As Old Friends Kentucky received the grand news that the landmark Thoroughbred retirement facility would receive a coveted Eclipse Award in 2015, the good news was muted by the sudden loss of two great residents of the facility.
Millionaire and grade 1 winner Kiri’s Clown, 25, and 15-year-old A.P. Slew succumbed to severe colic, according to an announcement by Michael Blowen of Old Friends.
Both animals were euthanized after surgical intervention was first tried. Sadly, Kiri’s Clown slipped and broke his leg as he was coming out of anesthesia. Though he had come through colic surgery with flying colors, the broken leg was too severe, and he was euthanized Dec. 22.
And second Thoroughbred, A.P. Slew, was euthanized after exploratory surgery revealed little could be done for his colic. He died on Dec. 21.
Both animals had remarkable careers in racing before landing softly at the Thoroughbred retirement facility, which was the brainchild of former arts and entertainment reporter Michael Blowen.
Kiri’s Clown, a pensioned stallion who retired to Old Friends in 2006, was the son of Kentucky Derby Champion Foolish Pleasure, out of the Kris mare Kiri, Kiri’s Clown was one of Old Friends’ flagship retirees.
He was donated to the farm by owners Bob and Mary Sullivan and was soon paddocked next to his old track rival Awad. The two faced off in several editions of the grade 1 Sword Dancer with Kiri’s Clown claiming victory by a neck in 1995 when he set a track record on the Saratoga Oval.
Trained by Phil Johnson and ridden by Mike Luzzi, Jean Cruguet and others, Kiri’s Clown raced for six seasons. His wins include the grade 3 Knickerbocker Handicap at Aqueduct as well as back-to-back editions of the grade 3 New Hampshire Sweepstakes at Rockingham Park in 1994 and 1995, where he set a course record each time.
In 62 starts the dark bay stallion had 16 wins and careers earnings of $1,005,469.
Kiri’s Clown stood stud for nine seasons at various farms in Kentucky before retiring from the breeding shed in 2006. His daughter, Foolish Gal, produced the grade 1 winner Get Stormy.
The blow of losing the two champs was softened by the recent arrival of racing stars Game on Dude, Amazombie and Silver Charm, Blowen says, noting, however, that he was taking the death of Kiri’s Clown particularly hard.
“I like all of our retirees, but there are a handful that I love. I loved Kiri,” Blowen says. “I’ll never forget the day he set the track record in the Sword Dancer at Saratoga in 1995 where I couldn’t get a seat. He was very intelligent and had the good fortune to be bred, raced, owned and retired by Mary Sullivan.”
Blowen adds that winning an Eclipse Award is an amazing honor. “We’re looking forward to 2015 with grounded optimism,” he says. “The recognition by our fellow professionals in horse racing is something that everyone connected with Old Friends, from our visitors to our staff, volunteers, and top donors to the 5th grade class at Western Elementary in Georgetown, can all take with a certain measure of pride.” ♦