05/07/2009 11:00PM

Gone West to be pensioned

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Gone West, a Grade 1 winner who went on to sire champions, will be pensioned at the end of this breeding season, Mill Ridge Farm announced Friday. The 25-year-old Mr. Prospector horse is showing signs of age-related decrease in fertility .

"Regretfully, Gone West's fertility has diminished drastically this year with only five mares in foal from 27 possibilities," said Mill Ridge managing partner Headley Bell. "Towards the end of April, Dr. Dickson Varner, fertility specialist with Texas A&M, collected Gone West, and the results indicated a significant deterioration in semen quality and sperm output in comparison with December 2008 and December 2007.

"We have a few mares who stayed on his book, so we are going to finish up this year and then retire him for the future."

Gone West, a son of the stakes-winning Secretariat mare Secrettame, won the Grade 1 Dwyer and the Grade 2 Gotham and Withers stakes in 1987. He also placed in five other stakes, including the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and the Whitney Handicap, also in 1987. He earned $682,251.

As a stallion, Gone West got champion sprinter Speightstown, European champion Zafonic, German champion Royal Abjar, and Trinidad and Tobago's champion imported sprinter Gone Prospecting. He also is the sire of 2000 Belmont winner Commendable and 2003 Breeders' Cup Turf winner Johar, also a Mill Ridge stallion. And he sired popular two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Da Hoss, who won the race in 1996 and 1998 after recovering from serious injury. Other Grade 1 winners by Gone West include multiple Grade 1 winner Came Home, Marsh Side, Lassigny, West By West, and Grand Slam.

A number of his sons also went on to successful stud careers of their own, marking Gone West as a sire of sires. Among these are Speightstown, Mr. Greeley, Elusive Quality, Grand Slam, and Proud Citizen, as well as overseas sires Zamindar, Zafonic, and Western Winter.

Gone West was North America's third-leading sire in 1995 and also led England's broodmare sire list in 2005. He stood this year for $65,000.

"He has left his mark on the Thoroughbred breed, and it has been an honor to associate with him all these years," Bell said. "On behalf of my mother, Alice Chandler, and all of us at Mill Ridge, I would like to express our appreciation to all his shareholders and breeders who supported him."