Gato Del Sol, who won the 1982 Kentucky Derby as a homebred for Arthur B. Hancock III and Leone J. Peters, was euthanatized Aug. 7 at Hancock’s Stone Farm near Paris, Ky. The 28-year-old pensioned stallion was foaled and raised at Stone.
“He was getting old, and he started to go downhill,” Hancock said about the gray horse. “It was just time, and we figured it was the humane thing to do. We buried him close to our house and will be setting up a marker near the grave.
“Right now, my wife, Staci, and I are looking toward the positive. He was so wonderful to us, winning the Kentucky Derby.
“At Staci’s insistence, we got him back from Germany and gave him a great home, and he lived happily ever after. He was a wonderful horse.”
Gato Del Sol, who entered stud at Stone Farm, was sold in 1992 to stand in Germany, but was bought back in 1999 after Staci Hancock started to worry about the horse’s well being. An earlier episode that involved the slaughterhouse death in Sweden of former U.S. stallion Exceller precipitated her decision.
Trained by Eddie Gregson, Gato Del Sol was a surprise winner of the Run for the Roses. Starting from post 18 at odds of 21-1, he charged home to win by 2 1/2 lengths under Eddie Delahoussaye.
The victory proved historic because it was the first Kentucky Derby triumph as an owner for a member of the Hancock family, which has been breeding and racing horses on a major scale since the late 1800s. Hancock thanked his father, Arthur. B. “Bull” Hancock Jr., for his good fortune.
In a surprise move, Gato Del Sol bypassed the Preakness Stakes. He tried the Belmont Stakes, but was well beaten by Conquistador Cielo in a runner-up effort.
Gato Del Sol raced as a 6-year-old and was retired with seven wins from 39 races and earnings of $1,340,107. A stakes winner four years, he also won Del Mar Futurity at 2, the Cab