone Farm.