11/14/2008 12:00AM

Seeking the Gold showed his prowess early

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Like his famous sire, Mr. Prospector, Seeking the Gold began his stud career by siring an Eclipse Award winner in his first crop of foals. Like a true top-tier sire, Seeking the Gold showed from the beginning of his career that he could get champions and athletes able to challenge for the premium prizes in racing.

This past week, the stallion came to the end of his career at stud. A bay son of Mr. Prospector and the Buckpasser mare Con Game, Seeking the Gold was pensioned from duty at Claiborne Farm, where he was bred and raised and where he stood his entire career.

It is, therefore, appropriate to look back with as much perspective as we have on the accomplishments of one of the best of Mr. Prospector's many fine sons.

Seeking the Gold has sired four champions and 88 stakes winners, including 48 graded or group stakes winners. At stud through 19 breeding seasons (1990 through 2008), Seeking the Gold stood for as much as $325,000. Among the honors he accumulated during his breeding career were recognition as the leading freshman sire of 1993 and leading juvenile sire in 1994.

From the first crop came 3-year-old champion Heavenly Prize, who won the Grade 1 Frizette as a 2-year-old in 1993 and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. The following season, Heavenly Prize strengthened and matured into the champion of her division, winning the Beldame, Gazelle, and Alabama, along with running second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

On the same Breeders' Cup card in 1994, another daughter of Seeking the Gold, the unbeaten Flanders, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and an Eclipse Award for breeder Overbrook Farm.

With his physical scope and quality, Seeking the Gold had obviously inherited a fair portion of the excellent qualities of his famous maternal grandsire, the 1967 Horse of the Year, Buckpasser. And by siring a pair of champion fillies in his first two crops, Seeking the Gold also emulated Buckpasser, who sired Numbered Account and La Prevoyante in his first and second crops at stud.

Also like Buckpasser, Seeking the Gold was bred and raced by Ogden Phipps, and during his racing career, this bay grandson of the great Phipps champion finished first or second in 14 of his 15 starts and earned more than $2.3 million.

Seeking the Gold won his maiden in his only start at 2, then progressed to win the Dwyer at 3 and strengthen his position through the season. He placed second to Forty Niner in the Travers, won the Super Derby, and ran a close second to Horse of the Year Alysheba in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

That was Seeking the Gold's only race in a Breeders' Cup event, but as a sire, he sired three winners: Juvenile Fillies winners Flanders (1994) and Cash Run (1999), along with Distaff winner Pleasant Home (2005).

In quick order, Seeking the Gold had sired a pair of champion fillies, and even in the face of considerable evidence that he was siring some good colts, such as Louisiana and Ohio Derby winner Petionville, the stallion began to acquire the reputation of a "filly sire."

This is not a good thing, because any stallion's offspring will be approximately 50 percent colts, which typically sell for more money at auction, and the ultimate test of any stallion's success is siring sons of comparable merit. Filly sires tend to be passed over in this regard.

Then from his sixth crop, Seeking the Gold sired his very best son, the international champion Dubai Millennium. A horse of great quality and exceptional athleticism, Dubai Millennium was so special that his owner, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, changed the colt's name to reflect the importance he felt for the colt.

Dubai Millennium was beaten only once, in the English Derby of 1999, but proved his superiority over his contemporaries in all his other races, including a scintillating victory in the Dubai World Cup of 2000.

In a harsh twist of fate, Dubai Millennium contracted grass sickness partway through his first season at stud and died. With him died Seeking the Gold's best chance of having a son of comparable merit at stud.

Other sons have earned recognition at stud, including the consistent Petionville (sire of Alabama winner Island Fashion), Cape Town (Kentucky Oaks winner Bird Town), and Mutakddim (Test winner Lady Tak).

The stallion also has several young sons at stud who do not yet have runners, including Belmont Stakes winner Jazil and Wood Memorial winner Bob and John.

Seeking the Gold's daughters also have become important broodmares, producing such top racehorses as Surfside, Riskaverse, Good Reward, and Pine Island.

With his final crop to arrive in 2009, Seeking the Gold will have runners for several more seasons, and further good horses may add to his fame.