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Alysheba

Alysheba

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Alysheba was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Thoroughbred
Thoroughbred
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed...

 race horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

 who won two legs of the Triple Crown
United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing
In the United States, the "Triple Crown" is usually the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, a series of three Thoroughbred horse races for three-year-old horses run in May and early June of each year consisting of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.While Daily Racing Form...

 in 1987. A successful sire, he produced 11 stakes winners.

A bay colt, Alysheba was sired by Alydar
Alydar
Alydar was a chestnut colt and an American thoroughbred race horse who was most famous for finishing a close second to Affirmed in all three races of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, a feat not achieved before or repeated since.-Racing career:Trained by John M...

 out of the mare Bel Sheba
Bel Sheba
Bel Sheba was an American thoroughbred racehorse. She was sired by the middle distance stallion Lt. Stevens, out of Belthazar, daughter of the great War Admiral....

, by Lt. Stevens. Bred by Preston Madden at Hamburg Place Farm in Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

, Alysheba was sold as a yearling to Dorothy and Pam Scharbauer for $500,000.

Trained by Jack Van Berg
Jack Van Berg
John Charles "Jack" Van Berg is an American Hall of Fame horse trainer. Born into a horse racing family, his father is Hall of Fame trainer, Marion Van Berg....

, in 1986 Alysheba had a modest two-year-old season and won only a maiden race. He finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile
Breeders' Cup Juvenile
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile is a Thoroughbred horse race for 2-year-old colts and geldings raced on dirt. It is held annually at a different racetrack in the United States or Canada as part of the Breeders' Cup World Championships....

, and lost the Hollywood Futurity
Hollywood Futurity
The Hollywood Futurity is an American Thoroughbred horse race run annually since 1981 at Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood, California. The Grade I race is open to two-year-old horses and run over a distance of 1 1/16 miles...

 in a photo finish. As a three-year-old, he underperformed in his prep races for the Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is one and a quarter mile at Churchill Downs. Colts and geldings carry...

 until it was discovered that he had an entrapped epiglottis
Epiglottis
The epiglottis is a flap that is made of elastic cartilage tissue covered with a mucous membrane, attached to the entrance of the larynx. It projects obliquely upwards behind the tongue and the hyoid bone, pointing dorsally. The term, like tonsils, is often incorrectly used to refer to the uvula...

. Surgery was successful, and he was entered in the Derby despite having only the maiden victory.

Triple Crown Races


In the Derby, he and jockey Chris McCarron
Chris McCarron
Christopher John "Chris" McCarron is a retired American thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Fame jockey. He is currently working as a racing analyst for TVG Network....

 were nearly knocked to the ground at the top of the stretch by Bet Twice
Bet Twice
Bet Twice was a multi-millionaire American thoroughbred Stallion racehorse. Foaled in Kentucky, he was sired by Sportin' Life, who in turn was the son of the great stallion and British Triple Crown champion Nijinsky, out of the mare Golden Dust. He was bred by William S. Farish III and E. J...

, who later became a major rival. Alysheba recovered from the collision and won the Derby in a slow time of 2:03 4/5 for 1 1/4 miles. He then came back with another win in the Preakness Stakes
Preakness Stakes
The Preakness Stakes is an American flat Thoroughbred horse race for three-year-olds held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a Grade I race run over a distance of 9.5 furlongs on dirt. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds ; fillies 121 lb...

, and attempted to become American racing's 12th Triple Crown winner in the Belmont Stakes
Belmont Stakes
The Belmont Stakes is an American Grade I stakes Thoroughbred horse race held every June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It is a 1.5-mile horse race, open to three year old Thoroughbreds. Colts and geldings carry a weight of 126 pounds ; fillies carry 121 pounds...

.

In the Belmont, Alysheba was required to race without the medication Lasix
Furosemide
Furosemide or frusemide is a loop diuretic used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and edema. It is most commonly marketed by Sanofi-Aventis under the brand name Lasix...

