September 22, 2009

Irish Eyes are Crying - El Prado dies

El Prado (IRE), the 20 year-old son of Great Britain and Ireland's sire of sires - Saddler's Wells, was found dead yesterday morning in his stall from apparent heart failure at Frank Stronach's Adena Springs. And while it is not uncommon for me to eulogize some of racing's greatest equine athletes on this blog, many of you may have thought that "El Prado" was Spanish for Mr. Edgar Prado, jockey of Barbaro. Since he raced exclusively in Ireland in 1991, most Americans were not familiar with his talent but would certainly recognize his successful sons who raced in the States, led by major purse earner of nearly $6 million including Oaklawn Handicap, Medaglia d'Oro, and turf champion Kitten's Joy. But make no mistake, after this racing season El Prado is best known for the title "Grandpa of Greatness" as the paternal grandsire of Rachel Alexandra.

The legendary Irish spirit of El Prado was best known to me through his alabaster offspring - Chindi. One of El Prado's first born, the Steve Hobby conditioned hard-knocking gelding captivated Oaklawn audiences throughout his 11 year-old season with his patented stretch rally, once winning Oaklawn's only graded sprint stakes - the Count Fleet Stakes - en route to $1 million in career earnings. Chindi has got to be one of the top favorites of Oaklawn's iconic track announcer, Terry Wallace.

I can't end this post without giving condolences to someone desperately in need of cheer, the embattled owner of bankrupt Magna Entertainment and founder of Adena Springs Stud Farm - Frank Stronach. In fact, El Prado was a risk when Mr. Stronach chose a relatively obscure Irish bred horse to be the foundation of what would become a five-time consecutive Eclipse dynasty for breeding operation.

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