LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – A horse died on Saturday at Churchhill Downs after crossing the finish line in the ninth race.
Klein Racing’s 5-year-old Will Call died of a possible heart attack or heat stroke, according to trainer Brad H. Cox.
Owner Richard Klein said that he planned to retire Will Call next week if the horse didn’t bounce back to last season’s form.
He was planning on turning him out at Charlie and Amy LoPresti’s Forest Lane Farm in Lexington.
He was bred in Kentucky out of the Kleins’ stakes-winning mare Vote Early.
“This one stings as bad as I’ve had,” Richard Klein said. “Just because we own the stallion, had owned the mare, and this is the first horse of the stallion to ever win, first horse for the stallion to win a stakes—a graded stakes—and he’s the first horse that the family won a graded stakes with on Oaks or Derby day.”
Will Call broke through last year in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes (G3T) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard when he rallied to a 1 1/4-length victory in the five-furlong event, stopping the clock in :56.68. He also earned runner-up finishes in the Woodford Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G2T) during Keeneland’s fall meet and the Colonel Power Overnight Stakes during the 2018 meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Prior to Saturday’s race, Will Call finished off the board in three stakes this season.
“He was a neat horse. Everybody that loved him said he’s kind, he was fun to be around at the barn, he had a personality, loved peppermints,” Klein said. “This one (hurts) just because of me owning the stallion and trying to make the stallion, just everything he’s accomplished, just trying to get him there. He was just a neat horse.”
Will Call earned $354,911 with a 6-2-1 record from 17 starts.
“He owns a special place in the hearts of the Klein family,” said Klein.
Pic from BloodHorse