07/09/2001 12:00AM

Demons Begone dead at 17

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Grade 1 winner Demons Begone, sire of graded stakes winners and major earners Danville and Flitch, died on July 4 at Ron and Nina Hagen's El Dorado Farm in Enumclaw, Wash., after a ruptured abdominal aorta. He was 17.

Demons Begone (Elocutionist-Rowdy Angel, by Halo), was a half-brother to Preakness Stakes winner Pine Bluff and to Angel Fever, dam of Fusaichi Pegasus. He covered about 45 mares this year.

"We heard a noise from the stallion barn and ran in, and he took his last breath right in front of us," said Nina Hagen. "It was a shock."

A promising juvenile who was beaten a nose by Polish Navy in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, Demons Begone came back the following year as a Triple Crown contender. Campaigned by Loblolly Stable and trained by Phil Hauswald, Demons Begone spent the spring of 1987 profitably in Arkansas. He mopped up his competition there, winning his seasonal debut in the Southwest Stakes by eight lengths, his next start in the Rebel Stakes by four, and finally capturing the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby by 3 1/2.

But the 1987 Kentucky Derby became the colt's best-remembered race for its unhappy ending: Racing down the Churchill backstretch as the race favorite, Demons Begone bled profusely from both nostrils and jockey Pat Day pulled him up. At 4, Demons Begone won his season-opener in allowance company back at Oaklawn, then finished third in the Grade 2 Razorback Handicap. He retired less than a month later after being eased during the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap. From a record of 14-7-2-1, he earned $609,944.

The Hagens purchased Demons Begone in late 1996 from Loblolly owner John Ed Anthony, who had stood the stallion at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., since 1988.