Last year, we lost 8 stallions, a big cool-down after the loss of 17 stallions in 2023 but still a considerable number. Special condolences to Ivy Creek Farm, who 2 lost stallions.
It is worth noting we lost both our standing Rainbow Crystal sons last year; thankfully GCh. Tense Imagination recently qualified to fill the void upon his retirement.
NCh. Bear Witness, 2014 gray stallion
Lost far too soon, Bear Witness only produced 4 crops before his retirement. His oldest crop just turned 3, and so far three winners have emerged. Bear Witness enjoyed victories in the G1 Manhattan Handicap and G1 Cox Plate, setting 2 speed records over turf, but won multiple stakes races on dirt and turf. He was the first Witness son to stand at stud. Bear Witness did best at 3, 4, and 5 years of age, so here’s to hoping as his foals age they inherit their father’s speed. We can only hope a worthy son will emerge to carry on his line.
ICh. Candidate, 2005 black stallion
A staple in FF, the loss of Candidate was a large blow. He stood for 14 years, siring 30 MSW’s and over 50 stakes winners. His legacy is secured through countless broodmares (he is silver-ranked as a broodmare sire), and his standing son GCh. Turnpike Wannabe. The 2008 Kentucky Derby winner will be missed, even as we watch his final batch of weanlings hit the ground this year.
ICh. City Upon a Hill, 2014 chestnut stallion
Another who went too soon, the 3-time G1 winner produced 6 crops before his retirement. So far, his runners include MSW Ch. An Educated Guess. Earning $3.4 million on the track, City Upon A Hill specialized in dirt sprints but managed stakes scores on the turf and carried his speed over a mile to take the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes. At the moment, the hope for an heir will come as his foals continue to age.
ICh. Demand the Best, 2011 chestnut stallion
Only one of three Rainbow Quest stallions to enter stud, and the very first to do so. Demand the Best was a turf monster on the track, setting two speed records and winning 5 G1’s including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and 4 different Breeders’ Series races over the course of his career (he won 2 of 3 legs in the 2015 turf division). At stud, he produced 4 MSW’s – all daughters – and a male heir does not look immediately likely.
ICh. Gunningdownromance, 2007 chestnut stallion
FF felt the passing of another staple when Gunningdownromance died last April. On the track, he was ever dirt specialist’s dream with 10 G1 wins including the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes, back-to-back wins in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Champagne Stakes, and more. Silver-ranked, Gunningdownromance has so far sired over 20 MSW’s, though no clear male heir yet. One son of note is Hidden Orchestra who won 3 stakes at 3, including his G1 requirement. Gunningdownromance covered a dozen mares before his passing and those foals are expected over the next few months.
GCh. One Lucky Soul, 2011 chestnut stallion
One of those stallions who was not necessarily flashy, but solid. One Lucky Soul was named 2013 2yo Colt Champion and went on to win the G1 Dubai World Cup in record time. He has sired 3 MSW’s at stud, and it does not appear he will likely have a son to carry on the line. One Lucky Soul was the only son of My Lucky Day to qualify for stud.
Player, 2007 dark bay stallion
Another familiar face in the stud market, Player entered stud in late FF2013, producing over a dozen SW’s and 9 MSW’s to date. On the track, he came into his own at 5, scoring 4 of his 5 G1 wins that season, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Dubai Sheema Classic. His current 3 and 4yo’s consist of a number of SP runners, so we can only hope they also bloom with age as their sire had done. His passing marks the potential end of the Romeo male line.
GCh. Zadar, 2014 dark bay stallion
Zadar managed stakes wins on dirt and turf and across all distances, securing his stud status with the G1 Arlington Classic. Zadar was only the second son of What’s Your Point to qualify for stud (the first being NCh. Run Jenny Run), and only leaves behind 4 crops of foals. By far, Zadar’s best season came at 3 and his oldest crop has just turned 3, so we can only hope for good things from what appear to be slow-burning runners.