Multiple Grade I winner Dullahan dies due to ruptured colon

Donegal Racing’s multiple Grade I winner Dullahan, whose retirement from racing was announced a week ago, was euthanized early Sunday after suffering a ruptured colon, trainer Dale Romans confirmed Sunday morning.

Romans said the 4-year-old son of Even the Score had been at rehabing from a tendon injury at WinStar Farm the last couple weeks. Despite undergoing emergency surgery at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, efforts to save the chestnut colt were to no avail.

“They said the night watchman came in around midnight and he (Dullahan) was sweating,” an emotional Romans said. “They got him right to the clinic but just could not save him. The one thing about it is he didn’t suffer long because they caught him early and…it didn’t last long. We know he was with the best hands in the game.

“Everything was done that could have been done. There’s no fault, it’s just nature.”

A half brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, Dullahan quickly developed a devoted fan base of his own with his try-hard ways and flashy looks. All three of his career wins from 18 starts came over synthetic surfaces against Grade I company, the first being his maiden-breaking triumph in the 2011 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.

Keeneland would also serve as the site of Dullahan’s second top-level score when he bested reigning juvenile champion Hansen in the 2012 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, setting off one of that race’s wildest celebrations as the Donegal crew tossed green and gold beads into the packed crowd. A third place finish in the Kentucky Derby would follow but, after off the board efforts in the Belmont Stakes and Haskell Invitational, Dullahan would score his most defining victory by besting Game On Dude in the 2012 Grade I Pacific Classic in a  track record time of 1:59.54 for 1 1/4-miles

“He was just a special horse, special to be around,” Romans said. “He had such a great personality. He gave us such a thrill in the Derby when he went wide and came running and…his Pacific Classic was about as good as a horse can run.”

That Pacific Classic score would serve as Dullahan’s final career win. He began his 2013 campaign in Dubai, finishing 11th in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, and ran eighth behind Game On Dude in this year’s running of the Pacific Classic.

Out of the Smart Strike mare Mining My Own, Dullahan retired with $1,735,901 in earnings.

“It’s bad for horse racing because I really believe he would have made an impact in stallion barn,” Romans said.

“I am devastated we will not get to see baby Dullahans growing up and becoming gorgeous racehorse,” Donegal managing partner Jerry Crawford said in a statement.