Charismatic, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1999, died Sunday morning.
“We are devastated,” the Georgetown farm said on its Twitter account. “CHARISMATIC 1996-2017 died unexpectedly this morning. Our hearts are broken for all who loved him.”
Charismatic fell short in his Triple Crown bid, finishing third behind Lemon Drop Kid and Vision And Verse in the Belmont Stakes after pulling up lame down the stretch.
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His jockey, the late Chris Antley, was credited for likely saving the colt’s life by jumping off the horse when he realized something was wrong. Antley held Charismatic’s broken leg off the ground until veterinarians arrived.
“He instinctively came to the aid of the horse. It was a very heroic and admirable circumstance,” Charismatic’s owner, Bob Lewis, said afterward.
The injury ended Charismatic’s racing career. He was subsequently named Horse of the Year.
Charismatic’s cause of death is unknown at this time and a full necropsy is pending.
“Right now, everyone is pretty much inconsolable,” Old Friends president Michael Blowen said Sunday in a news release. “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.”
Prior to coming to Old Friends, Charismatic had been standing stud in Japan since 2002.
Robyn Roach, the widow of Tom Roach, the co-breeder of Charismatic, said the horse’s return to Kentucky had been a decade in the making.
“I never thought he would come back,” she told the Herald-Leader for a story published on Dec. 12.
Charismatic joined other prominent Thoroughbreds at Old Friends, including 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem and Affirmed Success, a son of 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Charismatic’s son, I’m Charismatic, also resides at the farm.
Charismatic’s sire was Summer Squall, the winner of the 1990 Preakness Stakes, who was euthanized in 2009. Charismatic’s dam was Bali Babe.
During his career, Charismatic had 17 starts, five wins, two places, four shows and earned $2,038,064.
Charismatic’s first stakes victory came at Keeneland in the Lexington Stakes, the last-chance race to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby.