09/19/2012 1:51PM

Two-time Canadian Horse of the Year Chief Bearhart dies at 19

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Michael Burns
Chief Bearhart died Tuesday of heart failure at the age of 19 in Japan.

Chief Bearhart, Canada’s Horse of the Year in 1997 and 1998 and the Eclipse Award winner as champion male turf horse in 1997, died of heart failure in Japan on Tuesday at age 19.

Tom Cosgrove, co-chairman of the nomination and elections committees and Woodbine’s archivist, received the news of Chief Bearhart’s death in a message from the Japan Racing Association on Wednesday. Chief Bearhart was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.

Chief Bearhart, bred in Ontario by Richard Maynard and owned by Sam-Son Farm, retired in 1998 with his final career start a fourth-place finish in Tokyo’s Grade 1 Japan Cup.

A son of Chief’s Crown and the Bold Hour mare Amelia Bearhart, Chief Bearhart compiled a record of 12-5-3 for earnings of almost $3.8 million in his 26 career starts for trainer Mark Frostad.

Chief Bearhart’s nine career stakes victories were highlighted by the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Hollywood Park and Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine in 1997 and the Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont Park the following season.

His other stakes wins came in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Elkhorn and in Woodbine’s Grade 3 King Edward and four other stakes, including the Breeders’, which is the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

In addition to his Sovereign Awards as Canada’s Horse of the Year, Chief Bearhart was voted outstanding turf male in three consecutive seasons beginning in 1996.

Standing at stud in Japan, Chief Bearhart had sired group stakes winners in 10 consecutive years beginning in 2003.