06/08/2017 12:20PM

Holy Bull dead at 26

Barbara D. Livingston
Holy Bull earned nearly $2.5 million in 16 career starts.

Holy Bull, a Hall of Famer, the 1994 Horse of the Year, and a prominent sire, was euthanized Wednesday at Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum’s Darley America base at Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky., due to the infirmities of old age. He was 26.

The son of Great Above resided at Jonabell Farm since his retirement from racing in 1995, and he was pensioned from stallion duty at the end of the 2012 breeding season. He will be buried at the farm.

“If you were putting together your fantasy horse stable for the last 25 years, you’d have to have Holy Bull in your top five,” said Godolphin’s Jimmy Bell, whose family owned Jonabell Farm prior to Sheikh Mohammed’s purchase in 2001. “Horses like Holy Bull just don’t come along that often.”

Holy Bull was bred in Florida by Rachel Carpenter’s Pelican Stable, whose runners were trained by Warren A. “Jimmy” Croll Jr. since 1957. Carpenter left her stable to Croll upon her death in 1993, including a 2-year-old Holy Bull.

Croll campaigned Holy Bull as both owner and trainer over his three seasons of racing. He won his first five races, first going undefeated at age 2, highlighted by victories in the Grade 1 Futurity Stakes at Belmont and the Florida Stallion In Reality Stakes at Calder.

:: Lifetime PPs for Holy Bull

Holy Bull stepped into prominence at age 3. Wins in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes, Grade 1 Florida Derby, and Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes made him the favorite in the 1994 Kentucky Derby, where he finished 12th to Go for Gin.

The colt never lost again at 3, coming back against older competition to win the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, then rolling out wins in the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes, Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, Grade 1 Travers, and Grade 1 Woodward. The campaign earned him Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male honors in 1994.

Holy Bull returned at 4 with a win in the Olympic Handicap at Gulfstream Park, then faced the then-relatively unknown Cigar in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, but he did not finish after straining ligaments in his left foreleg, prompting his retirement. The colt finished with 13 wins in 16 starts for earnings of $2,481,760.

At stud, Holy Bull sired 18 crops, with 703 winners and progeny earnings in excess of $61.7 million. His best runners included champion Macho Uno, 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, and Grade 1 winners Flashy Bull, Confessional, Bishop Court Hill, and Pohave.