A week after Dullahan was retired to stud, the three-time Grade I winner died due to complications of colic early Sunday morning.
Owned in part by Ray Bryan of Saratoga Springs, the third-place finisher in the 2012 Kentucky Derby was euthanized in Kentucky at 1 a.m.
The half-brother to Mine That Bird, the long-shot winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, the Dale Romans-trained Dullahan was third behind I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister in last year’s Derby, giving Bryan and Donegal Racing one of their biggest thrills as owners.
He set a track record while beating potential 2013 Horse of the Year Game On Dude in last year’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar and also won Grade I races in the Blue Grass at Keeneland last year and in the Breeders’ Futurity as a 2-year-old at Keeneland in 2011.
Shortly after that race, Dullahan competed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, and Bryan was approached by a friend in the paddock before the race to ask if he wanted to jump on the Donegal bandwagon.
Bryan, a money manager who grew to love thoroughbred racing as an extra on the set of “Billy Bathgate” as a Skidmore College student in 1994, jumped.
Since that moment, Bryan and Donegal Racing, whose managing partner is Jerry Crawford, enjoyed some terrific victories with Dullahan.
“He was extraordinary,” Bryan said. “You can never replace the memories we had. That’s why you get involved.”
Dullahan, a son of Even the Score, raced twice at Saratoga Race Course as a 2-year-old in 2011, before Bryan joined Donegal.
He was second in a maiden race and finished third on the turf in the Grade II With Anticipation at Saratoga.
He did his best work on synthetic, though, the hard-closing third in the Derby notwithstanding.
Dullahan was expected to continue racing despite a disappointing eight-place finish in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 25, but he was retired last week with a tendon injury.
He was at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., one of the most respected farms in North America, when he succumbed to colic.
Remarkably, his three Grade I scores were the only victories of his 18-race career. Dullahan retired with a record of 3-2-4 for earnings of over $1.7 million.
After a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year, Dullahan was sent to Dubai, where he was 11th in a prep race at Meydan Racecourse and 11th again in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
He came back with a third in the Arlington Handicap in July before ending his career with an eighth-place finish as Game On Dude soldified his Horse of the Year candidacy in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 25.
“When he was on, he was unbeatable on synthetic,” Bryan said. “It was amazing to be around him and to be able to show him to my family and friends.”