05/09/2016 6:41PM

Wallenda euthanized at Old Friends


Wallenda, a Grade 1 winner, sire, and resident of Old Friends Equine Retirement in Georgetown, Ky., was euthanized Monday afternoon after long-running hoof and suspensory issues rapidly worsened.

The 26-year-old was the most successful runner from the first crop of his sire Gulch, who was himself a longtime Old Friends pensioner and died in January. Wallenda had resided at Old Friends since April 2007.

“He was our role model, because he was just like his father,” said Old Friends founder and president Michael Blowen. “He was just really, really tough. He’d gone through the foot problems for so long.

“Last night was the first night that he had trouble,” Blowen continued. “Carol Oates, who works at the farm, called me first thing this morning and said, ‘He had a tough night. I looked over and he’d cut his face up trying to get up.’ The radiographs had just come back and his anklebone was ready to come through the bottom of his foot, so we knew his time was limited anyway. Today, when he showed us the first signs that he was really not doing well, the veterinarians said he’s certainly not going to get better, so we took their advice and euthanized him this afternoon.”

Bred in Florida by Haras Santa Maria de Araras and Peter Brant, Wallenda was a $43,000 purchase by Dogwood Stable out of the 1992 Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale.

Competing under the Dogwood colors for trainer Frank Alexander, Wallenda won seven of 33 starts for earnings of $1,205,929.

Following a 2-year-old campaign highlighted by a win in the Grade 2 Cowdin Stakes at Aqueduct, Wallenda had his most prominent season at three. He established himself early with in-the-money efforts in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes that led to a start in the 1993 Kentucky Derby. Wallenda returned for a summer and fall campaign that featured wins in the Grade 1 Super Derby and Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, and ended with a start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Wallenda’s 4-year-old campaign was highlighted by wins in the Grade 3 Stuyvesant Handicap and the listed Suffolk Downs Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap, with placings in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and Gulfstream Park Handicap.

After one start in 1995, Wallenda was retired to Dixiana Farm in Lexington, Ky., also shuttling to New Zealand to stand the Southern Hemisphere breeding season. He was sold to Toyosato Stallion Center in Japan prior to the 2001 breeding season, and remained there for the rest of his stud career.

Wallenda sired 12 crops, with 178 winners and combined progeny earnings in excess of $8.9 million. He saw his greatest success in the Southern Hemisphere, siring New Zealand Group 3 winners Viva La Vie, So Lets and Forfar, as well as stakes winners Mr Hefner and Overrated. His leading North American runners included stakes winners Ispymytie and Bayonet, and he also sired Korean Group 3 winner Waromar.

After being pensioned from stud duty in Japan, funds were raised by Wallenda’s racetrack owner and trainer, members of his stallion syndicate, and fans to cover the $58,000 in expenses needed to return the horse to the U.S. and retire at Old Friends.

Blowen said Wallenda arrived at Old Friends with his lower-body issues, which were attended to by Dr. Bryan Fraley’s Equine Podiatry.

Though Wallenda’s ailments nagged him throughout the rest of his life, they may have also led to his greatest contribution. Over the course of Wallenda’s nine years at Old Friends, Fraley’s team broke new ground to keep the horse healthy and comfortable that could go on to do the same for other equines in the future.

“We have the shoes up on the wall that they experimented with on him,” Blowen said. “[Fraley] and his crew had actually manufactured shoes that didn’t even exist before Wallenda. The last shoe he had on to help him was a rocking chair kind of shoe.

“These guys did an amazing job. I’m told there were seven or eight very serious veterinary papers on his feet that have really changed the way some people look at these hoof issues now, because of the shoe we developed with him.”