Determined champion Hidden Lake euthanized at age 23

Hidden Lake, the 1997 Eclipse Award winner for champion older female, was euthanized Thursday morning at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, where she had been pensioned since 2009. The daughter of Quiet American was 23.

Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, attributed her death to infirmities of old age.

Owned and campaigned by Robert Clay and Tracy Farmer for three seasons, Hidden Lake was a graded stakes winner as a 3-year-old before blossoming into a force in the distaff ranks the following year. Hidden Lake won four straight graded stakes during her championship campaign, three of them Grade I contests, including the Hempstead Handicap at Belmont and the Go for Wand at Saratoga, a formidable performance after which she nearly collapsed from heat exhaustion.

At the time her jockey, Richard Migliore, summed up her grit in the Go for Wand saying “she reached down and found something that wasn’t there. That’s what champions do.”

Hidden Lake returned three months later to win the Grade I Beldame Stakes. In her final career start, Hidden Lake finished seventh in the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and retired with seven wins from 22 starts and $947,489 in earnings.

As a broodmare, Hidden Lake had increasing difficulty carrying foals to term. In 2009 then-owner Robert S. Evans donated Hidden Lake to Old Friends.

“Hidden Lake defined bravery, determination, and courage,” said Old Friends board member Barbara Fossum, who cared for the mare regularly at the farm. “She was dignified and generous to those who loved her —demanding and all heart. She personified everything an Eclipse Champion should be.”

Added Blowen, “Hidden Lake was all class, especially at the end. Her courage and fortitude were unmatched while on the track and off.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: 859-231-1676, @horseracinghl