Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba euthanized

March 28, 2009 11:13:48 AM PDT
Alysheba, the 1987 Kentucky Derby winner and 1988 Horse of the Year, has died. The champion stallion was 25. The horse fell in his stall Friday, injuring his right hind leg, and was euthanized later that night at a medical center in Lexington. The Kentucky Horse Park said Alysheba was buried Saturday at its Hall of Champions.

Alysheba also won the Preakness but finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes in an attempt to win the Triple Crown. A year later, Alysheba won six Grade 1 stakes, including the Breeders' Cup Classic, and was voted Horse of the Year.

Alysheba arrived at the horse park last year after eight years in Saudi Arabia. He was returned by Saudi King Abdullah as a gift to the American people.

Alysheba, a son of Alydar, was trained by Jack Van Berg. He was the 3-year-old male champion in 1987 and in '88 won the Strub Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap, Iselin Handicap, Woodward Stakes, Meadowlands Cup and the BC Classic. He was ridden in 17 consecutive starts by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, and until Cigar came along, Alysheba was the racing's leading money-winner with more than $6.6 million.

Kathy Hopkins, director of equine operations at the horse park, said Alysheba fell due to a chronic degenerative spinal condition.

"Complicated by his advanced age, this trauma resulted in severe pain," Hopkins said. "The resulting pain and suffering, and the inability to stand unaided, led to a joint decision for euthanasia."

McCarron said last fall October that he was thrilled the horse would live his final days at the horse park in the stall once occupied by another thoroughbred great, John Henry.

"He's the most talented horse I ever rode," said McCarron. "He and John Henry were substantially a part of the success I enjoyed as a jockey. They helped put Chris McCarron's name on the map because they both had such tremendous following around the country."

Alysheba is the second champion horse to be euthanized in the past two weeks. Lil E. Tee, who upset heavily favored Arazi to win the 1992 Kentucky Derby, was put down at Old Frankfort Stud in Lexington on March 18 at age 20. The chestnut colt had become ill following an operation to repair an obstructed bowel.