08/07/2013 6:00PM

Hall of Fame profile: Housebuster

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Barbara D. Livingston
Housebuster was voted champion sprinter in both 1990 and 1991 despite never winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Housebuster was one of the best sprinters of his time, and he validated that by garnering back-to-back honors as champion male sprinter of 1990 and 1991. An oddity, though, is that he was able to earn the title both years without the benefit of winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Bred in Kentucky by Murphy Stable and the late Blanche Levy, the 1987 son of Mt. Livermore out of Big Dreams, by Great Above, boasted a speed-on-speed pedigree. He looked the part from Day 1, and future Hall of Fame trainer Warren A. “Jimmy” Croll Jr. handled him accordingly for Levy’s son, Robert, ignoring the 1990 classics and never asking him to race beyond a mile. There was no need to.

Housebuster proved easy to train, easy to ride – controllable and ratable, despite an explosive turn of foot when called upon. Through a magnificent three-season, 22-race career, the dark bay won 15 times, with 14 of those tallies coming in stakes company and three in Grade 1 events – the 1990 Jerome Handicap (by 13 lengths) and the 1991 Vosburgh Stakes and Carter Handicap. Through one six-month span, he strung together eight straight victories, including seven black-type scores, with an average winning margin of nearly 4 1/2 lengths. Jockey Craig Perret referred to him then as a “superhorse” at any distance up to and including a flat mile.

Although Housebuster failed to win a championship-defining Breeders’ Cup Sprint – a lung infection sidelined him in 1990, and he broke down in the 1991 renewal – that simply did not matter. There was never a question as to who America’s best short-fused runner was during those two golden seasons.

After ravaging his left forefoot at the start of the 1991 Sprint, then tearing a suspensory after trying to run on that initial injury, Housebuster was vanned off the famed Churchill Downs homestretch on Nov. 2 with earnings of $1,229,696 and promising prospects as a future sire.

Considering both his racing and stud careers, he became one of the most well-traveled of equines, winning stakes at nine North American racetracks, then pulling tours of stud duty in two hemispheres, four countries, and three different states, beginning at Jonabell Farm in Kentucky in 1992. A moderate success, he eventually sired 39 stakes winners from 605 lifetime starters, his best being 2002 Hong Kong Horse of the Year Electronic Unicorn and five-furlong English Group 1 winner Bahamian Pirate. Like their sire, his best runners were sprinters and milers.
Housebuster shuttled to Argentina and New Zealand and stood several seasons in Japan before returning to the United States for the 2002 season. He died unexpectedly on May 15, 2005, at a clinic near Charles Town, W.Va.

Pedigree: 1987, dk. b. or br. h., by Mt. Livermore—Big Dreams, by Great Above
Breeder: Murphy Stable and Blanche P. Levy (Ky.)
Owner: Robert P. Levy
Trainers: Warren A. Croll Jr.; Ronald L. Benshoff (first three starts)
Race record: 22-15-3-1, $1,229,696
Championships: Sprinter twice (1990, 1991)
Graded stakes wins: Carter H. (G1), Vosburgh S. (G1), Jerome H. (G1), Withers S. (G2), Forego H. (G2), Sheridan S. (G3), Hutcheson S. (G3), King’s Bishop S. (G3), Derby Trial S. (G3), Lafayette S. (G3), Swale S. (G3)