Updated on 07/10/2012 1:07PM

Holy Bull pensioned from stud duty

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EQUI-PHOTO
Holy Bull wins the 1994 Haskell on his way to Horse of the Year honors.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Darley has pensioned 1994 Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Holy Bull, sire of 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and 2000 juvenile champion Macho Uno, from stud duty.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s organization announced the retirement early Sunday morning.

The Great Above horse is 21 and was retired due to the infirmities of old age and waning fertility, Darley’s Charlie Boden said. Holy Bull stood at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, where he bred 17 mares in 2012. Eleven, so far, are reported in foal.

Holy Bull started his stud career at Darley in 1995 and became part of the Darley roster when Maktoum purchased the 750-acre farm in 2001, the same year Holy Bull was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In addition to getting Giacomo and Macho Uno, Holy Bull also sired Grade 1 winners Flashy Bull, Confessional, Bishop Court Hill, and Pohave; Italian champion Dream Chief, and numerous other graded winners. His runners this year include Japanese stakes winner In Orario.

Holy Bull won 13 of his 16 lifetime starts. Undefeated at 2, he won the 1993 Grade 1 Futurity over Dehere to earn the first of six lifetime Grade 1 victories. He was voted champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year in 1994 after a season featuring wins in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, Metropolitan Handicap, Haskell Invitational, Travers Stakes, and Woodward Stakes. He also won the Grade 2 Hutcheson, Blue Grass Stakes, and Dwyer Stakes that season.

Along the way, Holy Bull achieved massive popularity as a sort of blue-collar hero for trainer Warren “Jimmy” Croll, who inherited the horse when longtime Croll client Rachel Carpenter of Pelican Stables died in 1993. Carpenter had bequeathed 19 horses to the trainer, and he sold all but Holy Bull.

The front-running gray colt’s only losses as a 3-year-old were in the Fountain of Youth, in which he finished sixth behind Dehere, and the Kentucky Derby. Holy Bull was favored for the Derby, but finished 12th behind Go For Gin on a sloppy track. Croll later said he believed the colt had been drugged by opponents, though nothing ever came of the accusation. Croll, a Hall of Famer himself, died in 2008 at age 88.

Holy Bull’s last race was the 1995 Donn Handicap, in which he pulled up after injuring himself. The eventual winner of the race was Cigar, who won the fourth of what would become a 16-race win streak.

“He was so good, he was not a specialist,” Darley America president Jimmy Bell said in the organization’s announcement of Holy Bull’s pensioning. “Short. Grass. Long. Dirt. Pick your best five horses. He could run with any of them.”

Carpenter bred Holy Bull, a striking gray, from the Al Hattab mare Sharon Brown, also the dam of the stakes-placed Crafty Prospector filly Winnie D.

Holy Bull stood for $10,000 this year at Jonabell for his owners, the Croll family and J. Mack Robinson.