09/25/2009 11:00PM

Kona Gold euthanized after paddock accident


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kona Gold, the sprint champion of 2000, was euthanized Friday in Lexington at age 15 after a paddock accident.

According to the Kentucky Horse Park, where Kona Gold resided in the Hall of Champions, the Java Gold gelding sustained a severe fracture to his left front leg while exercising in his paddock.

"Within minutes of the accident, he was taken to Hagyard Equine Medical Institute for evaluation, where it was determined by the surgical staff that his injury was beyond repair," a Horse Park announcement said. Kona Gold's former trainer, Bruce Headley, surgeons, and Horse Park staff made the decision to euthanize the gelding.

Kona Gold won the 2000 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs in track-record time of 1:07.77. He also set a 5 1/2-furlong track record in 1998 winning his first of two El Conejo Handicaps at Santa Anita in 1:01.74. Kona Gold, owned by Headley and Irwin and Andrew Molasky, won one other Grade 1 race, the 2001 San Carlos Handicap and nine other graded stakes. He retired at age 9 with 14 victories in 30 starts and $2,293,384 in earnings.

Kona Gold spent four years as Headley's lead pony before retiring to the Horse Park in 2007.

"He was part of the family," Headley said. "He was a great racehorse and had a great personality, he was a showman. You could pet him, where you couldn't get close to some other horses."

Kona Gold was out of the Slew o' Gold mare Double Sunrise.

- additional reporting by Brad Free