10/16/2001 11:00PM

Irish River pensioned

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Graham Beck's Gainesway Farm in Lexington has pensioned prominent stallion Irish River, sire of North American champions Paradise Creek and Hatoof, at the age of 25.

Michael Hernon, Gainesway's director of sales, said that Irish River's retirement "is based purely on his declining fertility."

Irish River, a two-time French champion and son of Riverman, covered 40 mares in 2000 and got 19 live foals this year, according to statistics from The Jockey Club.

Irish River is best known for his propensity to sire high-class turf runners, as exemplified by Paradise Creek and Hatoof, North America's champion male and female turf runners in 1994. Irish River's other top runners include French champion Brief Truce, English and Italian champion Orban, 2001 Arc de Triomphe winner Sakhee, and 2001 Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile winner Irish Prize. In all, he sired more than 70 stakes winners.

From 19 crops to race so far, Irish River has sired runners who have earned more than $40 million. He also is among North America's leading broodmare sires with more than 80 stakes winners.

Irish River won a host of major French stakes, including the French 2000 Guineas, Prix d'Ispahan, Prix Jacques le Marois, Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, Grand Criterium, Prix de la Salamandre, and Prix de Morny