Updated on 01/17/2016 4:00PM

Champion sprinter Gulch dies at 32


Gulch, a Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award winner and the sire of a Kentucky Derby winner, was euthanized Sunday at the Old Friends Equine Retirement in Georgetown, Ky. due to complications from cancer. He was 32.

A foal of 1984, Gulch was a standout throughout his three seasons of racing, winning 13 of 32 starts and $3,095,521. A seven-time Grade 1 winner, including back-to-back runnings of the Met Mile (1987-88), his crowning achievement came in his career finale, when he rallied to win the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Sprint under Angel Cordero Jr. The Breeders’ Cup victory earned him the Eclipse for top sprinter that year.

Gulch, by Mr. Prospector out of Jameela, was bred and owned by industrialist Peter M. Brant. He was trained at 2 and 3 by Leroy Jolley and at 4 by D. Wayne Lukas.

As a sire who stood for 21 years at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky., easily his most accomplished son or daughter was Thunder Gulch, the 1995 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner en route to earning that year’s champion 3-year-old male honors. Thunder Gulch, himself the leading sire of 2001, now resides as a pensioner at Ashford Stud in Versailles.

Gulch’s more than 70 stakes winners at stud also included Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Court Vision, English One Thousand Guineas winner Harayir, Grade/Group 1 winners Nayaef, Eagle Cafe, The Cliff’s Edge, and Wallenda (also an Old Friends resident), as well as Grade 2 winner Scrimshaw, who ran third in the 2003 Preakness Stakes.

After being pensioned because of declining fertility in December 2009 to Old Friends, he became one of the most celebrated retirees at the farm. Old Friends founder Michael Blowen often spoke glowingly of the horse’s kind demeanor and how he thrived on all the attention bestowed on him by a steady stream of admiring visitors.

This message was posted Sunday on the Old Friends Facebook page: “Sad, sad news today: Gulch has died. The great Breeders' Cup champion was euthanized this morning and we already miss him more than we can say. Thanks to all his friends and fans who have visited him over these many years.

 “Gulch, it was an honor and a privilege.”

- additional reporting by Joe Nevills