Chinook Pass, an 11-time stakes winner and the only Washington-bred to win an Eclipse Award, was euthanized May 31 at owner Jill Hallin’s farm in Maple Valley, Wash.
Chinook Pass, who was 31 at the time of his death, was believed to be the oldest living Eclipse Award winner.
According to Hallin, Chinook Pass had a high pulse rate and was in distress from heart malfunction.
“He brought so much joy to my life,” said Hallin, who had owned Chinook Pass since 1988. “It’s a very sad day, but he had a long and wonderful life.”
Foaled and raised at Dewaine Moore’s Rainier Stables in Enumclaw, Wash., Chinook Pass won or placed in 21 of 25 starts, including 15 stakes races, and earned $480,073 for owner Ed Purvis and trainers Bud Klokstad and Laurie Anderson.
The son of Native Born--Yu Turn was named the top sprinter of 1983 and still holds the record for the fastest five furlongs on dirt—:55 1/5—in North American racing history. Chinook Pass was voted into the inaugural class of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.
Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., who rode Chinook Pass to seven stakes victories, once paid the gelding the highest possible praise. “Affirmed (1978 Triple Crown winner) was the best horse I ever rode, but Chinook Pass was the fastest,” Pincay said.
The final start of Chinook Pass’ career was a six-length triumph in the 1983 Longacres Mile, which at that time was the biggest margin of victory in the race’s history. Unfortunately, Chinook Pass suffered a cracked splint bone in his right front foreleg during the race, and he never raced again.
Instead, Chinook Pass went on to a distinguished career as perhaps Washington State’s greatest racing ambassador. He appeared with Hallin several times at Emerald Downs, the last being in 2008 for the 25th anniversary of his Longacres Mile victory.
The champion gelding loved people and easily mingled with spectators. He relished attention in appearances at places like the Seafair Torchlight Parade, the West Lake Plaza downtown, the Grand Ballroom of the Sea-Tac Red Lion Inn, and Shoreline High School in north Seattle.
One appearance was particularly special. When the motion picture Seabiscuit opened in 2003, the gelding appeared on stage for the Seattle premiere at the Overlake Cinemas. The theater, packed with racing enthusiasts, was thrilled to view Washington’s own racing legend.