Monday, February 20, 2017

RIP Charismatic

It's always sad when a great champion passes away and the Derby and Preakness winner, Charismatic died unexpectedly in Kentucky over the weekend.  He won the 1999 Derby, the Preakness and was saved by his heroic jockey, Chris Antley, in the Belmont where he finished second. Antley pulled him up immediately at the race, and held his fractured ankle, saving him, many said from a life threatening injury. Lucky for him it was only career-ending.

Charismatic was owned by the late Robert Lewis and his wife, Beverly Lewis, who bought the horse for $200,000.  In less than four months in 1999, he went from a claimer at Santa Anita to the Kentucky Derby. 

Charismatic retired with a record of 5 wins in 17 starts and earnings of $2,038,064. In addition to the title of Horse of the Year, Charismatic was honored as the outstanding 3-year-old male of 1999.
Charismatic began his stud career at co-breeder William S. Farish’s Lane’s End in 2000. He moved to Japan beginning with the 2003 breeding season, after being purchased by the Japan Racing Association.

From 426 foals of racing age, Charismatic is the sire of 374 starters and 265 winners for progeny earnings of more than $44.5 million. His runners in the United States were led by Sun King, who won four graded stakes, including the 2005 Pennsylvania Derby, and earned more than $2.2 million. He placed in eight Grade 1 events. Charismatic also is the sire of Grade 3 winner Gouldings Green and Wonder Acute, a multiple group stakes winner in Japan.

Charismatic was pensioned at the end of last year in order to move to Old Friends, a retirement home for race horses, which had publicly said several times in the past that it stood ready to accept him upon the end of his stud career. His return journey was sponsored in large part by a gift from his former owners via their Robert and Beverly Lewis Foundation. The Lewises’ other Derby and Preakness winner, Silver Charm (1997), also calls Old Friends home. Tito’s Handmade Vodka, another supporter of Old Friends, also made a donation in support of Charismatic.

“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.

Charismatic is now with his former jockey, Chris Antley who died at age 34, after battling depression and drugs much of his life.  It's sad that he wasn't able to enjoy his retirement.  May he rest in peace.


  1. This horse had such a great story.
    As much as we want to feel good about bringing these old horses home, they seldom last long. We uproot them from a home they know and subject them to stressful transatlantic flights and, too often, we just bring them home to die within a few months. I don't know what the answer to this is, but I suspect we need to really evaluate whether we are truly serving the horses.

  2. Reports subsequently indicated he'd somehow fractured his pelvis in his stall. It's very sad for the horse and all who loved and cared for him and worked so hard to bring him back to the US for good, but who's to say if such an injury couldn't have happened to him just as easily if he'd remained in Japan? Stuff happens with horses and we can't wrap them in bubble wrap. While older horses in their 20s sometimes can have issues with a change to their location and routine, many don't, so it's not inevitable. This tragic injury doesn't appear to have anything to do with his relocation or his degree of contentment in KY.


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