Blushing K.D. in the 1997 Kentucky Oak(gr. I)

Blushing K.D. in the 1997 Kentucky Oak(gr. I)

Anne M. Eberhardt

Efforts to Save Blushing K. D. Futile

Blushing K. D., whose victory in the 1997 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) ensured a measure of fame for owners James and Sue Burns, died earlier this month at Dr. Bruce Lyle’s clinic near Aubrey, Texas, after undergoing colic surgery. The 6-year-old mare had been battling laminitis ever since she broke both sesamoids in her left foreleg in the summer of her 3-year-old season.

Blushing K. D. turned out to be dream come true for the Burnses, who had bought the mare as a 2-year-old for $25,000 at the 1996 Fair Grounds Sales Company March horses of racing age sale with the intention of running her on grass. The couple liked the fact that Blushing K. D. sported a turf pedigree (by French classic winner Blushing John out of Lilac Garden, by English classic winner Roberto), but they never started her on that surface.

Turned over to trainer Sam David Jr., Blushing K. D. won at first asking at Louisiana Downs that August, then captured the Princess Futurity at that track a month later in her last start of the year. At Fair Grounds in January, she finished fifth in an allowance race, then in her next race, proved to Jim Burns how special she was.

“I was talking to Sam while she was getting ready for the Fair Grounds Sales Derby, and he said “Don’t worry. If we’re anywhere close to front, we’ll win,’ ” Burns said.

Blushing K. D. raced slightly behind the pacesetting colt Tricky for the first part of the 1 1/16 mile race, but no one raced near her at the end. Six lengths in front with a furlong to go, she won by 20 lengths.
Blushing K. D. captured the Davona Dale Stakes, Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. III), and Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) before heading to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). “It was great,” Burns said. “We had a great time all Derby week.”

The best came when Blushing K. D. slammed an all-star field that included the previous year’s champion 2-year-old filly Storm Song, plus Tomisue’s Delight, Sharp Cat, and Glitter Woman. Blushing K. D. scored by 2 1/2 lengths over Tomisue’s Delight.

Blushing K. D. finished a disappointing fourth in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico, and it later was determined she had suffered the effects of a potassium deficiency. She returned two months later to win the Monmouth Breeders’ Cup Oaks (gr. II) in stakes-record time of 1:41.92.

“The way she came back from the Pimlico race and broke the stakes record in the Monmouth Oaks was great,” Burns said. “Sue thinks her best race was the Kentucky Oaks, but for me it’s the Monmonth race.”

The Burnses set their sights on Blushing K. D. taking on males once again, this time in the Buick Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Monmonth Park in August. Unfortunately, it ended when she fractured her sesamoids during a workout. Blushing K. D., who was bred by Carl Icahn’s Foxfield, was retired with eight wins from 10 starts and earnings of $918,900

Blushing K. D. never produced a foal and underwent several operations on her front legs. The Burnses settled an insurance policy on the mare in 1999, and the insurance company donated her to Central Kentucky veterinarian Ric Redden. On May 4 of this year, the mare was sent to Lyle. A specialist in embryo transplants, Lyle planned to produce a Quarter Horse foal through artificial insemination and transfer the fetus to a surrogate mare.

Blushing K. D. was buried at Lyle’s farm. By David Schmitz