Updated on 07/10/2012 1:07PM

Holy Bull pensioned from stud duty

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.

Carolyn Cleary More than 1 year ago
I got to see Holy Bull in person in 2000, he was beautiful such a great horse. I am so glad he is at Jonabell farms as Affirmed was also retired there and they were taking great care of both horses..
Joe More than 1 year ago
He was my favorite hourse to ever won and the only loss he ever had when he didn't break down in the middle of the race was the Derby,
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Looks like a Cigar fan needs to kick this nice ol' Racehorse. Shame you can't like them both - - - jerk.
Mother More than 1 year ago
a greathorse may time be kind to him. i thought he left the track prematurely .today that race still pains me.yes and i also agree he beats cigar in the donn handicap. love you holy bull! enjoy your retirement.
Kevin Guthrie More than 1 year ago
He stopped loving her today.
Donna Hathaway More than 1 year ago
Holy Bull will always be one of my all-time favorite horses, one of a kind and as full of heart as they get. I hope he has a long and happy retirement.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
I wonder if anyone will ever know just how tough this Horse is...
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
AND I gotta wonder why Holy Bull, as a beaten favorite, was not tested after that '94 Derby??? I read also that Mike Smith rode Giacomo - son of Holy Bull.
paul cervenan More than 1 year ago
For someone discharged from the Armed Services in 1972, and a racing fan, you should have seen Mick Smith ride Giacomo for Jon Shirreffs , Jerry and Ann Moss to win the 2005 Kentucky Derby, he was only 50/1? Why would you have to read it? Your correct, Mick Smith, rode both horses.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
You're tracking me kinda close. Don't know how I feel about that, but I missed Dr Fager and a Bunch of others... Never said how bad my memory was did I ? When you get to be mid-sixties you say 'Oh Yeah, I remember that" alot!
Holybull More than 1 year ago
Yeap. Very few.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He cost me the pick 6 that day. I needed Concern. But his run up the backstretch was so compelling that I can remember holding him in my binocs until about the 16th pole when I realized my wife was pounding on my arm. She was watching Concern make his move and thought he would get there. I have a picture - autographed - of the moment on the wire. Something I will never forget...or get over!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I should note that I refer to the Travers Stakes.
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
Great race that day. Hope you had Concern that year in the BC Classic.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Holy Bull is a very talented champion horse and sire. I have always been taken with how unusual his coloring is and how striking he looks in photographs - the highs and lows in his coloring contrast vividly in photos. I hope the Croll family and J. Mack Robinson will take very good care of him as Holy Bull moves on to another era in his very rich life, so far. HB has done everything asked of him excellently, and should continue to be rewarded for that excellence. This is the first time I've heard of the accusation of poisoning in the Kentucky Derby. I truly hope that did not happen to Holy Bull. It would be a travesty if it did happen. Holy Bull did not deserve such treatment, and anyone who would sink to such a level not only exhibited disgustingly poor sportsmanship, but also portrayed an extremely low level of humanity. Back to Holy Bull, this tribute is to him. Good job, Holy Bull! You will notice that life will be quieter for you now. May your life continue to be good as you step into the next journey of your life!
himmelle More than 1 year ago
I was at that Derby and was close enough to see the start. The gates opened and Holy Bull hesitated. I thought, "Its over." I never heard the accusations that he had been drugged, I always thought that if he hadn't been injured, he would have beat Cigar in the Donn.
larry roswell More than 1 year ago
l agree , holy bull was better than cigar
Andy More than 1 year ago
Shame injuries shortened Holy Bull's career. We can't speculate who would've won the Donn except that HB got hurt and Cigar went on to be one of the greatest older handicap horses ever. Both have their well deserved place in history.
Joe More than 1 year ago
Holybull was 10 times the horse Cigar ever thought of being and if he hadn't broken down that race he would have won easily,