, which was prohibited at the time in New York racing. He ran a dull race, finishing fourth; Bet Twice won by 14 lengths. He next went to Monmouth Park for the Haskell Invitational where he met Bet Twice as well as Lost Code, a top-class speed horse who had won several Derbies run at minor racetracks. The three horses finished together at the wire, with Bet Twice winning in a driving finish. Later in the year, Alysheba lost to Java Gold on an off track in the Travers Stakes
Travers Stakes
The Travers Stakes is an American Grade I Thoroughbred horse race held at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York.First held in 1864, it was named for William R. Travers, the president of the old Saratoga Racing Association. His horse, Kentucky, won the first running of the Travers...

 at Saratoga Race Course
Saratoga Race Course
Saratoga Race Course is a Thoroughbred horse racing track in Saratoga Springs, New York, United States. It opened on August 3, 1863, and is the oldest organized sporting venue of any kind in the United States. It is typically open for racing from late July through early September.-History:John...

; he then won the Super Derby
Super Derby
The Super Derby is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually in September at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, Louisiana.Inaugurated in 1980, the Super Derby is open to 3-year-olds and the distance is 1 1/8 miles on the dirt. A Grade II event, it's the richest race held at Louisiana Downs...

 at Louisiana Downs, his final preparation race for the Breeders' Cup Classic
Breeders' Cup Classic
The Breeders' Cup Classic is a Grade I Weight for Age thoroughbred horse race for 3 year olds and older run at a distance of 1¼ miles on dirt. It is held annually at a different racetrack as part of the Breeders' Cup World Championships...

 (the world's richest horse race at the time).

Breeders' Cup


In the Breeders' Cup Classic Alysheba met 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand
Ferdinand (horse)
Ferdinand was a Thoroughbred racehorse who won the 1986 Kentucky Derby and 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic. He was voted the 1987 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.He entered stud in 1989 and was later sold to a breeding farm in Japan in 1994....

, in the first meeting of Kentucky Derby winners since Affirmed
Affirmed
Affirmed was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who was the eleventh and most recent winner of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing...

 met Spectacular Bid
Spectacular Bid
Spectacular Bid was an American Thoroughbred race horse. "The Bid" as he was known was one of the most dominant gallopers of his time...

 in the 1979 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Jockey Club Gold Cup
The Jockey Club Gold Cup, established in 1919, is a prestigious thoroughbred flat race open to horses of either gender three-years-old and up. It is typically the main event of the fall meeting at Belmont Park, just as the Belmont Stakes is of the spring meeting and the Travers Stakes is of the...

. The race lived up to expectations, with Ferdinand (ridden by 56-year-old Willie Shoemaker
Willie Shoemaker
William Lee Shoemaker was an American jockey.Referred to as "Bill", "Willie," and "The Shoe", William Lee Shoemaker was born in the town of Fabens, Texas. At 2.5 pounds , Shoemaker was so small at birth that he was not expected to survive the night...

) beating Alysheba in a photo finish by a nose. Alysheba lost the Horse of the Year
Horse of the Year
Horse of the Year is an honor given by various organizations worldwide in harness racing and thoroughbred horse racing.Some of the awards include:* Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year* Breeders' Cup World Championships Poll* European Horse of the Year...

 vote to Ferdinand, but was named Champion Three-Year-Old of 1987.

Four-year-old season


As a four-year-old in 1988, Alysheba won six Grade I stakes. At Santa Anita, he won the Strub Stakes
Strub Stakes
The Strub Stakes is an American race for thoroughbred horses run at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California each year.Currently a Grade II stakes race with a purse of $300,000, it is open to horses, age four, willing to race one and one-eighth miles on the synthetic surface of Santa Anita and offers...

 over Candi's Gold. Then he turned the tables on his nemesis Ferdinand with wins in the Santa Anita Handicap
Santa Anita Handicap
The Santa Anita Handicap is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually in early March at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. It is a Grade I race for horses four years old and up , and is considered the most important race for older horses in North America during the winter racing season...

 and (in another photo finish) the San Bernardino Handicap, with each horse carrying 127 pounds.

