01/31/2006 1:00AM

Brave Raj, '86 champion, dies after losing foal


Brave Raj, North America's juvenile filly champion in 1986, died Jan. 28 in Lexington, Ky.

The 22-year-old mare had lost her Gulch foal on Jan. 21 but initially seemed to be recovering from that difficult birth. But she became unable to stand, probably because of a broken blood vessel, said Barry Ezrine, farm manager at Patchen Wilkes Farm, where Brave Raj lived.

Brave Raj raced just one season but made the most of it, winning six of her nine starts in 1986. Campaigned by Dolly Green and trained for most of her career by Mel Stute, Brave Raj took her debut by 7 1/2 lengths, lost her next two starts, then rebounded to take the next five with authority. Those races included the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, in which she beat Tappiano, as well as the Grade 2 Del Mar Debutante and the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes. She retired at the end of her championship season with a record of 6-1-0 from 9 starts and $933,650 in earnings. Warren Rosenthal's Patchen Wilkes purchased her at the 1987 Keeneland November breeding stock sale for $500,000.

Brave Raj, a daughter of Rajab and the Bravo mare Bravest Yet, spent her entire breeding career at Patchen Wilkes. She produced 14 foals, of whom 11 started and 10 became winners. Her two stakes-winners were Russian Tango and Bravo Bull.

"She passed her toughness on to her foals," Ezrine said of Brave Raj, "and they could be hard to handle, but that's what made them good racehorses."