May 3, 2012: Dullahan on the track at Churchill Downs a few mornings before the Kentucky Derby.
On October 20, 2013 the horse racing world lost a beautiful soul. Dullahan was euthanized in the early hours of Sunday morning after an acute bout of colic, officially diagnosed during surgery at Hagyard Medical Institute as a ruptured colon and resulting infection. There was nothing they could do to save him, and that breaks my heart.
In a painful bit of irony, Dullahan was retired from racing just a week prior to his death and sent to unwind at WinStar Farm’s beautiful facilities in Versailles, KY while his owners decided where he would go for stud duty. I started looking through my pictures at that time for favorites I’ve taken of him over the last few years, thinking I might put together a retirement farewell. That wasn’t to be. Once I heard about his death, I put everything away for a week because it made me so sad to see him galloping around the track in photo after photo.
I have to say that I’ve never seen such an outpouring of sympathy and sorrow for a horse via social media as I saw for Dullahan. He may only have won three races in his career (all Grade 1 races, no less!), but he won countless hearts—mine included. I’ve written about Dullahan on several occasions because I thought he was such a handsome, happy horse. Those posts are listed here:
Bath Time at Churchill Downs
The Lovely Dullahan
My condolences to his connections: trainer Dale Romans, his staff, and all of his owners at Donegal Racing. I had the good fortune to meet one of Dullahan’s owners at Churchill Downs in 2012, the day before he ran 3rd in the Kentucky Derby. It was the end of the Kentucky Oaks race day and tired people were slowly filing out of the stands, but one rather tipsy gentleman in a bright green hat stood around the paddock chatting with us. He was so proud that his horse was running the next day in the big race, and he was ecstatic to find out that Dullahan was one of our favorites for the Derby.
I’ll always remember how happy he was just to be able to say, “Dullahan is my horse!”
May 5, 2012: Saddled and ready for the Kentucky Derby.
So from all of your fans whose hearts you stole, farewell Dullahan.
Nov 2, 2011: 2 year old Dullahan gallops in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Nov 2, 2011: The two most handsome colts on the track during Breeders’ Cup: Dullahan (left) and Shackleford.
May 2, 2012: Dullahan gallops past the finish line in the morning.
May 3, 2012: Bath time!
May 3, 2012: Standing still or at a run, he was always so handsome.
May 3, 2012: Working up a sweat in the morning.
May 3, 2012: Ears pricked and paying complete attention to the crowd.
May 3, 2012: Dullahan cools out after a morning gallop.
May 3, 2012: Dullahan paddock schooling.
May 5, 2012: The chaos of the paddock before the Kentucky Derby.
May 3, 2012: Those eyes!
May 5, 2012: Ready to run.
May 3, 2012: Dullahan enjoys a bath.
May 3, 2012: …Dullahan.