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Two-time Canadian Horse of the Year Chief Bearhart dies at 19
By Bill Tallon
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.
Perf recalls Chief Bearhart's win in the '98 G1 Manhattan where he went from last to first in the stretch. He was so much feared that his opposition had been setting crawling fractions in his races to defeat him but in the Manhattan Frostad entered a rabbit and the result was we once more got to see how great Chief Bearhart was. Also a salute to his pilot, Jose Santos, is due. Sad to have them both no longer in the game.
Goodbye Chief Bear. You ran your races well, sired some winners and now you deserve to rest on peace, old friend. Prayers for you that death was swift.
He was a nice honest sort. Great name too
Salute to a great North American champion that represented us well in the BC Turf in 1997 against the europeans. Great win!
Two excellent champion horses passing away a day apart. Racing has lost another wonderful ambassador. Chief Bearhart had a wonderfully distinguished record, including an Eclipse Award and a number of G1 wins to his credit. At 19, Chief Bearhart died rather young. He was a wonderful champion and all of his fans will miss him very much. Good job, Chief Bearhart. You did very well. Thank you for your sparkling victories & flashing your marvelous talent for us. Rest in peace.
He was really impressive that year. I recall hitting the triple with him in the '98 Manhattan, the race before Real Quiet lost the triple crown by a nose. Chief Bearheart was last as they straightened away for the drive and he blew past them all with an impressive turn of foot. Devonwood was second at 20-1, but alas the triple only paid 45-1 with the 3-5 shot on top.
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