Skip Away dies at 17

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Hall of Famer and 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away died of an apparent heart attack in his paddock Friday morning at Hopewell Farm in Midway, Ky., according to farm owner Rick Trontz.

The three-time champion was 17 and had had a significant heart murmur for several years, Trontz said.

The gray Skip Away had a long career with the late Sonny Hine -- also the trainer of Skip Away's sire, Skip Trial -- who purchased the $30,000 colt as a birthday present for his wife, Carolyn. Skip Away won 18 of his 38 starts and earned more than $9.6 million before retiring to Hopewell in 1998. He earned championship titles as 3-year-old male in 1996 and as champion older male in 1997 and 1998. Along the way, he won 10 Grade 1 races, including the 1997 Breeders' Cup Classic and back-to-back editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1996-97. He also won the 1996 Woodbine Million and Haskell Invitational and the 1998 Hollywood Gold Cup, Pimlico Special, Gulfstream Park Handicap, Woodward, and Donn.

As a sire, Skip Away's best runners include graded winners Skipaslew, Sister Swank, and Skip Code; stakes winners Secret Getaway and Muir Beach; and Panamanian champion Sanky Panky.

Trontz said Skip Away probably will be buried at Hopewell.