09/29/2016 5:11PM

1997 champion Hidden Lake dies at 23


Hidden Lake, the champion older female of 1997, was euthanized Thursday morning at Old Friends Equine Retirement in Georgetown, Ky., due to the infirmities of old age.

A 23-year-old daughter of Quiet American, Hidden Lake had resided at Old Friends since 2009, when she was donated by then-owner Robert S. Evans.

Bred in Kentucky by Charles Nuckols and Sons, Hidden Lake was a $13,000 purchase out of the 1994 Keeneland September yearling sale by Jim Weir and his son Dennis, who campaigned Hidden Lake for the bulk of her career with trainer Walter Greenman.

In that time, Hidden Lake earned a pair of stakes placings as a juvenile in Southern California, then returned in the spring of her 3-year-old campaign to win a Santa Anita allowance and finish third in the Grade 3 Santa Ynez Stakes and the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes and Santa Anita Oaks in succession. She finished her 3-year-old season with a win in the Grade 2 La Brea Stakes.

Jim Weir died in the fall of 1996, and Hidden Lake was sold in the spring of the following year to Robert Clay and Tracy Farmer, and placed with trainer John Kimmel.  

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The filly finished second in her first start for her new owners in the Grade 3 Humana Distaff Handicap, then won her next four starts: the Grade 2 Shuvee Handicap, Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap, Go for Wand Stakes, and Beldame Stakes. Her final career start came in the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Hollywood Park, where she finished seventh, but her body of work was enough to earn her that year’s older female Eclipse Award.

Hidden Lake retired with 7 wins in 22 career starts for earnings of $947,489.

"Hidden Lake defined bravery, determination, and courage," said Old Friends board member Barbara Fossum, who cared for the mare regularly at the farm. "She was dignified and generous to those who loved her, demanding and all heart. She personified everything an Eclipse champion should be."

Hidden Lake went on to an unheralded broodmare career, producing four winners from seven runners, and none to win or place in stakes competition. However, her Danzig filly Milago went on to become a stakes producer.

The mare sold to Evans in foal to Distorted Humor for $525,000 at the 2009 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale. However, difficulties carrying foals to term made that ensuing filly, named Long Lake, the only foal she would have for Evans, and her final foal overall.

"Hidden Lake was all class, especially at the end," said Old Friends founder and president Michael Blowen. "Her courage and fortitude were unmatched while on the track and off."