He was quite “Da Hoss”: Two-time Breeders Cup champ dies at 30

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Da Hoss in his winter paddock at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2018.
Da Hoss in his winter paddock at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2018. © Nicole Meiner/Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

After more than two decades of retirement, two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile Winner Da Hoss has died at the age of 30 at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Old age caught up on Da Hoss, who died on January 2. He had been living at the park since January 2000, following a five-year racing career in which he won $US1.9 million.

From the Welsh Saint mare Jolly Saint, Da Hoss was the lowest priced Gone West foal at the Keeneland September sales, when he sold as a yearling for $6000 to Wall Street Racing. After racing as a two-year-old for trainer Kevin Eikleberry and Wall Street Racing, an 85% interest in Da Hoss was sold to Prestonwood Farm. He was immediately shipped to Fair Hill training center to start training with Michael Dickinson and Joan Wakefield.

Da Hoss is one of only five horses to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile twice, and the only horse to win twice in non-consecutive years. Between the 1996 and 1998 Breeders’ Cup Races, Da Hoss was injured three times and did not race for nearly two years. His inspiring finish in the 1998 Breeder’s Cup Mile produced one of Tom Durkin’s most memorable race calls, as he exclaimed: “The greatest comeback since Lazarus!”

“He was our horse of a lifetime,” said trainer Michael Dickinson of Tapeta Farm. “We all loved him. He brought us so many highs, even with his problems, we knew he would never let us down. He gave his all and loved to win. He was spoiled but deserved to be.

“He loved going out in one of his grass fields with his best friend Boomer for two or three hours every day. He knew he was special. It was comforting to know he was always well looked after by everyone at the Kentucky Horse Park where he enjoyed a wonderful retirement.”

Kentucky Horse Park Interim Deputy Executive Director Nicole Rivera said Da Hoss would be greatly missed.

“He was a fan favorite as he proved that spirit can triumph over adversity,” she said.

Da Hoss (January 18, 1992-January 2, 2022).
Da Hoss (January 18, 1992-January 2, 2022). © Kentucky Horse Park

“I would like to extend a special thank you to Rob Willis and the Hall of Champions staff for the great care and affection they showed Da Hoss during his time here at the park.”

Da Hoss shared the Kentucky Horse Park Hall of Champions with other Champion horses including Thoroughbreds Go For Gin, Funny Cide and Point Given, Standardbred pacers Western Dreamer and Won the West, and Standardbred trotter Mr. Muscleman.

Like the other great Hall of Champions horses who died in retirement at the park, Da Hoss will be buried in the Memorial Walk of Champions.

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