03/17/2005 1:00AM

Criminal Type dies at 20; was 1990 Horse of Year


Criminal Type, 1990's Horse of the Year, died of a stomach rupture in Japan on March 9, just weeks before he was to be pensioned at a Kentucky equine retirement facility. A son of Alydar, he was 20.

Michael Blowen, who operates the Old Friends equine retirement facility at Hurstland Farm in Midway, Ky., announced the death.

Blowen and other Old Friends supporters, working through bloodstock agent Emmanuel de Seroux, had secured a commitment from the Japanese Thoroughbred Club and Shintaro Otsuka to donate Criminal Type after the current Japanese breeding season. But Blowen received an e-mail Wednesday morning from Megumi Igarashi, the Japanese representative of de Seroux's Narvick International agency, informing him that Criminal Type had died.

Otsuka called veterinarians to examine the horse after he was found lying in his stall, Igarashi wrote, but the veterinarians determined that the horse was unlikely to survive treatment.

"I contacted the vet, and he said the gastric rupture, because of gastric perforation, was the cause of his death," Igarashi wrote. "We are sorry for this. Mr. Otsuka said that Criminal Type's end was a peaceful death."

Blowen said Old Friends would install a memorial to Criminal Type at Hurstland Farm.

Criminal Type was one of the last homebreds to race for Calumet before the farm declined into bankruptcy and was sold at auction to the late Henryk de Kwiatkowski. Out of the Grade 2-winning No Robbery mare Klepto, Criminal Type started his career in France, where he won just once in five starts. Sent to D. Wayne Lukas in California for the 1989 season, the 4-year-old began to emerge as a star late in the season, winning a Hollywood allowance by five lengths that December.

In 1990, sent into Grade 1 company for the first time in the Santa Anita Handicap, he finished second. Criminal Type earned his first Grade 1 in that year's Pimlico Special, winning in track-record time.

Criminal Type went on to defeat Housebuster, the year's champion sprinter, and 1988 juvenile champion Easy Goer in the Metropolitan Handicap, as well as beating 1989 Horse of the Year Sunday Silence and future Breeders' Cup Mile winner Opening Verse in the Hollywood Gold Cup. The last victory of his Horse of the Year season came in the Whitney, which he won over multiple Grade 1 winner Dancing Spree. He retired with a lifetime record of 24-10-5-3 and $2,351,274 in earnings.

As a sire, Criminal Type got six stakes winners before being exported to Japan in 1992. At his death, he had progeny earnings of more than $19 million.