05/12/2014 7:51AM

Crusader Sword, Grade 1 winner and pensioned sire, dies at 29


Crusader Sword, a Grade 1 winner for the late Paul Mellon's legendary Rokeby Stables, died due to the infirmities of old age May 10 at Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division near Greenfield Center, N.Y. The son of Damascus was 29.

Crusader Sword had resided at the Old Friends satellite facility since late summer 2010, after being pensioned from stud duties. He spent the last several years of his stud career at Foggy Bottom Farm in Geneseo, N.Y.

Carrying the colors of Rokeby and trained by Mack Miller, Crusader Sword enjoyed his best season as a juvenile in 1987, winning three of five starts, including the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes and the Grade 2 Saratoga Special. He finished third in his other two starts that year, including the Grade 1 Futurity Stakes.

Crusader Sword raced through his 4-year-old season, finishing third in the Grade 2 Tom Fool Stakes in 1989. He retired with six wins from 21 career starts for a bankroll of $327,476.

Crusader Sword entered stud in 1990, first standing at Mockingbird Farm in Florida, and later moving to New York, where he stood at Questroyal Stud and Metropolitan Stud before moving to Foggy Bottom. In all, he sired 277 winners from his 20 crops, with 16 stakes winners. His progeny earned over $18 million.

Crusader Sword's top earner was millionaire Isitingood, who captured six stakes races, including the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes. The Grade 1-placed horse established a then-world record time of 1:32.05 for one mile on turf at Santa Anita in 1997, and also set multiple track records.

The sire's other domestic graded stakes winner was the ill-fated Tin Cup Chalice, who swept New York's Big Apple Triple for 3-year-olds in 2008 and then captured the Grade 2 Indiana Derby against open company. He was honored as New York's champion 3-year-old male for that campaign.

Bred by Mellon in Virginia, Crusader Sword was out of the Grade 1-placed Nijinsky II mare Copernica, who finished second to the peerless Ruffian in the Grade 3 Fashion Stakes as a juvenile. Copernica was also the dam of French stakes winner Copper Butterfly and stakes-placed winner Latin Lyric. It is the family of Grade 1 winners Cherokee Colony and Turk Passer, and of Canadian champion Silken Cat, dam of champion and prominent sire Speightstown.

Crusader Sword was buried at Old Friends at Cabin Creek.