09/30/2015 8:40AM

Champion Soaring Softly dies at age 20

Barbara D. Livingston
Soaring Softly wins the inaugural Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 1999 at Gulfstream Park.

Champion Soaring Softly, winner of the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, died Tuesday following a paddock accident at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, Ky. She was 20.

The Kris S. mare was bred and campaigned by Darby Dan’s Galbreath/Phillips Racing Partnership and resided at Darby Dan throughout her broodmare career. She was a half sister to Grade 1 winner Plenty of Grace and five additional stakes producers, out of Grade 3 winner Wings of Grace.

Soaring Softly was a winner at two, then returned to take the debut start of her 3-year-old campaign. She was then put into Grade 1 company, finishing out of the money in the Acorn Stakes and Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont, both on dirt, before taking a five-month hiatus and returning in allowance races at Aqueduct.

The filly was put on the turf to start her 4-year-old campaign, and quickly found herself, winning seven of eight starts in 1999, all on the grass. After allowance wins at Gulfstream Park and Keeeneland, Soaring Softly up to listed stakes company with a win in the Vineland Handicap at Garden State Park, then earned Grade 2 wins in the Sheepshead Bay Handicap and New York Handicap at Belmont.

She suffered her only defeat on the turf in the Grade 2 Diana Handicap, then followed up with a win in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap.

Soaring Softly left the gate as the post-time favorite in the first running of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park, and rallied four-wide under jockey Jerry Bailey to catch runner-up Coretta by three-quarters of a length. The effort clinched Eclipse Award honors as champion turf female.

Soaring Softly was retired at the end of her 4-year-old season with a minor tissue strain, compiling nine wins in 16 starts for earnings of $1,270,433. Jimmy Toner trained her throughout her on-track career.

As a broodmare, Soaring Softly produced 10 foals, with five winners from seven runners. Leading the group was stakes-winner Much Rejoicing, by Distorted Humor, and stakes-placed Shine Softly, by Aldebaran. Her foals were capable of making noise at auction, including the $700,000 Gone West colt On Eagles Wings, the $500,000 Aldebaran colt Bernulli, and the $385,000 Much Rejoicing.

Soaring Softly had been bred to Ghostzapper for the 2016 foaling season. Her final foal was a Medaglia d’Oro filly who is a yearling of 2015.

Her broodmare line has been best carried on by Seeking the Gold mare Seek to Soar, whose three winners from five foals to race include multiple stakes winner Spring to the Sky and stakes-placed Ennobled Friend and Mr Know It All.