09/26/2006 11:00PM

Precisionist euthanized at 25


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Hall of Famer and 1985 champion sprinter Precisionist has been euthanized at the Old Friends equine retirement center near Georgetown, Ky. He was 25 and had an inoperable sinus tumor.

"We discovered that he had a virulent malignant tumor that was growing very quickly," explained Old Friends president Michael Blowen.

Blowen said Precisionist was euthanized at Old Friends at about 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

"He just about said in the best English imaginable, 'I've had enough,' " Blowen said. "He had a lot of class, and he was so smart. He taught everyone out here a lot of things."

A homebred campaigned by the late Fred Hooper, Precisionist was a rarity: a championship-caliber sprinter who also was a top-class performer beyond a mile. He is perhaps best remembered for his three-quarter-length victory over Smile in the 1985 Breeders' Cup Sprint, but Precisionist also won the 1984 Swaps Stakes and 1985 Charles H. Strub Stakes, both Grade 1 events over 1 1/4 miles. He also took the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 1/4 miles in 1984.

Precisionist began his career in 1983, winning his first start by 7 1/2 lengths. When his racing days ended five years later, he had amassed $3,485,398 in earnings and won 20 of his 46 starts. He captured 17 stakes, including six Grade 1's. He also had three trainers: Ross Fenstermaker, who had the horse for most of his long career, followed by John Russell, and, for his final start when he finished 12th in the 1988 Sunny Isle Handicap, William Donovan.

Precisionist also had a rival in the British-bred Greinton. The two runners met eight times, and each won four times. But Precisionist had the last word, beating Greinton by a neck in their final duel, the 1986 San Bernardino Handicap. Greinton retired soon after that, and it appeared Precisionist would, too. But his initial retirement to Arthur Appleton's Florida farm in the late fall of 1986 was a failure: Precisionist, it turned out, had exceptionally low fertility.

Hooper returned the horse to training in 1988, then retired him again to Florida after the Sunny Isle in 1988. Despite efforts to improve the horse's fertility, Precisionist sired only four foals: the winners Presailist and Classy Rate and the winless Personalized and Preciseness. Preciseness, a filly, died in 2003 at age 12.

Hooper eventually sent Precisionist to Dr. Siobhan Ellison's farm in Ocala, Fla., where he lived in retirement until June 2006. Ellison donated him to Old Friends, where he soon became a tourist attraction as well as a favorite of Blowen. Among Precisionist's frequent visitors was his regular rider, retired Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron.

Precisionist has been buried in his entirety at Old Friends, and the facility has planned a memorial for Oct. 16 at about 5 p.m.