'74 Preakness victor Little Current dead at 32

Champ also of Belmont was oldest living winner of a Triple Crown race

Horse Racing

January 21, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Little Current, 32, the oldest living winner of a Triple Crown race, died Sunday in Monroe, Wash., where he had lived in obscurity but comfort in the care of admiring veterinarians.

The regally bred horse who was once visited in Kentucky by the Queen of England won the 1974 Preakness and Belmont, both by seven lengths. Many believe he would have won the Kentucky Derby, becoming one of the immortal winners of the Triple Crown, had he not been blocked repeatedly in the record 23-horse field. After that, the field was limited to 20.

Little Current began showing signs of abdominal distress late Saturday. Ann and Mark Hansen, veterinarians who had cared for him the past eight years, treated him overnight in their clinic. Finally, at 5 a.m. Sunday, Ann Hansen euthanized Little Current.

"The good news is it all happened very quickly, and he was feeling good, doing well, up to when he got sick," Ann said. "My husband's comment was: `Dignified unto death.' He was a class act up to the end."

Little Current won only two races other than the Preakness and Belmont, but because of those victories he was named champion 3-year-old. A son of the legendary European champion Sea-Bird, Little Current was syndicated for $4 million as a stallion at John W. Galbreath's Darby Dan farm in Kentucky.

Doug Arnold, who later stood Little Current at stud, plans on burying the horse and erecting a monument at his Buck Pond Farm near Lexington, Ky.

Little Current's death leaves Spectacular Bid, 27, as the oldest living winner of a Triple Crown race. The winner of the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness resides in Unadilla, N.Y.

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