04/27/2004 12:00AM

Irish River dies at 28


French champion Irish River, sire of such champions as Paradise Creek and Hatoof, died Sunday at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky., the farm confirmed Tuesday. The stallion, pensioned since 2001, was 28.

Bred and raced in France by Mrs. Raymond Ades, Irish River was a son of Riverman and the Klairon mare Irish Star. He was a two-time champion in France, first in 1978 as that country's top 2-year-old and again the following year as top miler. He won seven Group 1 races in those two seasons. He retired with a lifetime race record of 12-10-0-1 and $622,739 in earnings.

"I remember looking at him in the early 80's when he first arrived here," Gainesway's director of sales, Michael Hernon, said. "He was an exceptionally good-looking, correct, strong horse. He was a textbook-conformation horse. He gave the breed class and soundness."

Irish River's most accomplished runners include 1994 champion turf male Paradise Creek and 1994 champion turf female Hatoof, and European champions Brief Truce and Orba. One of his leading runners this year is Grade 2 winner Irish Warrior, who took the Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap.