Champion St Nicholas Abbey euthanized

awincze@herald-leader.comJanuary 14, 2014 

St Nicholas Abbey, ridden by Joseph O'Brien, won the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, passing several horses through the stretch.

MARK CORNELISON

After months of battling illness and injury, multiple Grade/Group I winner St Nicholas Abbey was euthanized after suffering a bout of colic Tuesday morning, Coolmore Stud announced.

"Regretfully St Nicholas Abbey has lost his brave battle after suffering a colic this morning," Coolmore said in a statement on its website. "Surgery revealed a severe strangulating colon torsion that was unviable and he had to be euthanized on humane grounds. This is extremely unfortunate as St Nicholas Abbey had been in terrific form, the laminitis was resolving very well and the fracture had healed better than expected."

A three-time winner of England's Group I Coronation Cup and champion of the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, St Nicholas Abbey fractured his right front pastern during a routine workout at trainer Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle stables in Ireland last July. The 7-year-old son of Montjeu underwent surgery at nearby Fethard Equine Hospital to repair the fracture and had emergency surgery days later for colic.

Though St Nicholas Abbey appeared to be making progress on numerous occasions, he developed laminitis in his left front foot in November as a result of his complications.

"Coolmore would like to thank the surgeons, the international experts and all the staff at Fethard Equine Hospital who gave him such excellent care 24/7," the operation added in its statement. "We would also like to thank the multitude of well-wishers for all the cards and messages of support for St Nicholas Abbey. He will be buried in the graveyard here at Coolmore."

Owned and campaigned by John Magnier's Coolmore operation, St Nicholas Abbey showcased his class by winning six Group I races while competing on three different continents. His 21/4-length win in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf was an emotional highlight as he was ridden by O'Brien's then 18-year-old son, Joseph, making him the youngest jockey ever to claim a Breeders' Cup victory.

That 2011 season also marked the first of St Nicholas Abbey's three consecutive victories in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. Prior to completing that treble in the 2013 Coronation Cup, the bay horse scored a 21/4-length win in the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan last March, defeating Japanese mare Gentildonna.

"This horse is very tough, very special, gives his best every day, relaxes, and finds plenty," Joseph O'Brien said of St Nicholas Abbey after his Dubai victory.

St Nicholas Abbey won nine of 21 career starts with $7,863,492 in earnings. He was named Europe's champion 2-year-old colt in 2009 having won the Group I Racing Post Trophy in just his third career start.

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