Turkoman, the 1986 Eclipse champion older male, was euthanized due to infirmities of old age Dec. 21 at E.A. Ranches in Ramona, California. The pensioned son of Alydar was 34.
Trained by Gary Jones and campaigned by Saron Stable, Turkoman teased of his ability during his 3-year-old season with runner-up finishes in the grade I Swaps and Travers Stakes and a third-place finish in the 1985 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).
It was at age four that the dark bay son of Alydar shone most brightly. A fan favorite due in part to his 17-hand size and thrilling come-from-behind style, Turkoman won the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II), Widener Handicap (gr. I), and Tallahassee Handicap before running down Precisionist in the 1986 Marlboro Cup (gr. I). Favored in that year's Breeders' Cup Classic, Turkoman trailed the field before unleashing his trademark come-from-behind move in the homestretch only to fall short by 1 1/4 lengths to longshot Skywalker.
Turkoman won 8 of 22 starts and earned $2,146,924. After beginning his breeding career at Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky, he moved to California, first to Circle H Ranch, then Mira Loma Thoroughbreds, and then, in 2005, to E. A. Ranches.
Pensioned in 2008, Turkoman sired 34 stakes winners, including Peruvian champion Captain Garfio and grade I winners Turk Passer and Man From Wicklow.
After Turkoman's pensioning, not all of the stallion's syndicate shareholders agreed to continue to pay toward his care, and he was moved to a different farm. But E. A. Ranches' farm manager Marguerite Eliasson soon heard from connections there that Turkoman was not doing well, pacing the fence line and losing weight.
Knowing that Our Mims Retirement Haven had housed both Turkoman's "aunt" Our Mims and his dam Taba, Eliasson contacted Haven owner and manager Jeanne Mirabito. Through discussions between Eliasson, Mirabito, and Haven director of fund raising and promotion Cheryl Bellucci, a solution was reached: If the syndicate would pay the same amount they were paying to board Turkoman elsewhere, then Eliasson, the Haven, and a Turkoman fan named Sandy Smith, who lived in Michigan, would make up the difference.
Turkoman returned to E. A. Ranches in October 2008.
"There was talk about bringing him to Kentucky, but Turkoman was happiest at E. A. Ranches," Bellucci recalled. "We were so glad when the syndicate agreed to continue partial payment of his care."
Carroll Robertson Ray and Rose Hochner Nelson, the daughter and granddaughter of Corbin and Wilhelmina Robertson, Turkoman's owners during his racing career, provided a grant to the Haven for the nonprofit's portion of Turkoman's board.
Turkoman lived out his days at E. A. Ranches, staying in the same paddock and receiving excellent care from his grooms. Before her own retirement, Eliasson visited him daily to feed him some of his favorite treats.
Turkoman's body is being cremated. His cremains will be sent to Our Mims Retirement Haven for burial near his dam, Taba, and his half-sister, Taba Dance, who was also a resident at the Haven.
"The great Turkoman may be gone from the Earth, but his blood flows through the veins of many. He will never be forgotten," Mirabito said. "Run fast and free, Turk... down the lane, past the gate, over the mountains and into eternity. You were loved."