11/11/2002 1:00AM

Rock of Gibraltar retired to stud


NEW YORK - Rock of Gibraltar will not run again. A statement by Coolmore Stud on Monday evening said the brilliant 3-year-old miler will stand the 2003 season alongside his sire, Danehill, at Coolmore in Ireland.

While a stud fee has not been announced, people in the industry said they believe the fee will be in the area of $100,000. Rock of Gibraltar was briefly considered for the Hong Kong Mile Dec. 15, but instead has been retired.

Rock of Gibraltar set a modern European record of seven consecutive Group 1 victories, two of those as a juvenile and five more, all at a mile, this year. That streak came to an end after his bold bid fell short to Domedriver in the Breeders' Cup Mile last month. In that race, he was troubled by a slow start and traffic at the head of the stretch when stablemate Landseer broke down.

"I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone at Ballydoyle," said Rock of Gibraltar's co-owner Alex Ferguson, the manager of the Manchester United soccer club. Ferguson was referring to the horse's other official owner, Susan Magnier, as well as Coolmore owner John Magnier and trainer Aidan O'Brien.

After a victory over stablemate Hawk Wing in the Group 3 Railway Stakes at the Curragh in July 2001, Rock of Gibraltar won the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York. He finished second in September 2001 in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes and was not defeated thereafter until the Breeders' Cup Mile.

It was in the Grand Criterium at Longchamp that Rock of Gibraltar first showed his remarkable acceleration, steaming three lengths clear of Bernbeau. After that, there was a nose decision over Landseer in the Dewhurst Stakes, in which he and regular rider Michael Kinane had to overcome a ton of trouble.

While most of the winter talk centered on O'Brien's juvenile champion Johannesburg, it was Rock of Gibraltar who was the highlight of Ballydoyle's 2002 season. He won the 2000 Guineas, the Irish 2000 Guineas, the St. James's Palace Stakes, the Sussex Stakes, and the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp this year. Rock of Gibraltar goes to Coolmore with a record of 10 victories from 13 starts for earnings of $1,881,694.