07/08/2017 7:46AM

Grade 1 winner Bonapaw dies at 21

Coady Photography
Bonapaw earned $1.16 million during eight seasons of racing.

Bonapaw, a Grade 1-winning sprinter, was euthanized Friday at Old Friends Equine Retirement in Georgetown, Ky., due to complications caused by equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), a neurological disease. He was 21.

The gelded son of Sabona had resided at Old Friends since March 2009.

Bred in Kentucky by Dr. William Reed, Bonapaw sold to owner James Richard Sr. for $6,500 at the 1997 Keeneland September yearling sale. He was put in the barn of trainer Donald Hecker and won his maiden in Louisiana in his fourth start as a juvenile.

At age 3, Bonapaw won the Inaugural Handicap at Evangeline Downs. He then moved to the barn of trainer Howard Alonzo and scored wins at age 4 in the Island Whirl Handicap at Louisiana Downs and the Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds.

As a 5-year-old, Bonapaw won the Pelleteri Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Fair Grounds and then got his first graded stakes win in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint at Oaklawn Park. Later in the year, he won the Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows and scored a repeat win in the Thanksgiving Handicap.

With new trainer Norman Miller III the following year, Bonapaw won the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup Handicap and Arlington Sprint Handicap at Arlington Park and reached the apex of his career with a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park.

Bonapaw was retired at age 9 due to breathing issues. He finished his career with 18 wins in 49 starts for earnings of $1,158,752. He recorded 12 stakes wins over eight seasons of racing and placed in nine additional graded stakes races.

The gelding was donated to Old Friends by James Richards Jr., the son and nephew of James Sr. and Dennis Richards, the brothers who campaigned Bonapaw for the bulk of his career.

"We are so grateful to have had these years with Bonapaw," said Old Friends president Michael Blowen. "He was a great racehorse, and he meant so much to his owners as well as all of his many fans. Jamie even donated Bonapaw's Vosburgh Trophy to us, and we will cherish it always."