Charismatic was Surprise Winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes
Charismatic, the 21-year-old stallion and dual classic winner of the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes died Feb. 19. He returned to the United States from the JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station in Japan on December 4, 2016, and was pensioned at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY.
The announcement of his sudden passing was made Feb. 19 by Old Friends president Michael Blowen. The cause of death is unknown and the results of a full necropsy are pending.
“Right now, everyone is pretty much inconsolable,” said Blowen. “Last night, at 6:30, he was fine. He was a really tough horse and he deserved a much longer retirement. But none of us, unfortunately, has a magic wand. Everyone at Old Friends takes solace from the few great months that this great Champion gave us.”
Bred by Kentucky by Parrish Hill Farm and William Farish, and trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Charismatic (Summer Squall-Bali Babe, by Drone) was a surprise winner of the 1999 Kentucky Derby at 31-1 odds under the late rider Chris Antley. Charismatic went on to capture the Preakness Stakes at 8-1 and found himself an unlikely Triple Crown contender.
But in the Belmont Stakes the chestnut colt suffered multiple fractures in his left front leg just a few strides before the wire. It was only through the heroic efforts of jockey Chris Antley, who quickly dismounted and held up Charismatic‘s injured left front leg off the ground, that the injuries were career ending and not life ending.
Charismatic earned that year’s Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old colt, as well as Horse of the Year honors, and retired with five wins from 17 starts and earnings of $2,038,064. He entered stud at Lane’s End in 2000 and stood there for three seasons before relocating to Japan in 2002.
From 426 foals of racing age, Charismatic is the sire of 374 starters and 265 winners for progeny earnings of more than $44.5 million. His runners in the United States were led by Sun King, who won four graded stakes, including the 2005 Pennsylvania Derby, and earned more than $2.2 million.
The cause of death will be determined soon, but Charismatic’s death was a surprise and sad day for racing fans and his connections, including trainer D. Wayne Lucas.
“The sad part is that he was doing so well,” Lukas said. “They made such an effort to get him home. And when I went out and looked at him I couldn’t believe the condition of him. He was in beautiful shape. We spent the day out there with him and took pictures and everything and it looked like it was going to be forever. But you never can predict these things, and they don’t know, I think, really what happened yet.
“He was a part of our career – a big part of it,” Lukas continued. “You don’t replace Derby winners very easy. I really loved that horse. I was very fond of him. He was a knockout looker. When you get one that’s such an overachiever – I really thought that he might end up in the claiming ranks his entire career and the next thing he’s going for the Triple Crown – it was just a joy to be around him.”