02/05/2018 1:19PM

Innkeeper, son of Secretariat, dies at 30


Innkeeper, who was the final son of Secretariat standing in the United States, was euthanized on Feb. 2 following complications from colic. The 30-year-old stallion last stood as a sporthorse sire at Virginia Tech’s Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center in Middleburg, Va.

“He epitomized the diversity and greatness of the Thoroughbred breed,” Virginia Tech said in a statement about the stallion, whose barn name was ‘Howard.’

Secretariat, record-shattering winner of the 1973 Triple Crown, entered stud in 1974 at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., and stood 16 seasons before being euthanized due to laminitis on Oct. 4, 1989. His final foals arrived in 1990. None of Secretariat’s runners replicated their sire’s feats on the racetrack, although they had a fair amount of success; the group was led by Horse of the Year Lady’s Secret, dual classic winner and champion Risen Star, and Canadian champion Medaille d’Or. Secretariat made his biggest impact through his daughters, appearing among America’s leading broodmare sires four times, including in 1992 when he led the nation. Stallions produced by his daughters included breed-shaping sires A.P. Indy and Storm Cat.

Secretariat’s final two active sons at stud were Innkeeper, whose story took several twists and turns before he arrived at the MARE Center; and Careless Secretary, who last stood at Sweetwater Stud in Bulgaria, dying in 2016.

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Innkeeper, bred in Kentucky by Regent Farms, was a $1.15 million purchase at the 1989 Keeneland July selected yearling sale. He went on to win once from seven starts for Wayne Lukas and Overbrook Farm before retiring to stud. The half-brother to Irish Derby winner Sir Harry Lewis initially stood at Oakwood Farm in Florida before moving to Sugar Maple Farm in New York. He sired nine winners from 16 Thoroughbred starters, led by multiple stakes-placed Motel Time.

Sugar Maple’s veterinarian, Dr. Richard Urban, and his wife purchased Innkeeper and began his formal training as a hunter. They later sold him to sporthorse breeder Ursula Ferrier, who competed him as an eventer and dressage mount. Ferrier also made moves to build Innkeeper’s career as a sporthorse sire, standing him at Hilltop Farm in Maryland, and getting the horse approved as a stallion by the International Sporthorse Registry and the Oldenburg Registry of North America, rare achievements for a Thoroughbred.

Ferrier later donated Innkeeper to Virginia Tech’s MARE Center, which had been established via donations of money and land by Thoroughbred owner, breeder, and philanthropist Paul Mellon. At Virginia Tech, the stallion primarily serviced Hanoverian, Dutch Warmblood, and Thoroughbred mares, with resulting foals competing in disciplines such as dressage, hunters, and eventing. Virginia Tech students worked with Innkeeper as part of their training in stallion behavior and management, and equine reproduction. Although he was officially considered to be pensioned, Innkeeper had still participated in student learning in recent years, and also continued to tease mares for the program.

“He was an integral part of our teaching, breeding and outreach programs,” Virginia Tech’s statement said. “It was a privilege and honor to care for such an amazing and special horse.”

Innkeeper will be buried at the MARE Center, where a memorial will be created in his honor.