Charismatic was Duel Classic Winner of Preakness and Kentucky Derby

Charismatic, the 1999 Horse of the Year who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, has died. The 21-year-old stallions passing was announced Feb. 19 by Old Friends president Michael Blowen.

“Right now, everyone is pretty much inconsolable,” said Blowen. “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.”

Charismatic was a rags to riches story, winning just 2 of his first 10 races including a claiming race at Santa Anita in Feb., 1999 after a horse was disqualified for causing interference in the stretch. Charismatic ran fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, and just two weeks later he won his first stakes race at Keeneland in the Lexington Stakes, the last-chance race to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

Charismatic would pull a shocker at 31-1 odds to win the Kentucky Derby, and then rallied again to win the Preakness Stakes at 8-1. The late jockey Chris Antley was aboard for the rides, including his bid to win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes. But Charismatic’s run to glory and his career ended that day, as the chestnut colt suffered multiple fractures in his left front leg just a few strides before the wire. He finished 3rd in the Belmont, but jockey Chris Antley may have saved his life following the finish. Antley dismounted and held up Charismatic‘s injured left front leg off the ground, until doctors and emergency personnel arrived. The injuries ended Charismatic’s career.

Charismatic entered stud at Lane’s End in 2000 and stood there for three seasons before relocating to Japan in 2002. He sired 374 starters and 265 winners for progeny earnings of more than $44.5 million. He returned to the United States from the JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station in Japan on December 4, 2016, and was pensioned at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY.

Charismatic’s trainer, Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lucas, saw him in December.

“The sad part is that he was doing so well,” Lukas said. “They made such an effort to get him home. And when I went out and looked at him I couldn’t believe the condition of him. He was in beautiful shape. We spent the day out there with him and took pictures and everything and it looked like it was going to be forever. But you never can predict these things, and they don’t know, I think, really what happened yet.

“He was a part of our career – a big part of it,” Lukas continued. “I really loved that horse. I was very fond of him. He was a knockout looker. When you get one that’s such an overachiever – I really thought that he might end up in the claiming ranks his entire career and the next thing he’s going for the Triple Crown – it was just a joy to be around him.”

Charismatic earned the 1999 Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old colt, as well as Horse of the Year honors, and retired with five wins from 17 starts and earnings of $2,038,064. His sire, Summer Squall, was the winner of the 1990 Preakness Stakes, and was euthanized in 2009.

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