05/21/2008 11:00PM

Steeplechase champion Highland Bud dies


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Highland Bud, 1989 champion steeplechaser and Colonial Cup victor and a two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase, was euthanized on Tuesday. The 23-year-old Northern Baby gelding had a chronic sinus condition.

Highland Bud, a son of the Exclusive Native mare Fleur d’Or, initially sold for $47,000 at the 1986 Keeneland September yearling sale to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum. He started his racing career in Ireland, where he won the Ulster Harp Derby at Down Royal and the St. Leger Trial at Phoenix Park in 1988. He tried hurdling later that year and had an auspicious start with a 10-length win in his debut at Newbury in England, followed by a stakes win at Cheltenham in January 1989.

Sold at Doncaster in England later that year, Highland Bud brought about $170,000 from American steeplechase trainer Jonathan Sheppard on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse M. Henley Jr. The Henleys soon imported the gelding to the United States, and he quickly developed into a champion for them. He won the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase by 10, beating stablemate Polar Pleasure, then followed up with a 14-length victory in the Colonial Cup to clinch his Eclipse Award.

Highland Bud scored his second Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase victory in 1992, defeating Mistico, and finished second to champion Lonesome Glory in the 1993 edition. Injured during the 1993 Colonial Cup, he retired at age 8 with a lifetime record of 10 wins, 10 seconds, and 3 third-place finishes from 27 starts. He had earnings of $508,269.

Highland Bud was buried, wearing his Colonial Cup blanket, at the Butler, Md., farm of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fenwick Jr., near the site where his former groom Betsy Wells’s ashes were spread in 2006.