Horse Racing

US grass court champion Buck’s Boy dies aged 29

Buck’s Boy, the pride of Illinois motorsport, died at George Bunn’s B Neighborhood Ranch near Pleasant Plains, Ill., where he had been retired for more than two decades. America’s 1998 champion grass horse is 29 years old. His death was reported by photographer Tom Ferry on January 27 on Facebook.

“The B Quarter has been his home for the past 22 years, and he is loved by the team there and by fans across the Midwest,” Ferry wrote.

Owner/raider/trainer Noel Hickey bred Buck’s Boy at his Acres Irish ranch in Illinois. The stallion is a true cross between Hickey’s Bucksplasher and the winner Molly’s Colleen.

Originally racing for Hickey, Buck’s Boy became the winner of his second start at Arlington Park in July when he was 3 years old when he won 13 races. After the second win two weeks later, Bunn bought Buck’s Boy. Gelding will land his first bet at 4 on the WH Bishop Handicap at Arlington and land his first classified win in his next game, the Hawthorne Gold Cup (G3) handicap. which he won for 1 1/4 lengths.

Buck’s Boy signaled early on that 1998 was going to be a special year. After placing a close second with multiple 1st, 2nd place Winners Down in the Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G2T), Buck’s Boy caught a 12-card Americas Handicap (G2T) long at Gulfstream Park in a track record of 2:23.43. He finished the chessboard only once in 1998 and added to his résumé wins in the Riggs Handicap and Fort McHenry Handicap on his way to his first 1st grade win in the Boxing Championship. Classic Turf (G1T) gain at Belmont Park.

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He was second choice in Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T), running at Churchill Downs in 1998, and with his steady front run, he became the first Illinois hybrid to win the Breeders’ Cup World Championship race. His win also brought Hickey’s first Breeders’ Cup win, who was his coach in 20 of 30 starts in his life.

The Breeders’ Cup Turf nailed the title of Eclipse champion to him. He was also named Illinois Horse of the Year and 1998 state equine champion. Equestrian has won Horse of the Year and older horse titles the previous year and will regained them in 1999.

Buck’s Boy continued racing until the age of 7, setting a 16-5-2 record and earning $2,750,148. He was the first Illinois cross-breeder to earn more than $2 million and the first to win a race with $1 million or more when he won $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf.

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