09/28/2010 2:16PM

Real Quiet, 1998 Derby winner, dies at 15

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Michele MacDonald
Real Quiet, winner of the 1998 Kentucky Derby, died Monday at the age of 15.

Real Quiet, the winner of the 1998 Kentucky Derby who narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown, died on Monday afternoon as the result of a paddock accident at Penn Ridge Farms in Harrisburg, Pa., according to the farm’s owner, Michael Jester.

Jester said that farm personnel found Real Quiet on Monday morning in his paddock, and that the horse had fractured several cervical vertebrae. Real Quiet was unable to get up, and had to be euthanized.

Doctors at the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., had determined on Tuesday that Real Quiet had fallen on his shoulder, driving the shoulder bone into the vertebra, Jester said. A search of his paddock did not turn up any marks in the grass or fencing to indicate how the injury had occurred, Jester said.

“He had to have reared up, slipped, and fell on his left shoulder, and that drove the bone into the back,” Jester said.

The 15-year-old horse, who had stood at Penn Ridge starting with the 2008 breeding season, was a “pleasure to be around,” Jester said. Real Quiet was owned by a syndicate, whose principal partner was Jester. Real Quiet was the first horse to stand at the farm.

WATCHMAKER: Real Quiet and the worst beat in racing history

“Whatever he did, he did it with class and style,” Jester said. “That’s what makes this so much more difficult. You really get close to the good ones.”

A son of Quiet American out of the Believe It mare Really Blue, Real Quiet was purchased by trainer Bob Baffert for owner Mike Pegram for $17,000 as a yearling. He quickly outran his pedigree and small frame – he was nicknamed “The Fish” by Baffert because he was so narrow – and he established himself as one of several top-class contenders for the Triple Crown by the end of his 2-year-old season with a win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity.

Real Quiet won the Derby by a half-length over Victory Gallop, and he then took the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico by 2 1/4 lengths, again with Victory Gallop in second. Victory Gallop turned the tables in the Belmont with a furious late run, nipping Real Quiet by a nose. Real Quiet was voted champion 3-year-old for that season.

As a 4-year-old, Real Quiet won two Grade 1 stakes, the Pimlico Special and Hollywood Gold Cup. Later in the year, while preparing for the Pacific Classic, he was injured and retired.

Real Quiet was not nearly as successful as a stallion as he was a runner. He first stood at Vinery Kentucky for $25,000, and was then moved to Taylor Made Stallions in Kentucky, Regal Heir Farm and Pin Oak Lane in Pennsylvania, and finally to Penn Ridge.