Updated on 07/27/2013 11:04PM

Unbridled's Song, Grade 1 winner and prominent sire, dead at 20

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Barbara D. Livingston
Unbridled's Song stood his entire stud career at Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, Ky., where he recently completed the breeding season.

Unbridled’s Song, a Grade 1 winner and one of the top commercial sires of his generation, was euthanized on Friday after a large mass was discovered in multiple sinus cavities and around his optic nerves, leading to a rapid decline in health. He was 20.

The horse had been admitted to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday to undergo tests for symptoms of neurological issues that had developed earlier in the day.

The son of Unbridled stood his entire stud career at Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, Ky., where he recently completed the breeding season. He last stood for an advertised fee of $60,000.

Ben Taylor, Vice President of Taylor Made Stallions, said that Unbridled’s Song had shown no signs of trouble leading up to his decline on Thursday.

“He had some vet issues through the breeding season, which hampered him, but he was completely over it and doing perfect, and we couldn’t be happier with him the day before – and then after that, he came in and he showed symptoms of problems and it went downhill from there,” Taylor said.

"Unbridled’s Song was majestic from the beginning. Rarely are there horses that are supposed to be great from the beginning and actually are," said Taylor Made President and CEO Duncan Taylor. "Unbridled’s Song was one of those great horses. He had it all - looks, pedigree, speed, and presence.”

Bred in Kentucky by Mandysland Farm, Unbridled’s Song was from the first crop of Kentucky Derby winner and champion Unbridled. He was out of the winning Caro mare Trolley Song, whose produce also included unraced Spanish Steps, sire of 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike.

Unbridled’s Song was a $200,000 purchase at the 1994 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale by Ernie Paragallo’s Paraneck Stable. He was then sold as a 2-year-old for $1.4 million at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training, with Taylor Made as agent, only to be bought back by Paragallo when sale buyer Hiroshi Fujita refused the sale after stating that his veterinarian found evidence of ankle bone chips.

Campaigned by Paraneck, Unbridled’s Song was a fast starter on the racetrack, breaking his maiden by 8 1/2 lengths and capping off his 2-year-old season with a win in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His spring campaign the following year made him one of the favorites on the 1996 Kentucky Derby trail, with wins in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and the Grade 2 Wood Memorial. He left the gates as the 7-2 post-time favorite in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished fifth to Grindstone.

Unbridled’s Song’s career ended prematurely in 1997, when he suffered a broken cannon bone while training up to the Donn Handicap. He retired with five wins from 12 starts for earnings of $1,311,800. The horse was trained by James Ryerson for all but his final two starts, when he was trained by Nick Zito.

Unbridled’s Song was retired to Taylor Made for the 1997 breeding season, and he became an internationally successful sire of racehorses and in the commercial arena.

[MORE UNBRIDLED'S SONG: Barbara D. Livingston photo gallery]

[A look at Unbridled's Song in 'The Home Run Horse: Inside America's Billion-Dollar Racehorse Industry and the High-Stakes Dreams that Fuel It', by DRF's Glenye Cain Oakford]

His progeny are led by U.S. champion Midshipman, Canadian champion Embur’s Song, Breeders’ Cup Distaff/Ladies’ Classic winners Unrivaled Belle, and Unbridled Elaine. He also sired multiple Grade 1 winners Octave, Splendid Blended, Thorn Song, and Zensational, as well as 2008 Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles and 2009 Belmont Stakes runner-up Dunkirk.

From 14 crops of racing age, Unbridled’s Song has sired 100 stakes winners, including 45 graded stakes winners, for combined earnings of over $89 million. He became the 27th North American stallion to eclipse 100 stakes winners earlier this year when Graydar took the Donn Handicap, and was one of ten active stallions worldwide to accomplish the feat prior to his death.

Unbridled’s Song became a force to be reckoned with in the auction industry, with his lifetime average yearling price of $298,118 leading all North American sires. He ranks third all-time among North American sires by yearling gross sales with $198,844,653.

The stallion’s influence has also been felt as a sire of sires, with over 45 sons standing around the world, led by Grade 1-producing sires Even the Score and First Defence. He is also represented by high-profile first-crop sires Old Fashioned and Zensational, as well as young sires Dunkirk, Songandaprayer, Midshipman, and Mission Impazible.

Unbridled’s Song is also the broodmare sire of multiple Grade 1 winner and young sire General Quarters, New York-bred Horse of the Year and Grade 1 winner The Lumber Guy, Grade 1 winner Unbridled Command, and Hong Kong Group 1 winner Warning Flag, among many others.

"Our team loved him from the beginning,” Duncan Taylor said. “I appreciate and am proud of the job our team did with the management of this magnificent horse. I would also like to thank the breeders and owners who supported and helped him become a great stallion."

- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo