02/28/2007 1:00AM

Who Doctor Who dies at 24

Email

Who Doctor Who, one of Nebraska's all-time great runners, was euthanized on Feb. 22 at Herb Riecken's farm in Fremont, Neb., due to laminitis at age 24.

Bred by Marvin Iverson in Nebraska and foaled in 1983, Who Doctor Who long reigned as the state's top sprinter for owner and trainer Riecken. He was Nebraska's all-time leading money earner with $813,870 until his mark was eclipsed by Dazzling Falls in 1995.

"It was something we had to do," Riecken said in a radio interview Wednesday morning. "It wasn't something we were looking forward to, but Mother Nature had taken its toll. We couldn't help him anymore and he couldn't support weight on his front feet. The last couple of years it showed up more and more, and you could see he wasn't comfortable."

Who Doctor Who rolled up a career mark of 33-16-5 in 64 starts, including numerous stakes wins at Ak-Sar-Ben, Prairie Meadows, and Canterbury Downs over a career that spanned eight seasons. A highly popular runner, Who Doctor Who would draw larger than usual crowds for many of his races.

Among his memorable races was the 1988 Chaucer Cup at Canterbury, where he suffered a nose loss to Don's Irish Melody after 6 1/2 furlongs in near world-record time of 1:14. He also took part in a highly celebrated match race against Explosive Girl at Ak-Sar-Ben that year, defeating the Don Von Hemel-trained filly by 3 1/2 lengths after a mile and 70 yards.

"He was born one of those freak runners," Riecken said. "He was never a nervous horse at all, he was a pleasure to be around. He lived out his years in the pasture and I'm glad we could give back to him."

* Saturday's feature at Fonner Park is named for one of Who Doctor Who's female rivals, Orphan Kist, the state's all-time leading earner among mares. Orphan Kist, a foal of 1984, was bred by Jane and Michal Moreland and campaigned by Jane's sister, Linda Davidson. She ran 100 times in her career, posting a mark of 28-28-16 with earnings of $631,997. She is the dam of five foals to race, all winners, but none has ever approached her success on the track.

Turf Paradise

Tie Rod, who established himself as the top local 3-year-old male with a smart win in the Arizona Derby at Turf Paradise on Feb. 17, may next take a shot at turf.

"The derby was the goal," said Joe Johnson, the horse's trainer and part-owner, with John Pendergrast. "As for his next start, perhaps the Tempe."

The Tempe, for 3-year-olds at one mile on the turf, will be run March 24.

Ridden by Juan Rivera in the Arizona Derby, Tie Rod forced the pace, took over at the head of the lane, and kept well ahead of the 4-5 favorite, Southern California shipper Gregorian Bay, to win by 2 3/4 lengths. His sire, Old Topper, was off the board in his only turf try but has had success as a turf sire. Tie Rod's only sibling to try turf, One Fourteen, has won on the surface.

Tie Rod also won the traditional Arizona Derby prep, the Rattlesnake, by more than 10 lengths.

* Relato del Gato, smashing winner of last week's Phoenix Gold Cup for his fourth straight victory, will now get some well-deserved time off.

"After a 42 half, a good rest," owner Robert Bone said.

Jockey Glenn Corbett and Relato Del Gato ($24.40) zipped the half-mile in 42.78 seconds, en route to a final clocking of 1:07.68, a second off the six-furlong world record of 1:06.60 set locally by G Malleah in 1995.

"I've never seen a 42 half," said trainer Keith Bennett. "I had no idea he was flying that fast."

- Michael Hammersly