06/14/2005 11:00PM

Lyphard dead at 36

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Gainesway Farm
Lyphard lived out his days at Gainesway Farm, where he sired most of his 115 stakes winners.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Lyphard, who at 36 was the oldest living elite Thoroughbred sire and one of the oldest horses in the world, died on June 10 at Gainesway Farm in Lexington.

The stallion was euthanized because of the infirmities of old age, a farm official confirmed. "Lyphard has been a part of the Gainesway family for 27 years," Antony Beck, Gainesway's president, said in a statement. "He was a tremendous racehorse and sire. We are saddened by his passing."

Lyphard, a son of Northern Dancer, won 6 of 12 starts in Europe and was nearly a champion before embarking on a remarkable stud career. In all, Lyphard sired 115 stakes winners from 843 foals (14 percent stakes winners), with 84 percent starters and 60 percent winners from his foals. He ranks as one of the half-dozen great sons of Northern Dancer, alongside Nijinsky, Danzig, Sadler's Wells, Nureyev, and El Gran Senor.

These stallions made a mark on the breed, exuding class, speed, soundness, and athleticism. And Lyphard was one of the best. He was the leading sire in North America in 1986, led the list in France in 1978 and 1979, and led the French broodmare sire list in 1985 and 1986.

A foal of 1969, Lyphard was from the fourth crop of Northern Dancer. Following close on the heels of English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky (a foal of 1967), Lyphard emphasized how well suited the offspring of Northern Dancer were to race in Europe.

A small and beautifully made horse, Lyphard was more like his sire than any other son - in stature, color, personality, and athleticism. They each had rich bay coats that gleamed like polished mahogany and were dappled in the prime of health, and their faces were marked with a blaze that swept boldly down their faces.

Neither was tall, but both were quite strongly made, with great depth of shoulder, a broad back, deep girth, and wide, powerful hindquarters. Both Lyphard and Northern Dancer had a zest for racing and for living. No horseman would look at them or work with them and say that they were "just horses."

Energy, independence, and personality marked the son, as well as the sire, and these characteristics became closely associated with the progeny of Northern Dancer, who was frequently described as dashing, animated, daring.

Bred in Pennsylvania by Mrs. J.O. Burgwin from the stakes-winning Court Martial mare Goofed, Lyphard sold as a weanling at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale in 1969 to Tim Rogers, the Irish horseman who had considerable success as a pinhooker of foals into the yearling markets in England and Ireland.

Rogers bought Lyphard for $35,000 at Keeneland and resold him for 15,000 guineas at Newmarket. Alec Head, the great French trainer and breeder, bought the colt for Madame Pierre Wertheimer.

Although Lyphard had not grown much as a yearling and was virtually friendless at Newmarket because of his size, Head was interested in the colt because he had trained the colt's grandam, Barra.

Wertheimer named the colt in honor of the great French dancer and choreographer Serge Lifar, who was of Russian ancestry.

Raced in France, England, and Ireland, Lyphard showed high speed and competitiveness, just as his sire had done.

After the classic successes of Nijinsky two years earlier, the owner had hopes that Lyphard would stay the classic distances. Starting as co-second favorite for the English Derby, Lyphard was unplaced after negotiating Tattenham Corner awkwardly on the far outside.

Returned to a mile, Lyphard won the Prix Jacques le Marois, and his last race was a victory in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp over seven furlongs.

Lyphard went to stud at the Chambure family operation, Haras d'Etreham, in 1973, and five years later Lyphard was exported to Gainesway following the success of his first-crop stars Durtal (Cheveley Park Stakes) and Pharly (Prix de la Foret at 2, Prix du Moulin de Longchamp at 3).

At stud in Kentucky, Lyphard became more famous and successful. His daughter Three Troikas won the Arc de Triomphe in 1979, his son Manila became champion turf horse in North America in 1986 and retired the next year with earnings of nearly $2.7 million, and his son Dancing Brave became the champion of Europe with victories in the 2000 Guineas, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Arc de Triomphe in 1986. A full sister to Dancing Brave, Jolypha, won the Prix de Diane and Prix Vermeille in 1992, as well as running a fine third in the Breeders' Cup Classic to champions A.P. Indy and Pleasant Tap.

Lyphard was pensioned from stallion duty in 1996 at age 27.

Although he never got a son who succeeded so notably as himself, Lyphard's sons had success at stud, and the best is probably Alzao, who is at Coolmore Stud in Ireland and is the sire of 13 winners at Group 1 or Grade 1 level.

Lyphard's great-grandson Linamix was the leading stallion in France in 2004 and is Lyphard's most prominent male-line influence today. The sire of Arc de Triomphe winner Sagamix, Linamix stands at Haras du Val Henry in France.