06/11/2007 12:00AM

Runaway Groom euthanized

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Runaway Groom, a Canadian champion who went on to sire 1994 champion sprinter Cherokee Run, has died in Lexington, Ky. The 28-year-old stallion was euthanized June 8 because of the infirmities of old age, according to a release by Vinery, the farm where he had stood since 1991.

Vinery had pensioned Runaway Groom earlier this year.

"Runaway Groom was a great horse with a great personality," Vinery's stallion manager, Mike Heitzman, said in the farm's announcement. "Even at his age, he was the toughest horse in the barn to handle. He was the king around here, and he knew it. We are all saddened by his passing. It's truly the end of an era."

Runaway Groom carried the colors of Albert Coppola during a two-season racing career highlighted by victories in the 1982 Travers and in Canada's 1982 Prince of Wales and Breeders' Stakes. He also finished second that season in the Canadian Heresy Stakes and the Queen's Plate, all of which secured him the title of Canadian champion 3-year-old.

At 4, he finished third in Del Mar's Grade 3 San Diego Handicap. He is a member of Canadian racing's Hall of Fame.

At stud, Runaway Groom sired champion and Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Cherokee Run, still his leading earner, as well as millionaire Grade 1 winners Wekiva Springs and Down the Aisle.

His progeny also include one-mile American record-setter Down the Aisle, who covered the distance in 1:32.24, and overseas champions March Groom, Alex the Groom, and Collect the Groom.