Grade 1-winning sprinter Bonapaw was euthanized July 7 at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Ky., due to complications caused by the equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. He was 21.
Bonapaw (Sabona—Pawlova, Nijinsky II) was nothing short of a Cinderella horse for his owners, Louisiana-based twin brothers Dennis and James Richard, who purchased the bay gelding as a yearling for $6,500 at the 1997 Keeneland September sale. Bonapaw took his owners far and wide. He captured 18 of 49 starts and earned more than $1.1 million.
He broke his maiden as a 2-year old at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, and over the years became the pride of the track, where he won five stakes.
Bonapaw's first graded stakes victory came in 2001 at Oaklawn Park, where he won the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). In 2002, at the age of 6, he journeyed to the United Arab Emirates for a chance at the group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, where he ran sixth. He then captured the Hanshin Cup Handicap (G3) at Arlington International Race Course before he won the grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park.
His Vosburg win encouraged the Richard brothers to invest a $90,000 supplemental fee to enter Bonapaw in the NAPA Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Arlington, but he finished 10th in a field that included Kona Gold, Xtra Heat, and winner Orientate.
Retired from racing in 2005, he was donated to Old Friends in 2009 by James Richard Jr.
"We are so grateful to have had these years with Bonapaw," said Old Friends president Michael Blowen. "He was a great racehorse, and he meant so much to his owners, as well as all of his many fans. Jamie (Richard) even donated Bonapaw's Vosburgh trophy to us, and we will cherish it always."