Afternoon Deelites spent the last 12 years of his life here before claimed by colic in April. At 31 his passing came just six days after that of Burt Bacharach, the legendary songwriter who bred and raced him so long ago.
He was Clark Gable handsome and ran to those good looks as a Grade 1-winning millionaire—his victories including an easy win over future Derby winner Thunder Gulch in the ‘94 Hollywood Futurity. Years later, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux still referred to Afternoon Deelites as among the fastest he’d ever ridden.
Retired to Airdrie Stud, he later relocated to Louisiana where he led the state sire list four times.
Afternoon Deelites got 26 stakes winners before pensioning to Old Friends in 2011. Here, he became a popular attraction, in part because he spent most days in the barn where visitors could get up close and personal with him. And he was kind. Not “gentle” in the Alphabet Soup sense of the word, but of a regal mindset that encouraged him to behave more or less decorously with guests. Over the years, I must have fed him a thousand carrots and never once did he display overt eagerness; begging wasn’t in his DNA. Nor was gratitude. Afternoon Deelites accepted the carrots as his due, while appraising me with those intelligent, expressive eyes that never failed to melt my heart. Day trips to the barn won’t be the same without him.
Afternoon Deelites descends from Damascus on his sire’s side and Secretariat on his dam’s.
Raced by composer Burt Bacharach and conditioned by Richard Mandella, the West Virginia-bred went from his victorious first start right into stakes company, polishing off The Hollywood Prevue Breeder’s Cup (G3), then drawing away from Thunder Gulch to take the G1 Hollywood Futurity. At three, Afternoon Deelites continued his winning streak in the San Vicente (G3) and stretching out to two turns in the San Felipe (G2). He prevailed in the Malibu S (G1) at Santa Anita, and at four won the Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup H at Keeneland.
Always piloted by Kent Desormeaux, Afternoon Deelites earned $1,061,193 lifetime and won 7 of his 12 starts. He stood at Airdre Stud for much of his breeding career, then at Clear Creek Stud in Louisiana.
Old Friends is grateful to Val Murrell of Clear Creek for the privilege of retiring him to our Kentucky farm. Afternoon Deelites’ top progeny were graded stakes winners Zappa, Three Hour Nap and Miss Pickums, but he also has the rare distinction of having sired a movie star—our very own Seabiscuit ‘actor’ Popcorn Deelites.
12 Starts: 7 - 3 - 0, $1,061,193
At 2 Won Hollywood Futurity -G1, Hollywood Prevue Breeders’ Cup S. -G3
At 3 Won San Felipe S. -G2, Malibu S. -G1, San Vicente Breeders’ Cup S. -G3; 2nd Santa Anita Derby -G1
At 4 Won Commonwealth Breeder’s Cup Handicap -G2; 2nd Strub S. -G1, Metropolitan Handicap -G1
Airdrie Stud/KY 1997-2003; standing at Clear Creek Stud, LLC. in Folsom, LA. 2006: Sidelined from stallion duty for the year after a bad reaction to a strangles vaccination. 2011 fee: $3,000
Joined Old Friends: