With the celebration that surrounded Lookin At Lucky's victory in the Preakness this weekend, it should not be forgotten that Thoroughbred racing has lost two of its greatest champions within the past few days.
Skip Away, the 1996 three-year-old champion, champion older horse in 1997 and 1998 and Horse Of The Year in 1998, died on Friday as a result of a heart attack at the age of 17. Skip Away, owned by Carolyn Hine and trained by her husband, Sonny Hine, is still the third-highest earnings Thoroughbred in racing history. He ranks behind Curlin and Cigar on the list with $9,616,360. While he did not win any of the Triple Crown races in his career (he always seemed to run terribly at Churchill Downs and was second in both the Preakness and Belmont), Skip Away's crowning victory came in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Classic at Hollywood Park, which he won by a dominating six lengths in a time of 1:59.1. To watch Skip Away's 1997 Classic victory, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J4rg6nDTvI.
The second champion to pass away in recent days was Snow Chief, who won the Preakness in 1986 and was named the three-year-old champion that same year. He also died of a heart attack on Saturday, the day of the Preakness, at the age of 27. Snow Chief won six Grade 1 races during his career. In addition to the Preakness, he won four Derbies during his three-year-old season (El Camino Real, Florida, Santa Anita, Jersey), but in the big one, like Skip Away, Snow Chief did not have it, finishing 11th as the betting choice at Churchill Downs. Snow Chief ended up earning $3,383,210 in his career and won 13 of 24 lifetime starts.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!