Habitony Succumbs to Heart Problems

Prominent California stallion Habitony, sire of three-time California Horse of the Year Best Pal and 26 other stakes winners, was euthanized the morning of Jan. 30 because of heart problems. "We knew for some time, but his condition started to worsen the last two or three weeks," said John Mabee, who stood the 27-year-old stallion at his Golden Eagle Farm near Ramona. Mabee owns the farm with his wife, Betty.

Best Pal, a Golden Eagle homebred, was a fixture in California's biggest stakes throughout his career. His big wins in the Golden State came in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), Hollywood Futurity (gr. I), Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), Charles H. Strub Stakes (gr. I), Norfolk Stakes (gr. I), and the $1-million Pacific Classic, which wasn't graded when he won the inaugural running, in 1991. Outside California, Best Pal took the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. I) and ran second in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He finished his career with earnings of $5,668,245, behind only Alysheba and John Henry at that time.

Unlike the distance loving Best Pal, Habitony's other millionaire, Richter Scale, excelled in the sprint game. Richter Scale won 12 of 25 starts and his big win came in track-record time of 1:07.95 in the 2000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes (gr. I) at Laurel. Overall, Habitony's runners have earned $16 million.

Bred in Ireland by L.K. McCreery, Habitony was imported to the U. S. as a 2-year-old and raced exclusively in Southern California for owner A.W. Pejsa. He raced a dozen times at two and three, winning the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), Norfolk Stakes (a grade II event then), and Sunny Slope Stakes (gr. III). Habitony bowed a tendon during his 3-year-old season and suffered an injury the following year and was retired with five wins and earnings of $304,190.

Habitony, a son of Habitat who was produced from the Gallant Man mare Courteous Lady, entered stud in 1979 at Marshall Jenney's Derry Meeting Farm in Pennsylvania, and stood there one season before being sent to Japan. He was returned to North America in 1984 and began standing at Golden Eagle the following year.

Habitony's 2001 book consisted of 10 outside mares. The Mabees had not patronized him in several years. Habitony was buried at the farm near Best Pal.