Shigeki Yusa, stallion affairs manager for Japan Bloodhorse Breeders Association, announced on Twitter that prominent international sire Forty Niner died from old age May 18. The son of Mr. Prospector had just turned 35 May 11 and had received many birthday wishes from fans, Yusa Tweeted.
“We are truly saddened to lose him and are grateful for all the support from his fans over the years,” he said
Bred and raced by Claiborne Farm, Forty Niner was a member of the memorable 3-year-old crop of 1988. The group of colts also included Alysheba, Risen Star, Preakness winner and son of Claiborne’s Secretariat, plus Seeking the Gold and Private Terms, both of whom were bred and raced by longtime Claiborne clients Ogden Phipps and Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Janney, respectively.
Winning five of his six starts as a 2-year-old, Forty Niner putting together a championship season with victories in the Sanford Stakes (G2), Futurity Stakes (G1), Champagne Stakes (G1), and Breeders’ Futurity (G2).
He kept his top form at 3 when he won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and was runner-up by a neck to Brian’s Time in the Florida Derby (G1). Forty Niner was second by a neck in the Kentucky Derby to Winning Colors, then was seventh after dueling for the early lead with the Derby winner in the Preakness Stakes.
Freshened with a brief layoff, he tuned up with an allowance race win at Monmouth before capturing two major summer Grade 1 events for 3-year-olds, the Haskell Invitational and Travers Stakes, defeating Seeking the Gold both times in memorable photo finishes.
Watch Forty Niner and Seeking The Gold battle down to the wire in the 1988 Haskel.
After finishing second by a neck to champion Alysheba in the Woodward (G1) at Saratoga, Forty Niner won the inaugural NYRA Mile (now the Cigar Mile) before concluding his career with a fourth-place finish behind Alysheba, Seeking the Gold, and Waquoit in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on a muddy Churchill Downs track.
Forty Niner surges to take the inaugural NYRA Mile In 1988 at Aqueduct.
Forty Niner returned to Claiborne to begin his stud career in 1989, and remained there through the 1995 season before being sold for $10 million to the Japan Racing Association for stud duty at the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association’s Shizunai Stallion Station. He was pensioned in 2007 and lived out his life comfortably at Shizunai.
Overall, he sired 57 stakes winners, including 33 graded/group stakes winners, worldwide. The most influential of his foals has been Distorted Humor, a four-time graded stakes winner who went on to sire Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner and Eclipse champion Funny Cide, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer, Grade 1 winner and classic sire Flower Alley, and 16 other Grade/Group 1 winners.
Still active at WinStar Farm in Kentucky, Distorted Humor is a perennial leading sire and has also developed into a leading broodmare sire, with his daughters producing champion and leading money winner Arrogate, multiple Grade 1 winner and white-hot young sire Constitution, and multiple Grade 1 winners Elate, New Money Honey, and Practical Joke.
Forty Niner also sired 1996 Belmont Stakes winner Editor’s Note, also winner of the Super Derby (G1), and eight-time graded stakes winner Coronado’s Quest, who matched his sire’s Haskell-Travers double Grade 1 wins in 1998.
Forty Niner’s other top-level progeny included Grade 1 winners Ecton Park, Gold Fever, Marley Vale, and Nine Keys, and Japanese Group 1 winners Admire Hope, Meiner Select and Utopia.
Past The Wire Staff