10/23/2008 11:00PM

Alysheba back home in the U.S.A.


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Alysheba is healthy and preparing for his Oct. 31 official Bluegrass reunion.

The 1988 Horse of the Year returned to Kentucky Oct. 17 after an eight-year stay in Saudi Arabia, where he was a breeding stallion at King Abdullah's Janadria Farm. Before that, he had been on the stallion roster at Lane's End in Versailles, Ky., where he started his stud career after retiring from racing as the sport's then leading money earner, with $6,679,242.

During his championship seasons in 1987 and 1988, he racked up wins in nine Grade 1 races. He won the 1987 Derby and Preakness, lost by a nose to Ferdinand in that year's Breeders' Cup Classic, then came back to win the Classic the following year, beating Seeking the Gold. Now his fans are celebrating his return and filling Kentucky Horse Park in-boxes with e-mails and voicemails, wanting to know how the grand old horse, now 24, is doing.

He's doing fine, according to the park's equine operations director, Kathy Hopkins, who has been caring for the stallion at a farm near the park since he landed at Bluegrass Airport.

"What can you say about greatness?" she e-mailed when asked to describe Alysheba. Hopkins said when the stallion stepped off the plane he looked at the pasture land that adjoins the airstrip "and took a deep sigh."

If their e-mails and letters to the Horse Park are any indication, his fans also are breathing a sigh, relieved to know the old champion was never in danger of meeting the sad fate of Ferdinand and Exceller, who both died in slaughterhouses overseas. Park officials report he received excellent care at Janadria.

"I have been caring for him at his temporary Lexington home while he rests from his 40-day adventure of quarantine and flight," Hopkins wrote. "He looks amazingly good for his age and the journey that he has just made."

Hopkins says Alysheba "still has the look of an eagle in his eyes and a glossy, healthy coat. His only concessions to the 24 years are a little loss of weight and a slight wobble to his gait. He enjoys being hand-walked and grazing three times a day. He loves to be groomed and be the center of attention, but always on his terms."

The grazing sessions, according to park marketing official Cindy Rullman, last only about 10 minutes each. That's to prevent the onset of colic or other problems related to a hasty switch from the "zero grazing conditions" that Janadria Farm's website describes as one of the "management challenges" in Saudi Arabia's desert climate. Alysheba has not forgotten about grass, though.

"He would gaze at the grass and make chewing motions with his lips," Hopkins wrote of the stallion's first day back in Kentucky.

Alysheba has had a few visitors since his return. Park veterinarian Dr. Mike Beyer has examined him, and Hall of Champions director Cathy Roby has paid several visits to meet her barn's newest resident. She reports that Alysheba's famously engaging personality is still very much in evidence.

Alysheba's fans will get the chance to see that for themselves on Oct. 31, when the park hosts his official welcome at the Hall of Champions at 1:15 p.m. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

Adena, Ramsey cut stud fees

Adena Springs and Ramsey Farm in Kentucky have announced some stud fee reductions for 2009.

Adena's Kentucky facility will reduce its fees for stallions North Light ($15,000), Touch Gold ($15,000), and Giacomo ($10,000), though Macho Uno will go up from $20,000 to $30,000. Adena Springs South in Florida has reduced fees for Aristocrat ($3,500), Alphabet Soup ($7,500), Greatness ($3,000), Red Bullet ($7,500), and Sligo Bay ($5,000). Adena Springs South also will introduce Showing Up at $7,500.

Ramsey Farm will trim Kitten's Joy's fee to $20,000 and drop Catienus to $10,000 in 2009. The pair stood for $30,000 and $15,000, respectively, in 2008.

w The 2001 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal died Oct. 17 in Brazil of an apparent hemorrhage. The Royal Academy horse was 12. He sired Cockney Rebel, winner of the English and Irish 2000 Guineas in 2007, and multiple graded winner Valbenny.

w Siphonizer, a Grade 2 winner bred by Bereton C. Jones , has retired to Old Friends in Georgetown, Ky. Trainer Steve Asmussen claimed the 7-year-old Siphon gelding for $4,000 on Oct. 19 for Maggi Moss, who was representing a group interested in retiring him. Siphonizer will reside at Chestnut Farm in Versailles, Ky., until Old Friends raises funds to complete a fenced paddock for him.

w Woodford Racing will disperse 14 horses from its first partnership at the Keeneland November sale, which runs from Nov. 3-17. The consignment will include Canadian Grade 3 runner Sprung, Canadian stakes winners Quiet Action and Approval Rating, and $738,000 earner Legal Move.