Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Advent of autumn marks last day of Summer Squall

When it rains, it pours.

On the first day of autumn, and just one day after Adena Springs Farm reported that top sire El Prado was dead of a heart attack at age 20, Lane's End follows up with the news that 1990 Preakness Stakes winner Summer Squall has been euthanized at age 22 due to "the infirmities of old age."

Summer Squall was 5-for-5 as a juvenile, including four stakes, two graded -- the Hopeful S.-G1 and the Saratoga Special-G2. But the 2-year-old championship went to Rhythm, whose only stakes win at 2 was the Breeders' Cup Juvenile-G1, a race Summer Squall had missed.

He won four of seven starts at age 3, all of them Grade 2 races or better: the Preakness; the Pennsylvania Derby-G2; the Jim Beam S.-G2; and the Blue Grass S.-G2, now a Grade 1 race. But the champion 3-year-old colt was Unbridled, who clearly earned the honors by winning the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Breeders' Cup Classic.

Summer Squall also was a graded-stakes winner at 4, in the Fayette H.-G2 at Keeneland.

In all, he won 13 of 20 starts, nine of those wins in stakes races, for $1,844,282.

Summer Squall had already left the stallion ranks, being pensioned in 2004 due to declining fertility. But while he was on the job, Summer Squall gave us several fine racehorses.

Most notable among his winners, of course, was near-Triple-Crown champion Charismatic. Foaled from the Drone mare Bali Babe, Charismatic won the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before finishing a hard-fought third in the Belmont Stakes while suffering a broken bone in his leg. Many race fans have vivid memories of jockey Chris Antley pulling up the horse and leaping off to support his mount's leg and calm the animal, perhaps saving the horse's life.

Summer Squall also sired millionaire females in Summer Colony (Personal Ensign H.-G1, etc.) and Storm Song, who was the 1997 Eclipse champion 2-year-old filly. Daughter Summerly won the 2005 Kentucky Oaks-G1.

Summer Squall was another product of the highly successful breeding operations of W.S. Farish III and W.S. Kilroy; a son of top sire Storm Bird out of the legendary Secretariat broodmare Weekend Surprise. This, of course, made him a half-brother in one of the more noteworthy bands of siblings in American racing and breeding of the latter 20th century.

His most prominent half-brother was Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old, now leading sire, A.P. Indy. Also among the family are stakes winning sire Eavesdropper; blackytpe-placed late-sire Honor Grades; and Hong Kong G2 winner Rainbow and Gold (registered in the U.S. as Garcia Marquez).

The sisters also could run -- and produce.

Summer Squall's G1-placed sister Weekend in Seattle is the dam of stakes winner and Travers-placed Mambo in Seattle. Half-sister Welcome Surprise was a G3 winner. Unraced sister Weekend Storm was the dam of Hollywood Derby-G1 winner Court Vision, multiple stakes winners Lord Snowden and Smart Surprise, stakes-placed City Weekend, and $121K-earner Kipling (sire of Breeders' Cup Mile-G1 winner Kip Deville) among her 10 winners. And modest winner Lassie's Legacy produced stakes-placer Aspiring.

The family is just one branch of the female-family legacy left by the great Buckpasser mare, Lassie Dear, who is in the tail-female line of many dozens of blacktype horses, including Lemon Drop Kid, who defeated the aforementioned Charismatic in that fateful '99 Belmont.

So, another sad farewell, the second in as many days. Rest in peace, Summer Squall.

Perhaps tomorrow will bring fairer skies for us all.


  1. The Chief wrote:

    Advent of autumn marks last day of Summer Squall

    When it rains, it pours.

    ha ha. very good.
    Sid - are you paying attention to this ?

    And just like that another star that I saw perform at The Meadowlands from two decades ago Summer Squall is gone.

    His Summer Colony will always be a personal favorite. I can't believe she was a foal of 1998. Where has time gone ?

  2. Summer Squall was very special to me - He was the first horse whose racing career I watched from start to finish. His Preakness win was wonderful. After he went to the breeding shed, I always looked for his sons and daughters.
    I am sad to see that at only 22, he passed. I would like to know what the 'infirmities of old age' means for a 22 year old. I would hope that
    he wasn't just put down because he would cost money to treat him. Sometimes I wonder if these horses are just viewed as comodities that are expendible when no longer money makers.

  3. Yes, it's raining: Gone West, El Prado, Summer Squall and Blue Hen mare Haveaheavenlytime by Halo.

  4. Anne, although I don't know any inside information I doubt there was anything nefarious in Summer Squall's death.

    After all, they'd taken care of him for the past five years while he was pensioned.

    22 seems young to me also (my sister was running barrels and winning with a Quarter Horse older than that), but some live longer than others.


I welcome comments, including criticism and debate. But jerks and the vulgar will not be tolerated.