Storm Cat, the thoroughbred stallion who once commanded one of the highest breeding fees in North America, died Wednesday at Overbrook Farm in Lexington. He was 30.
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Ric Waldman, manager of Storm Cat’s stud career, said the horse was euthanized because of complications from old age. Waldman said Storm Cat appeared to have cancer, but tests were not performed because they could have caused him pain.
”We had enough indications that he did have cancer,” Waldman said. ”We thought, given his age, that it was the humane thing to do.”
Storm Cat was buried at Overbrook Farm, where he lived after his retirement from stud duty in 2008.
Waldman said Storm Cat loved peppermints, and he fed him his last treats Tuesday.
”Oh, I am terribly sad,” he said. ”My eyes teared up.”
Storm Cat made only eight starts over two years, winning four times, but he became one of the world’s leading sires and had a profound influence on the thoroughbred breed.
He had produced at least 160 stakes winners who combined to top $127 million. Among his offspring were 91 yearlings that sold for more than $1 million.
When Storm Cat retired from racing in 1987, his stud fee was $30,000, Overbrook Farm said in a news release. During his 20-year stud career, his fee at one point rose to $500,000, the farm said.
His offspring included 1994 Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes winner Tabasco Cat, and 1994 Kentucky Oaks winner Sardula.
The late William T. Young bred, owned and raced Storm Cat, the son of Storm Bird. Storm Cat’s grandsires were racing legends Northern Dancer and Secretariat, and Storm Cat proved particularly effective in passing on quality racing genes.
Storm Cat was the leading sire in North America in 1999 and 2000 and also was a top-five sire in 1994, 1995, 1998 and 2002. He topped the North American juvenile sire list six times between 1992 and 2002, and his offspring regularly brought high prices at major sales.
Two colts sired by Storm Cat sold for $6.3 million and $9.7 million at the Keeneland September Yearling Sales in Lexington in 2005. A year later, a Storm Cat colt at the same auction fetched $8.2 million.
Such success no doubt was the reason Storm Cat commanded a $500,000 breeding fee for a live foal during his peak as a stallion. Young called Storm Cat his favorite horse.
”I love him like a brother,” Young said in 2000.
As a racehorse, the Pennsylvania-bred Storm Cat finished first or second in seven of his eight starts. As a 2-year-old in 1985, he won the Grade 1 Young America Stakes at Meadowlands and finished second by a nose to Tasso in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Storm Cat had surgery for bone spurs in one of his knees that December, which caused the horse to miss the Kentucky Derby and race only twice as a 3-year-old before being retired.
Storm Cat finished his racing career with earnings of $570,610.
Waldman said Storm Cat and his stablemate Clock Stopper were the only two Overbrook-owned horses left on the farm, which now leases its facilities.