Old Friends’ Multiple Graded Stakes Winner, Sun King, Euthanized Due to Inoperable Cancer

@Laura Battles

GEORGETOWN, Ky. – Dec. 3, 2023 – Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, Ky., is saddened to report that Sun King, a multiple graded stakes winning millionaire, was euthanized at Rood and Riddle on Saturday, Dec. 2, due to inoperable cancer. He was 21.

The dark bay stallion has been at Old Friends for six years thanks to his owner, Tracy Farmer, a longtime supporter of the farm.

Foaled by Cambridge Farm & James Daniel Conway, Sun King, who was by 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Charismatic, out of the Clever Trick mare, Clever But Costly, was foaled in Kentucky on Jan. 31, 2002.

Trained by Nick Zito his entire career for owner Tracy Farmer, Sun King began his racing career as a 2-year old in 2004. Farmer purchased Sun King for $400,000 at the Keeneland 2003 January Horses of All Ages Sale.

Sun King won his first race in his second start in a maiden special weight race at Belmont Park on Sept. 17. He was moved up into stakes company for his next two races, and finished third in both, the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park and the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Lone Star.

In 2005 as a 3-year old, he opened his season with two wins, an allowance race at Gulfstream Park, and the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs for his first graded stakes victory.

He did participate in two of the Classics that year, finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and fourth in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico.

Following those races, he won the Leonard Richards Stakes (G3) at Delaware Park, and the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) at Philadelphia Park. He also finished second in the Haskell Invitational Handicap (G1) at Monmouth Park, and third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park. He ended the year with a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (G1) at Belmont Park.

In 2006, in his third start as a 4-year old, he won the Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. He then scored three consecutive second-place finishes, the first two at Belmont Park, in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and the Albert the Great Stakes (Black Type), followed by the Whitney Handicap (G1) at Saratoga.

In his next race, he was third in the Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, and then closed out his year with a 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (G1) at Churchill Downs.

He returned in 2007 as a 5-year old, but did not win any races. However, he did finish second in the Westchester Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park, the Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, and the Ack Ack Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3, which was the final race of his career.

Sun King retired with six wins, seven seconds, five thirds, and $2,240,008 in earnings in 28 career starts.

He began his stud career at Darby Dan in Kentucky in 2008, and moved to Elite Thoroughbreds in Louisiana in 2013. Then, in 2016, he was pensioned due to declining infertility and sent to Farmer’s farm.

In 2017, Farmer decided to donate Sun King to Old Friends. He arrived at the farm on Feb. 25, 2017.

“Sun King was one of our best retirees,” said Michael Blowen, President and founder of Old Friends. “A great son of Charismatic, he attracted many fans, including Nick and Kim Zito who came by often to see him. All of our retirees are missed when they die, but no one will be missed more than the King.”

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