02/20/2015 11:48AM

Horse Chestnut dies at age 19


Horse Chestnut, South Africa’s 1999 Horse of the Year and a U.S. Grade 3 winner and sire, died Feb. 20 from heart failure at Drakenstein Stud Farm in South Africa.

The 19-year-old, from the first crop of Fort Wood, had resided at Drakenstein since 2009 after beginning his stud career at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.

“It was a privilege to stand such a horse of tremendous importance in South African racing history,” said Gaynor Rupert, owner of Drakenstein Stud. “He was a gentleman and loved by all the staff at Drakenstein. As one of the first two stallions of the farm it was something special for all at the stud to watch the friendship and bond develop between him and Trippi over the years. He will be sorely missed.”

Horse Chestnut raced as a homebred for Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer and trainer Mike de Kock. He quickly became one of South Africa’s most dominant runners, winning a trio of stakes races at age 2. He followed up at age 3 by winning South Africa’s Triple Crown – the Cape Argus Guineas, the South African Classic, and the South African Derby – en route to being named Horse of the Year. His closest margin of victory during the series was four lengths, and he clinched the Triple Crown in the South African Derby by 10 lengths.

Horse Chestnut also added an eight-length win in the J&B Metropolitan Stakes between the first and second legs of the Triple Crown.

Horse Chestnut was sent to the U.S. for his 2000 campaign, running for the same connections. He won the Broward Handicap at Gulfstream Park by 5 ½ lengths in his North American debut, but suffered a career-ending injury training up to that year’s Donn Handicap. He was retired to Claiborne, and stood there for nine seasons before being purchased to move back to South Africa.

Horse Chestnut has sired 12 crops of racing age, with 246 winners and combined progeny earnings of more than $13.5 million to date. His North American runners are led by Grade 1 winner Lucifer’s Stone, Grade 2 winner Spanish Chestnut, and Grade 3 winners Smart Enough, Askbut I Won’ttell, and Duveen. He is also the broodmare sire of Kentucky Derby hopeful Ocho Ocho Ocho.

The sire’s top South African runners include Group 3 winners Chestnut’s Rocket and Banbury.