GEORGETOWN, Ky.— It was with a heavy heart that Michael Blowen, founder and President of Old Friends, announced the passing of Gulch. The 1988 Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champion and Eclipse Award winner was euthanized Jan. 17 due to complications from cancer.
At 32, Gulch was the oldest living Breeders’ Cup Champion.
A son of Mr. Prospector out of the Rambunctious mare Jameela, Gulch has been a resident of the Thoroughbred Retirement Center based in Georgetown, KY, since 2009 and was one of the farm’s of flagship stallions attracting visitors and fans from all around the country.
As both a runner and a sire, Gulch blazed an unforgettable trail. Bred by Peter Brant in Kentucky, Gulch became a Grade 1 winner as a two-year-old when he captured the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. At three he won the GR 1 Wood Memorial and the first of his two consecutive wins in the GR1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.
As a four-year-old Gulch captured the GR3 Potrero Grande Handicap and the GR1 Carter Handicap en route to his final start and greatest victory in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Sprint for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. For his efforts Gulch was named 1988 Eclipse Champion Sprinter.
The stallion retired with 13 wins from 32 starts and earnings of $3,095,521.
Gulch continued his career success as a sire at William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, KY.
His most notable offspring is 1995 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch. Other Grade 1 winners include Court Vision, Great Navigator, The Cliff’s Edge, and Wallenda, who is also a retiree at Old Friends.
In all, Gulch is represented by 71 stakes winners–30 of which are grade or group winners–72 stakes-placed runners and the earners of $80 million.
Due to declining fertility, Gulch was pensioned from the breeding shed in 2009 and was later graciously donated to Old Friends by Lane’s End.
At the time, Lane’s End principal Bill Farish noted that the stallion’s popularity with fans
influenced the farm’s decision to send him to Old Friends, which is open to tourists daily.
“He was a horse that was well known to the public having been through the Triple Crown trail and having been a top two-year-old and a champion sprinter,” said Farish in a 2009 release. “He was a horse that people always wanted to see. Plus, he’s kind of a ham, and he will enjoy the attention immensely.”
“As Leroy Jolley, who was Gulch’s first trainer, once said, ‘Gulch must be the toughest horse who ever lived,’ and he was,” noted Old Friends’ Blowen. “He was confident, self-possessed and regal. He didn’t demand respect–he earned it. He is irreplaceable.”