07/02/2013 3:49PM

Mecke, Grade 1 winner and sire, dies at age 21

Multiple Grade 1 winner and sire Mecke, shown here winning the 1997 Mac Diarmida Handicap, was euthanized on June 26 at 21 due to the infirmities of old age.

Mecke, an Indiana-based stallion and multiple Grade 1 winner whose résumé includes the 1996 Arlington Million, was euthanized June 26 due to the infirmities of old age. He was 21 years old.

The son of Maudlin had been pensioned at Hidden Springs Farm in Palmyra, Ind., earlier this spring, after neurological issues began to affect his balance and stability. He got two mares in foal during this year’s breeding season before the problem was identified and the stallion was relieved of his duties.

“He was great until about a week or two ago, and then he started losing his balance,” said Robin Berryhill of Hidden Springs Farm. “I talked to the owner and told him I just didn’t want him to hurt himself, so he agreed that it was time.”

Hidden Springs stood Mecke for Tennessee-based owner Walter T. Bates.

Mecke was a successful runner on both turf and dirt, winning the Arlington Million and the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, both Grade 1s, on the grass in 1996. A year earlier, he won the Grade 1 Super Derby on the dirt at Louisiana Downs, equaling the track record at 1 1/4 miles.

Bred in Florida by Farnsworth Farm, Mecke primarily competed in his home state, where he won Grade 3 races at Calder, Gulfstream, and Hialeah.

Of Mecke’s 40 career starts, 23 were wins or in-the-money efforts in stakes competition, including runner-up finishes in 1995’s Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine, Secretariat at Arlington, and Man O’ War at Belmont. He also finished third in the 1996 edition of the Canadian International, in the 1995 Florida Derby, and in the 1997 Donn Handicap. He also finished fifth in both the 1995 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

In total, Mecke won 12 of 40 starts for earnings of $1,470,550. He was campaigned by owner James R. Lewis, Jr., who purchased him for $40,000 at the 1994 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training. Emanuel Tortora trained Mecke throughout his career.

Mecke is a full brother to champion older mare Beautiful Pleasure, both out of the Baldski mare Beautiful Bid. The mare also produced multiple stakes winner Jeb and Grade 3-placed winner Robynhood.

Mecke was retired to Ocala Stud for the 1997 breeding season, and stood at the farm until 2008 before relocating to Tennessee. He arrived at Hidden Springs last year.

As a sire, Mecke has produced 14 crops of racing age with 14 stakes winners. His most successful runners in the U.S. were Grade 2 winner Supah Blitz and Grade 3 winner Mountain Rage. He is also the sire of Mecke Daughter, a multiple stakes winner and champion imported 3-year-old filly in Puerto Rico.

“He was a great horse, the most gentle stallion I’ve ever been around,” Berryhill said of Mecke.

Berryhill said that Mecke was buried on the farm and a memorial will be placed there, commemorating his achievements. Long after his retirement from the racetrack, Berryhill said that fans still frequently sent the horse fond tributes.

“I get calls from all over,” she said. “I get letters from people who just love him. A guy even sent me a Mecke beer stein.”