The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame extends condolences to the connections of Chief Bearhart, twice named Canada’s Horse of the Year who died of heart failure on September 18 at the age of 19, in Japan.
The Sam-Son Farms legend, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of
Fame in 2002, had been standing stud at the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’
Association Shizunai Stallion Station (JBBA).
“As Chief Bearhart had been suffering from ill health since early April, we stopped
breeding him at that time and had been treating him as best as we can, but
unfortunately we are very much saddened that our efforts have come to an
end,” the JBBA said in statement. “We were hoping he might recover
and be able to sire many more winners. Although that did not happen, nothing
changes the fact that he was a very good sire for us, and we are very happy to
have had the opportunity to stand him.”
Unplaced in his lone two-year-old start, Chief Bearhart would be named Canada’s Turf
Champion in his sophomore campaign taking the Breeders’ Stakes by a resounding
9 1/2-lengths, as well as a second-place effort in the Canadian International
behind eventual Eclipse Award-winning turf male Singspiel.
In 1997, he was named Canada’s Horse of the Year, champion older male, and
champion grass male, while also earning an Eclipse Award as North America’s
leading turf male. The accolades came on the back of an extraordinary season
that included a win in the 1997 Grade 1Breeders’ Cup Turf at Hollywood Park
in stakes-record time of 2:23.92.
Chief Bearhart’s 1997 campaign also included a famous Woodbine score in the Grade 1
Canadian International Stakes, as well as local wins in the Grade 2 Sky Classic
Handicap, and the Grade 3 Niagara Breeders’ Cup Handicap. He also shipped to Keeneland
to win the Grade 3 Elkhorn Stakes.
Rick Balaz, President and General Manager of Sam-Son Farms, held their former charge in high regard.
“We were very sad to hear of Chief Bearhart’s death,” said Balaz. “He was an
exceptional individual. It certainly brings back memories of some very exciting
times. None more special then his Breeders’ Cup win in California. We were
certainly fortunate to have been able to campaign such a great champion.”
Bred in Ontario by Richard D. Maynard, Chief Bearhart was again named Canada’s Horse of the Year
and champion turf male in 1998. His biggest win that year came in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap
at Belmont Park.
Chief Bearhart completed his racing career with a fourth-place finish in the Group 1
Japan Cup, in Tokyo, on November 29, 1998. He retired with a record of 12-5-3
from 26 starts and earnings of $3,381,557. He was bought by the Japan Racing
Association that year for stud duty and returned to Japan in 1999.
At stud, Chief Bearhart sired group stakes winners in 10 consecutive years
beginning in 2003.
Additional details about Chief Bearhart’s career are available at: Chief Bearhart
With files from Woodbine Entertainment and Daily Racing Form