Tokyo Sunday Silence was the "ugly duckling" no one seemed to want. Yet after going unsold at auction, he went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
The winner of the first two Triple Crown races in 1989 died Monday from complications of a disease in his left foreleg. The 16-year-old horse died of heart failure on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan.
"For the last three days, his condition has been getting worse, and we used a lot of strong medicines," said Eisuke Tokutake, spokesman for the Shadai Stallion Station. "But today, he lay down and couldn't get up."
The stable said last week it was pondering whether to put Sunday Silence down. The stallion had developed laminitis a debilitating disease of the hoof a little more than two weeks ago.
Sunday Silence, who fostered an exciting rivalry with Easy Goer, won nine races in 14 career starts, earning $4,968,554. He was inducted into horse racing's Hall of Fame in 1996. Few would have predicted such success from Sunday Silence. The son of Halo, by Wishing Well, was taken to auction both as a yearling and as a 2-year-old, and both times he was bought back by principal owner Arthur Hancock after bidders didn't meet his minimum price.
In 1989, Sunday Silence became the fourth horse since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown, only to fall short in the 11â2-mile Belmont Stakes.
In June 1990, the horse was sold to Shadai Farm in Japan and was the country's champion sire from 1994 to 2000. During that span, his progeny produced 457 winners, 43 in stakes races.