Alysheba suffered a loss to his old foes Bet Twice and Lost Code in the Pimlico Special
Pimlico Special
The Pimlico Special is an American thoroughbred horse race held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland in mid May. It is raced on dirt over a distance of 1³/16 miles . The race is currently open to horses age three and older and offers a purse of $250,000.The Pimlico Special was first run in...

, which had been revived for the first time in three decades. He suffered another loss to Cutlass Reality, who upset both Alysheba and Ferdinand in the Derby winners' final meeting in the Hollywood Gold Cup
Hollywood Gold Cup
The Hollywood Gold Cup is an American Grade I stakes race for thoroughbred horses inaugurated in 1938 at Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood, California. It was run as a handicap race until 1997 when it was switched to weight-for-age conditions...

. Alysheba then defeated Bet Twice in the Philip K. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park Racetrack
Monmouth Park Racetrack
Monmouth Park Racetrack is an American race track for thoroughbred horse racing in Oceanport, New Jersey. It is owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and is operated under a five-year lease as a partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.Monmouth Park's marquee event...

. In their careers, Alysheba and Bet Twice met nine times. Their rivalry ended in 1988; Alysheba defeated Bet Twice in four of those races. Bet Twice won three times, and neither won two of those races.

In the 35th running of the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park
Belmont Park
Belmont Park is a major thoroughbred horse-racing facility located in Elmont in the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County, New York, on Long Island adjoining New York City. It first opened on May 4, 1905...

 Alysheba beat an outstanding field, including 1988 Travers 1-2 finishers Forty Niner and Seeking the Gold; eventual Jockey Club Gold Cup
Jockey Club Gold Cup
The Jockey Club Gold Cup, established in 1919, is a prestigious thoroughbred flat race open to horses of either gender three-years-old and up. It is typically the main event of the fall meeting at Belmont Park, just as the Belmont Stakes is of the spring meeting and the Travers Stakes is of the...

 winner Waquoit
Waquoit
Waquoit was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who won races at short and long distances en route to career earnings of more than $2.2 million. Standing close to seventeen hands, Waquoit was sired by Relaunch, a multiple stakes winner who sired several top runners including two Breeders' Cup winners...

 and Florida Derby
Florida Derby
The Florida Derby is an American Thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old horses held annually at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida on the Saturday closest to the end of March or the first of April. Added to the racing schedule in 1952, the Grade 1 race is run at 1⅛ miles on the dirt...

 winner Brian's Time. He ran the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59 2/5, setting a track record. He also set the track record for 1 1/4 miles at the Meadowlands Racetrack
Meadowlands Racetrack
The Meadowlands Racetrack is a horse racing track at the MetLife Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States.The track hosts both thoroughbred racing and harness racing...

 in the Meadowlands Cup. Alysheba became the only horse in the modern era to run 10 furlongs under 2:00 three times in one calendar year.

Alysheba closed out his career on a dark, rainy evening at Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs, located in Central Avenue in south Louisville, Kentucky, United States, is a Thoroughbred racetrack most famous for hosting the Kentucky Derby annually. It officially opened in 1875, and held the first Kentucky Derby and the first Kentucky Oaks in the same year. Churchill Downs...

, winning the Breeders' Cup Classic
Breeders' Cup Classic
The Breeders' Cup Classic is a Grade I Weight for Age thoroughbred horse race for 3 year olds and older run at a distance of 1¼ miles on dirt. It is held annually at a different racetrack as part of the Breeders' Cup World Championships...

 over Seeking the Gold, Waquoit (one of the most noted off-track runners of the time), Forty Niner, and Cutlass Reality, and secured Horse of the Year
Horse of the Year
Horse of the Year is an honor given by various organizations worldwide in harness racing and thoroughbred horse racing.Some of the awards include:* Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year* Breeders' Cup World Championships Poll* European Horse of the Year...

 and Champion Older Horse honors.

Alysheba was ridden in 17 consecutive starts by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron
Chris McCarron
Christopher John "Chris" McCarron is a retired American thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Fame jockey. He is currently working as a racing analyst for TVG Network....

. He finished his career with a record of 11-8-2, out of 26 starts. His earnings totaled $6,679,242, a record at the time.

