Strike The Gold, winner of the 1991 Kentucky Derby, has passed away in Turkey, where he had been a successful Sire. Strike The Gold died of a heart attack at the age of 23. The offspring of Alydar had been able to accomplish what his historic Sire couldn't do in winning that Derby twenty years ago.
Strike The Gold had a running style of coming from off the pace and he did that in Louisville on that Derby Day 1991. Strike The Gold fell back to 12th place in the early stages of the 117th Derby. Jockey Chris Antley started moving the horse through the field and was in 6th position at the top of the stretch. Strike The Gold charged to the lead in the stretch and had drifted well into the middle of the racetrack by the time the wire arrived. Strike The Gold had gone past Fly So Free, who had defeated him already in the Florida Derby, and the pacesetting Hansel, who would go on to win the Preakness and Belmont. The Californian, Best Pal, would run on to be second, and 86-1 shot, Mane Minister, ended up third.
This Derby was the first time that one Mr. Nick Zito burst onto the racing scene as the trainer of the winner. The TV shots of Zito cheering his charge on to victory are now quite famous, making Zito an instant household name and a trainer to be reckoned with nearly every year since. Zito would win a second Derby with Go For Gin three years later.
Strike The Gold was the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner at the time of his death. For his career, Strike The Gold went to the post 31 times, winning six, placing second in eight and third in five others. His career earnings were $3,457,026. Here is the link to watch Strike The Gold's greatest moment of glory, the 1991 Kentucky Derby: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xEQ4hNqSZo.
Strike The Gold will always hold a soft spot in my heart as he is one of the very few Kentucky Derby winners I selected before the race. Tune in again on Friday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of sikids.com