Breeding career and return home


Alysheba stood at Lane's End Farm in Woodford County, Kentucky
Woodford County, Kentucky
Woodford County is a county located in the heart of the Bluegrass region of the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 23,208. Its county seat is Versailles. The county is named for General William Woodford, who was with General George Washington at Valley Forge...

 until 1999, when he was sold to a breeding operation in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. Alysheba sired eleven stakes winners, of which his best was 1994 Canadian Horse of the Year Alywow
Alywow
Alywow was a Canadian Thoroughbred Champion filly racehorse and a member of the Canadian Racing Hall Of Fame.-Background:Alywow was owned and bred by David Willmot's Kinghaven Farms in King, Ontario. Her sire was Alysheba, the 1988 American Horse of the Year and a U.S. Racing Hall of Fame inductee...

. Another offspring of note was multiple stakes winner Desert Waves. Upon the death of Genuine Risk
Genuine Risk
Genuine Risk was a chestnut mare who won the 1980 Kentucky Derby and was the first filly to ever finish in the money in all three U.S. Triple Crown races. Ridden by Jacinto Vasquez, she finished second in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes...

 in August 2008, Alysheba became the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner.

In October 2008, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia returned Alysheba to his homeland as a gift to the American people. After spending eight years in the king's royal stables, Alysheba returned to the United States to live at the Kentucky Horse Park
Kentucky Horse Park
Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm and an educational theme park opened in 1978 in Lexington, Kentucky. It is located off Kentucky State Highway 1973 and Interstate 75 in northern Fayette County in the United States...

. He lived in the stall formerly occupied by Horse of the Year John Henry
John Henry (horse)
John Henry was an American Thoroughbred race horse who had 39 wins, with $6,591,860 in earnings. He was twice voted the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year in 1981 and 1984, with his 1981 selection is the only one whereby the victor received all votes cast for that award. John Henry was also...

 and across the aisle from Cigar
Cigar (horse)
Cigar , is a retired American Thoroughbred racehorse, who in 1995 and 1996 became the first American racehorse racing against top-class competition to win 16 consecutive races since the Triple Crown winner, Citation did so in 1948 and 1950...

, the leading money-earning Thoroughbred until surpassed by Curlin in 2008.

On Friday, March 27, 2009, at 11:13 pm, Alysheba was euthanized at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. "Due to a chronic degenerative spinal condition that led to ataxia
Ataxia
Ataxia is a neurological sign and symptom that consists of gross lack of coordination of muscle movements. Ataxia is a non-specific clinical manifestation implying dysfunction of the parts of the nervous system that coordinate movement, such as the cerebellum...

 and instability, Alysheba fell in his stall yesterday injuring his right hind femur," said Kathy Hopkins, the Horse Park’s director of equine operations. "Complicated by his advanced age, this trauma resulted in severe pain that did not respond to analgesic therapy. The resulting pain and suffering, and the inability to stand unaided, led to a joint decision for euthanasia." Alysheba was buried on Saturday, March 28 at the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions, across from the grave of John Henry.

Honors


Besides his three Eclipse Awards for 1988 Horse of the Year, 1988 Champion Older Male, and 1987 Champion Three-Year-Old Male, Alysheba won other honors. A statue of Alysheba has been erected at the front entrance to the AEGON Center
AEGON Center
The AEGON Center is a skyscraper in Downtown, Louisville, Kentucky and located at 400 West Market Street. The 35-story, high structure was designed by architect John Burgee with Philip Johnson and was completed in 1993 at the cost of $100 million...

 in Downtown Louisville
Downtown Louisville
Downtown Louisville is the largest central business district in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the urban hub of the Louisville, Kentucky Metropolitan Area. Its boundaries are the Ohio River to the north, Hancock Street to the east, York and Jacob Streets to the south, and 9th Street to the west...

, Kentucky. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame was founded in 1950 in Saratoga Springs, New York, to honor the achievements of American thoroughbred race horses, jockeys, and trainers...

 in 1993. In the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Alysheba was ranked number 42.

External links